TAXI DRIVER (1976) d: Martin Scorsese
Gene Siskel Film Center they are doing a summer long event showing different films of Quentin Tarantino and films that have inspired him. Well, one of the inspirations for Tarantino is also one of mine. The fact that they were showing it on my birthday meant that I had to go because something was telling me I needed to. And did I ever.
Knee deep in trying to get my second feature film going I go through bouts of doubt, confusion, anger, and even resentment. So it's nice to sit back and watch something that inspires and even humbles me. I've met a lot of filmmakers over the years and it's always refreshing to meet one that has a similar appreciation that I have for not only films but filmmaking. However, I have met several that think of themselves as either being above where they actually are or just flat out think they are better than others. Now if they made something that was worth bragging about I would cut them some slack but most of them have not. Some have not even made anything at all. At times I may say or do something that makes me feel a bit like the top banana but then I get a nice kick in the pants from filmmakers that remind me that I have much to learn and a long way to go. I've mentioned some of the filmmakers before that humble me - Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, Howard Hawks. Martin Scorsese is another.
My favorite Scorsese film (and that is hard to say because there are so many great ones) is 'Taxi Driver'. The bizarre tale of following a man, Travis Bickle (played unlike any other actor could pull off by Robert DeNiro who's birthday is also the same as mine so only fitting even more), who is on the verge of insanity but at the same time basically disappears into society. Another face in the crowd. He drives a taxi at night but becomes obsessed with a woman Betsy (Sybill Shepard) who works at a campaign office and the desire to take out the politician she is working for after his attempts to woo her fail. He then has a similar, albeit different, obsession with a young prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) whom he wants to save from her pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel). The fine line between being a villain (killing a politician) and a hero (killing a pimp)? Fascinating question. A film that could be picked apart to no end for sure. But the artistry with how it is told is something that is just staggering. And the absolutely amazing score by one of cinema's great composers Bernard Herrmann is, dare I say, one of the best ever done. It perfectly captures the harsh off balance nature of the film with the beautiful artistry of the images.
The film lives in a world of its own. It is almost one you can't categorize. Scorsese has said that a lot of the images were inspired by horror films yet the film is not really a horror film. The dark nature of the film keeps it from being a drama. There are even some good comical moments but the film is far from a comedy. It is its own film. It is just simply 'Taxi Driver'. One of my all time favorite films. I cannot think of a better birthday present to myself than to experience it once again on the big screen. Plus I needed the humbling and inspiration.