"Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man."
And for my last blog post, I've chosen to watch Taxi Driver, starring another acting great, Robert De Niro. Not only that, but this movie was directed by Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, The Departed, Raging Bull). So I have high hopes.
While De Niro is the main character and is highly regarded for this role, a shorter onscreen appearance is affecting as well. Jodie Foster's role (which I will describe later) required her to meet with a child-welfare worker, and Foster wasn't allowed on set when certain scenes were being filmed. And yet, Foster's acting was uncomfortably adult. This is one of those instances where an actor/actress's performance is impressive because of the sheer nature of the role.
To look back on this whole project, I'm thankful that I chose to watch movies. It served as a de-stresser, because I could sit down and just enjoy a movie for about 2 hours. And the fact that I had to do this as a project made me a more attentive movie watcher as well. When it came time to review the movie in a blog post, I was able to think about why I did or didn't like the movie, and relate it to my own personal experiences. I actually discovered some things about myself through what characters I related to and what genres I had an affinity for.
Click HERE for Taxi Driver Summary
Robert De Niro said, "One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price." And this applies perfectly to his role in Taxi Driver. Because Travis Bickle is an unsettling mix of hero and villain, crazy and charitable, laid back and obsessive.
Oh yeah, this movie's pretty violent too.
Travis, a former U.S. Marine, becomes a Manhattan taxi driver working the night shift because he's lonely, and he can't sleep at night. The transitions of the film are short, dream-like clips of his nighttime drives, with jazz sounding music playing over the clips. Travis's initial endeavor seems normal enough. He constantly sees a beautiful woman named Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), and wants to ask her out. And he does just that, by marching into her place of work (a campaign office for presidential candidate Charles Palantine) and asking her out on a date that same day. A little creepy, but still okay. ish. While on the date, Travis says he doesn't like Betsy's co-worker. Okay, already being a bit controlling but still within normal circumstances. Then, on their next date, Travis takes Betsy to see a Swedish sex education film. And around this point is when it becomes glaringly obvious that Travis Bickle is just a bittt off. He genuinely doesn't understand why Betsy is upset, and he gets upset when Betsy doesn't return any of his calls. We see Travis buy guns and create ways to conceal his weapons. We see him at the shooting range/practicing combat, and delivering that iconic "You talkin to me?" line to a mirror. Travis had a run in earlier in the movie with a child prostitute named Iris, played by Jodie Foster. She got into his cab, only to be dragged away by a man named Matthew "Sport" Higgins (who turns out to be her boyfriend [?] and pimp). Travis buys 15 minutes with Iris, but he only tries to convince her that she should stop doing what she's doing and go back home. So at least he's not a complete creep right? Travis then has an awkward conversation with a secret service agent at one of Palantine's rallies, and consequently tries to shoot Palantine at the next rally, only to be seen by the secret service men and chased after. Travis gets away and later goes to kill some a mobster, Sport, and a bouncer. Travis is severely injured from the fight. Iris witnesses the violence, and is shown cowering. In a sort of epilogue, we hear a letter from Iris's parents, and the audience learns she is back home with her family, Travis survived his multiple wounds and is regarded as a hero, and he's still working as a taxi driver.
The whole movie, I didn't know how to feel about Travis. One second he would do something insane and wrong, seemingly without reason, and then he would do something equally as crazy but actually pretty cool the next second. His motives are blurred, and his state of mind is obviously unstable. He's pretty much a psychopath. His mental state declines throughout the movie, and the scenes get creepier and more violent to reflect that. Travis is often silent, and his silence is never overdone or awkward. It's the perfect amount of eerie and intimidating. Even though Travis Bickle is like this, I still connected to his character. He made me constantly uneasy, but I tried to sympathize with him. I think a lot of this is because of all the heart and effort De Niro put into the role. He made it so convincing that Bickle wasn't just a character on a screen, he was a real person that had real problems and feelings. Many say that this is De NIro's defining role, and it's hard to argue with that.
"Were Mr. De Niro less an actor, the character [Travis Bickle] would be a sideshow freak. The screenplay, of course, gives him plenty to work with. Until the final sequences, Taxi Driver has a kind of manic aimlessness that is a direct reflection of Travis's mind, capable of spurts of common sense and discipline that are isolated in his general confusion." - Vincent Canby
Travis is a lonely guy, aimlessly spurting through life.
Travis's short lived romance with Betsy.
Jodie Foster as Iris.
Travis talking to himself in the mirror, practicing for some sort of imaginary confrontation.
The night time driving scenes set the tone of the movie. They also looked really cool.
The aftermath of the final gory scene.
This should go without saying.
Kelby Custodio, Junior at Pacifica High School.