Friday, June 8, 2007

Taxi Driver (1976)

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, and Cybill Shepherd.

Scorsese is one of the best directors currently working- some would say the best- and if this isn’t quite his greatest film it’s certainly near the top of the list. Beyond the obvious filmmaking chops on display, what makes this a classic is its still-relevant look at isolation. Robert DeNiro's Travis Bickle, one of the most memorable of all big-screen characters, is dangerous, yes, but much of this comes from how disconnected he is from those around him. For example, he pines for Shepherd's Betsy from afar, but when he finally asks her out he has no idea what to do, so he takes her to a porno theatre. Ultimately, he becomes obsessed with the idea of being an avenging angel, rescuing women from the men who control them, first trying to assassinate the politician Betsy works for, then turning his attention to a sleazeball pimp who controls a teenage prostitute named Iris (Foster). DeNiro's performance is tremendous, a reminder of what a powerful actor he was before his acting became lazy and bloated.

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