7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I won't deny I like my De Niro films and I have a soft spot for the edgy slightly off beat Scorsese direction that works so well. This duo partnership has been played out through the years, but this earlier film is arguably one of the best that both men have created.
Right from the first opening scene with the city smoke and taxi moving through it, the close up eye shots of De Niro then the rain beating down on the taxi's windscreen with the street lights out of focus...topped off I might add with the magnificent Bernard Herrmann soundtrack, it's probably one of the most memorable and perfectly executed openings ever on any motion picture. Of course a sizzling opening does not a good film make, but it does set the "mood" for what is a highly unusual and very graphic film.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle a recently discharged Marine who is looking for work and lives a very odd and secluded life as well as having sleep problems he's down and out but manages to find a job as a "Taxi Driver" The odd hours and late nights suit Travis, but he meets a local political campaign worker whom he soon becomes somewhat obsessed with (Cybill Shepherd who plays the part of Betsy)
Travis takes her on a date but his lack of social skills soon ruin the date after he takes Betsy to an adult movie playing in a local cinema. These early scenes show a lack of maturity and isolation of Travis who is detached and indifferent to normal behaviour. But deep down Travis has a sense of morality and is often sickened by what he sees on the streets, the crime and prostitution. He starts to tone himself up and vent his frustration into physical training
The story unfolds when Travis picks up an underage prostitute called "Iris" (Jodie Foster) trying to escape from her pimp boss "Sport" (Harvey Keitel), who drags her out of the cab. Travis is concerned by this and arranges to meet with Iris via the prostitution circle but instead of hiring Iris to have sex he tell her he wants to help her get out of prostitution. The later parts of the film revolve mostly around Travis and his new found mission to free Iris from her pimp and let her start a new life. But there are some very memorable moments along the way , the quick action sleeve gun design and mirror scenes, the Mohawk hair cut among many others. Also look out for a small scene where the director is paying Travis to sit in his cab and watch his wife cheating.
It would be easy to put Taxi Driver down as a fairly violent drama without much soul, but the reality is Travis despite being a bit of an oddball has a heart beneath it and his one man mission to extract punishment on the "scum" of the streets is a novel twist on the vigilante take. All this wouldn't work were it not for some masterful direction from Martin Scorsese, and some very convincing acting from all the cast members esp De Niro and Foster who both have difficult roles to play.
Cinematography is first class with some great scenes and angles provided by Michael Chapman, wonderful soundtrack and a genuinely meaningful storyline. De Niro provides narration in parts and this hints at the theme which Scorsese would later develop into his trade mark (narration and freeze frames) But here we have a fresh and eager crew and cast delivering up a powerful cinematic punch. The ending is quite violent, in the extra features the documentary (which is well worth a watch on it's own) explains this had to be toned down (colour and saturation wise - blood) to make the R rating, once you see the scene you'll understand why back in this time period the gore was deemed unacceptable. Don't dismiss Taxi Driver as a gore fest pure violence film, there is a serious moral side to the production and it successfully manages to convey a gloomy atmosphere and looks into the mind of a genuinely good man, who is mostly alone and struggling with life.
People band the "timeless masterpiece" title around a bit too much, but this is such a unique film on every level and has earned great respect among fans as a real cult classic. I remember the first time I watched this pondering just how tedious could a film be about a Taxi Driver? Well this is no ordinary cab ride a gritty street/crime drama that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
Probably the most powerful film both men have made.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2012
This is a brilliant film; for me it's aesthetically beautiful (the Taxi bumper shots showing the bright lights of New York are stunning), it's also got a lovely melancholic jazz soundtrack that highlights Travis' perceived pointlessness and ambling in and through life.
(Plot spoilers) The story is simple: an insomniac wants to better spend his sleepless nights so enrols to drive taxis, slowly but surely falling into the abyss of loneliness and insanity. He witnesses the depraved and seedy nature of New York at night (prostitutes, drug dealers et al.) and brands them the scum of the earth. This, ironically, coming from a man who regularly visits dirty movie theatres. At the same time, we see Travis develop obsessions with Betsy who is a campaign worker for Palantine, a presidential candidate. Soon after their relationship develops, Travis makes the mistake of taking her to one of the aforementioned dirty movies, which immediately sees an end to this relationship. Travis later angrily confronts her and makes various violent remarks towards her, the first sign of his unstable mental state. Throughout the film Travis encounters a young child prostitute who he feels is being forced against her will to ply her trade. Meanwhile he begins training and preparing to assassinate Palantine. When it comes to it however, he fails to do so after being spotted by Secret Service Agents before he attempts the assassination. His desire to exact violence upon those he despises (Palantine for his connection to Betsy) leads him to the location of the child prostitute who he feels he must help escape from prostitution. Therefore, he murders her pimp, the bouncer and her customer (these being the scum of the earth that he despises). He is injured in the battle and fails to commit suicide. Later he awakes from a coma to a hero's welcome for helping Iris (the child prostitute) return to her parents and Betsy showing renewed interest in Travis. The irony here being that had he been successful in assassinating Palantine he would have been deemed evil but now he is a hero.
On note of the Blu-ray itself: WOW! For a film made in 70s this is one crisp picture!! I can't rave enough about how good the picture quality is; I must compare it to the recently released Star Wars Blu-rays and Taxi Driver blows those away. Yes, there are certain scenes where the camera pans and it seems as if the screen is jolting a bit and other scenes aren't quite as good quality as others but boy are the HQ scenes GOOD and the Low Quality scenes are still dozens of times higher than I could've hoped for in a 70s film.
Bravo to Scorsese, De Niro et al.!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2012
Taxi Driver is one my favorite films of all time. I love 70's films like Apocalypse Now, Clockwork Orange, Get Carter, Godfather and others that broke new grounds in filmmaking in general. It's my favorite era of film-making next to Classic Hollywood and the 80's.
Taxi Driver is very effective portrayal of New York, loneliness, violence and does it so well that no film afterwards has managed to capture it. Every single aspect of the film works. The performance by Robert De Niro has become an iconic. The direction by Martin Scorsese is very stylish and gives Taxi Driver a unforgettable look. The music by Alfred Hitchcock's composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo) gives the film another level of atmosphere and mood. There are great supporting cast that includes Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd and Peter Boyle. While Taxi Driver is mostly De Niro's show, these actors give very good supporting performances.
There is no real point talking about the plot of this film because most of you have heard about it in one way or another. It's an iconic film with iconic performance and iconic scenes that influenced modern pop-culture. It's a true masterpiece.
This DVD is a 2 Disc set with great amount of extra features. Picture quality is superb as is the sound quality. There are also stills from the movie which are quite nice.
*Commentary track by writer Paul Schrader
*Commentary track by Professor Robert Kolker
*Interview with Martin Scorsese
*Making Taxi Driver - 70 min long making of documentary
*Travis New York - Interview with 1970's New York mayor
*Travis New York Locations - Films location comparison now and then
*Introduction to Storyboards by Martin Scorsese
*Storyboard to Film Comparison
*Animated Photo Galleries
*Scorsese at Work - Photo Montage
*God's Lonely Man - interview with screenwriter
*Influence and Appreciation: Martin Scorsese Tribute - Oliver Stone, Robert De Niro and others talk about Scorsese
*Taxi Driver Stories - Real life taxi drivers tell real life stories
*Producing Taxi Driver - Interview with producer.
This DVD is a must have for any collection. It's very well put together. There are a lot of extra content that cover every angle of the process of making Taxi Driver. If you are a fan of cinema you should get this one without a second doubt.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2011
This landmark film starring Robert De Niro, Cybil Shepard Harvey Keitel and a very young Jodie foster(13 at the time) and tells the story of Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet,and loner with demons that bring the film to a terrifying conclusion.
De Niro's portrayal of Bickle is an astouding work. He and Scorsese made a massive impact on me, when I swa this on video when i was sixteen. New York is seen as a hell on earth,with "pimps, whores , buggars and queens" seen everywhere.
This beautifully presented 2 disc is startling in its clarity and sound.
Buy It and Watch it, not a fun evening, but a startling and still shocking movie, which is still relevant, just hope the Taxi Driver2 That is been proposed is only a joke...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2007
Scorsese injects a real understanding of the place and a real sense of foreboding into even the earliest scenes. He inserts clever and meaningful shots into scenes that other directors might just have filmed straight and his choice of scene and shot compliments the script is depicting Travis descending into madness. What makes the film even better is De Niro showing the type of form that makes his recent form such a major disappointment. He is outstanding as he moves Travis from being relatively normal to being eaten up from the inside out. His eventual implosion is impressive but it is only as impressive as the gradual slide he depicts over the course of the film. Although he dominates it, others impress as well. Foster stands out in a small role, while Keitel makes a good impression as the pimp. Shepherd is not quite as good but her character was not as well written as the others so it isn't all down to her. Regardless, the film belongs to De Niro and although the quotable scenes are the ones that are remembered it is in the quieter moments where he excels and shows genuine talent and understanding.
Overall an impressive and morally depressing film that deserves its place in cinematic history. The portrayal of a city and a man slipping into moral insanity is convincing and engaging and it shows how well to "do" modern madness and the effects of the moral void of parts of society. Scorsese directs as a master despite this being at an early stage in his career and De Niro is chillingly effective as he simply dominates the film in quiet moments and quotable moments alike. I rarely use phrases like "modern classic" because I think they are lazy but this is one film that certainly deserves such a label. Also ranked as the 36th top film of all time by [...]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2002
It is impossible for me to review Taxi Driver without sounding like a nutcase, but I'll try my best. The film is about Travis Bickle, a lonely, disillusioned war veteran who joins a taxi service because he can't sleep at nights (the filth and scum and general odour of degredation gives him headaches). Gradually, through a series of brief but important relationships with a beatiful campaign worker, a teenage prostitute, a psycho who plans to kill his wife and a presidential candidate, Travis becomes ever more warped on "really DOING something". I won't ruin the rest of it for you, even though most people will know what happens by the film's reputation anyway. What makes this film great is its atmosphere, combined with Robert De Niro's disturbingly casual performance as Travis. His monotonous drawl, especially when reading his diary entries, somehow adds to film's unnerving acceptance of what ensues to create a general sense of inevitability about what happens.
The most important aspect of Taxi Driver is the sympathy we feel for Travis, mostly gained through his bungled relationship with Betsy the campaign worker Cybil Shepherd). If Travis was just a demented psycopath who went on a murder spree because he was a madman, the eponymous "end scene" would lose its effect. As it stands, a substantial amount of pathos is built up for Travis' character. Because we know he is a social retard, we can understand the mistake he makes when taking Betsy on a date to a dirty movie, and can understand his angry reaction when she snubs his attempts to reconcile, because we have seen how much he idolized her beforehand.
Martin Scorsese's direction is flawless, and he succeeds totally in showing to us just how filthy the streets of New York appear to Travis through a series of effective little touches, such as the screaming man striding along the street, fists clenched, or the throwing of eggs at Travis' cab as he drives along the rain-drenched streets. New York is presented as a blinding kaleidoscope of neon lights, in Travis is nothing but a dot.
All in all, a classic film, but only one for people who can stomach the short burst of violence after a tremendous build-up of tension.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2012
I wasn't sure whether this was going to be a good purchase after reading both good and bad reviews on its blu ray transfer.
But after watching it, I can only say... NO REGRETS!!!
The one disc blu ray comes in a typical blu ray plastic case inside a protective cardboard sleeve, both the case and the sleeve have the same image and film information on the front and back.
The blu ray contains some great extras including commentary from Scorsese, from storyboard to screen comparisons and much more.
For anyone worrying about the transfer to blu ray, DON'T. Its a film made in 1975, transfered with a 1080p HD 1.85:1 ratio, leaving the picture really good throughout, especially in the daylight scenes.
The sound is crisp and the dialogue clear.
Highly recommend this classic for anyone wanting to buy it for the first time, or wanting to upgrade from VHS or DVD.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2005
It's always healthy to question the exalted status of "classic" movies that continue to be hailed by the critics as masterpieces years after they were first made. Films should continually be re-evaluated as time goes by. 'Taxi Driver' is one of those rare films that survives that process and retains its relevance and power even as each year goes by. It is a masterpiece.
The film owes its lasting power to three simple things: the excellent, perceptive script, De Niro's great performance, and Scorsese's masterful direction. All of these qualities are apparent right from the first scene. De Niro's Travis Bickle walks into a taxi depot, and the camera pans round his new world 360 degrees, showing the isolation of the character and establishing the scene and sense of place. De Niro talks to the taxi boss about a new job. He is the character: he has a blankness about him, a naïve innocence; but this is mixed with a vague sense of menace and isolation. The man asks him if he is moonlighting. Bickle pauses, and his look of puzzlement reinforces our sense that he is disjointed from the real world. "What's moonlighting?" he says, genuinely confused. In the background, Bernard Herrmann's moody, jazz-tinged soundtrack pulsates with a brooding sense of menace.
This is not an action film, and if you approach it expecting to see a muscle-bound Robert De Niro dispatching bad guys in the manner of Vin Diesel in 'XXX', you will be sorely disappointed. If you don't "get" this film, it might be a good idea to give up on it and go back to watching WWF Wrestling on satellite TV. 'Taxi Driver' is an almost relentlessly bleak - yet at times darkly comic - portrayal of loneliness, confusion, alienation and misplaced aggression. Travis Bickle's increasingly unhinged monologues, narrated by De Niro in a sullen monotone at periods throughout the film, give us a sense that we are inside his mind, spiralling towards madness with him. The film focuses on psychological insight, character development and the evocation of mood and place, rather than on pure action. "Loneliness has followed me my whole life. In bars, cars, sidewalks, streets - everywhere. There's no escape... for God's lonely man," Bickle intones at one point. It couldn't be further removed from the wisecracks of conventional movie heroes.
The power of this masterpiece is, as yet, undiminished...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you go into the lists of De Nero's best films, then `Taxi Driver' frequently appears at the top. It won numerous awards, though surprisingly no `AA's?
The film was an enormous success, costing just over a million dollars to make - and grossing 28 million!
I can't think of anything that would have done more for the image of New York's yellow taxi cabs than this film?
The film centres on the taxi driver Travis. He lives in fantasy world, drives through the night, to areas no one else will go to , takes his pills, he keeps a diary. He also sends cards to his Mum &, Dad, telling them all sorts of tosh about himself. You never find out if his parents even exist?
He is uneducated and lacks the basic social skills. He thinks it's OK to take his new girlfriend to a porn movie? He's surprised when she walks out!
The film frequently enters the 'low life' areas of town and Travis seems to look down up on the dross of New York society. He is a racist.
As the film moves on, he becomes more and more irrational and unstable. He's an odd ball for sure and you're never quite sure just how far he's willing go? The film is very dark, but nevertheless just brilliant theatre, it takes you there, to the dingy, rainy streets of vice and the underclasses and unmentionables.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This film comes from the 1970s auteur period of nakedly awful stories about the dregs and losers. I remember enjoying my reaction to this as an undergraduate, the way that it kind of freaked me out, which is a substitute for experience in the young. This time around, while I recognize its significance, fine acting, and relentless realism, I half wondered why I was putting myself through it. OK, you endure it for the sake of art, but it is so awful that I may never do so again, which leads to the question, why buy it?
Scorsese, DeNiro, Keitel, and Foster completely deserve the praise they received. They portray losers in the drama of a massive, then-deteriorating city, in which a man is going insane. He pulls Keitel and Foster into his web of horror and alienation with the surety of a pendulum, to the unspeakable violence of the climax. It is painful to watch: a horrible story about horrible people to whom horrible things will happen. Then there is the commentary on the media: Travis becomes a hero by his action, though it is clear the pendulum continues to swing.
There is also a very good documentary about the film. It is a must for Scorsese fans and Taxi buffs.
It is a great film, just not very fun. I would recomend renting it rather than buying it.