BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #67: Taxi Driver, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
As I said in my review of Raging Bull, I have a lot of respect for Martin Scorsese, but he does not make films that appeal to me. I was halfway through Taxi Driver when I realized I had seen it before and forgotten almost everything about it. It is just a film I didn’t respond to.
I have to say that there are some strong performances in the film. De Niro in particular was fantastic as the mentally unstable Travis Bickle. The scenes when he is being too pushy with Betsy were particularly cringeworthy. He is like a puppy-dog mixed with a fight-trained pit-bull – from scene to scene you don’t know if he is going to curl up and be sweet or snap. I liked the slow-build up to him going really crazy. He’s clearly off from the start, but the way the story progresses and the things that happen to him lead him to his decision to assassinate Palantine and shoot up the brothel. The 1970’s violence is pretty laughable today but still oddly brutal. It was clear in the film that crazy people with disposable income are a special breed of dangerous.
I was very impressed by Jodi Foster’s performance as Iris. As a young teenager she gave an affecting performance as a young prostitute. It was particularly disturbing to see her interact with Harvey Keitel, who was at least twice her age, but she had a real maturity to her performance. I have always enjoyed Foster as an actor and it was impressive to see that she had so much talent at such a young age.
Even though it was not a film I really enjoyed, it was a well-made film. Scorsese knows how make a film that explores the human psyche at a time when the country was still healing from a lost war. It is also interesting to look back on a time when elections were run on over the phone and with flyers, when people had to use payphone to call taxi-cabs, and vinyl was purchased unironically.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Taxi Driver ranking: Submarine