Sunday, 15 May 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 137: Wednesday May 18

Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976): Everyman Hampstead, Ritzy & Curzon Soho. All week.

Martin Scorsese's brilliant slice of New York alienation is back in a special 35th anniversary release and looks as fresh and as vital as ever. Critics taking another look at this American masterwork have been unanimous in their praise for perhaps the director's most famous film and this is a marvellous chance to savour the movie on a big screen.

Guardian writer John Patterson has written a superb summation of the film's lasting legacy. You can read his full article here. This is the conclusion:

'You might ponder the wild bestiary of mad assassins and gunmen thronging the American cinema of the 1970s: Scorpio in Dirty Harry; snipers in The Parallax View and Executive Action, Nashville and Two-Minute Warning; the vengeful heroes of Death Wish and Walking Tall. Also, note the generational links between Arthur Bremer – who shot and paralysed governor George Wallace in 1972, and whose diaries inspired Schrader's script – and John Hinckley Jr, inspired by a film about a would-be assassin, based on the words of a would-be assassin, to become a would-be assassin himself – a perfect circle.

You can also see, on TV and in the streets and bars, more Travis Bickles these days than ever before.
And not just in the form of The Office's Dwight K Schrute and Seth Rogen in the Taxi Driver-centric Observe And Report, but among anti-abortion snipers and the viler fringes of the far right (Tim McVeigh was pure Travis). He is the toxic waste by-product of John Wayne's racist avenger Ethan Edwards in The Searchers; not merely, as I thought at the time, a local symptom of America's post-Vietnam malaise but a recurrent and ineradicable archetype: the Psychotic American Nobody who wants to be Somebody.'

Quentin Tarantino rates the film in his top five of all-time and you can hear him talk about the movie here on YouTube.


Here is the celebrated opening credit sequence with music by Bernard Herrmann.

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