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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:54 pm 

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Just recently saw Cairo Station, due to this thread. Thanks to all who recommended this - great film. I posted a review on the dedicated CS thread in the "Boutique Labels" section of this forum.

I saw some obvious connections between Qiwani (the main character of CS) & Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. For one thing, both were pursuing a woman who was not interested in them.

Also, there were the extreme close-ups of Qinawi's eyes, looking around him & observing everything & everyone. There were some very similar scenes w/close-ups of Travis' eyes in TD as he looked around him & took everything in...It's an interesting coincidence that these scenes were so similar in both films...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:21 am 
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I do think Scorsese's inspiration for the the extreme CU of Travis's eyes is actually the opening scene of Sam Fuller's Underworld USA.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:21 pm 

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Cold Bishop wrote:
I do think Scorsese's inspiration for the the extreme CU of Travis's eyes is actually the opening scene of Sam Fuller's Underworld USA.

Good to know - Thanks. Big Sam Fuller fan, though haven't seen this yet...will have to check it out....


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:37 pm 
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John Hinkley has been granted release


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:38 pm 
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De Niro compares Trump to Travis Bickle.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:45 pm 
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Hey, I like Travis Bickle.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:46 am 
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Did anyone catch this in the limited theater release yesterday? I managed to see it at my state capital (I live in Montana so please go ahead and get it out of your system!) and I can say the film looked great except for the obvious de-saturation during the climactic scene. In fact it looked significantly worse than I remember it ever looking. And I mean REAL bad. It was the new 4K restoration too!

For those who know what I'm talking about is there ever hope to see the film without the de-saturation?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:19 am 
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Wasn't that intentional?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:24 am 
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Big Ben wrote:
For those who know what I'm talking about is there ever hope to see the film without the de-saturation?


At this point, it is unlikely as I believe the OCN has deteriorated and there are no prints available with the unmuted colours.

That said, you probably *could* reconstruct it via digital restoration. But given not only it was photochemically desaturated and it looks as if it were done on the answer print and not the original negative, you will have some issues there due to it being one generation removed from the negative. My guess is you could probably restore the colours to their original state (using production stills, continuity photos, etc.) but it will still look grainy since it is from an answer/dupe print and not the original negative.

Honestly, I don't mind it because it adds its own character to it and how it could inform Travis's state of mind. Scorsese has accepted this. I know Michael Chapman has regretted not having the unmuted option available. At this point, it is very much a part of the film and therefore of film history that it would be strange at this point to change it.

matrixschmatrix wrote:
Wasn't that intentional?


Yes and no. No in that it was not filmed in that manner and yes, the desaturation was move made by Scorsese after a screening noting the intense violence and to maintain an R rating (I forget if it was officially called NC-17 in 1976; if not, it would have been X).

Like I said, I think it adds some character to it that would have been lacking had the natural colours remain. After all, you are dealing with someone who is pretty much off-kilter.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:26 am 
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djproject wrote:
I forget if it was officially called NC-17 in 1976

Not until 1990


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:00 pm 
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Thanks for the replies folks! After doing some research it appears that only one still photograph exists with desaturated colors. Scorsese apparently approves of the way the film looks so I guess I'll just leave it at that. I swear it really did look worse than I remember though. It was so dark I couldn't see what was happening to a particular individual. Not that it was essential to understanding the film but I thought I'd get it out there. I'll be interested in seeing what some of you think when the new Blu-Ray hits next month IF any of you decide to get it.

The Q&A that preceded the film (And that will likely be included on the new disc) it wasn't anything to really write home about. The actors all talked about little bits of information on how they got into character and so forth. I guess what I'm saying is that unless there is a drastic improvement in Picture Quality you can skip buying this new version just for this Q&A.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:45 am 
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Big Ben wrote:
Thanks for the replies folks! After doing some research it appears that only one still photograph exists with[out] desaturated colors...

For what it's worth, I was perusing the Taschen book in a bookstore over the weekend and it actually contains several production stills of the climatic scene in full color. If the technology/money was up-to-task, and there was a desire to restore the scene to its original intentions, the stills clearly show what the colors looked like on the set.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:43 pm 
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Thanks for the info! Taxi Driver is one of my top ten films (Laugh if you must) and I think changing it at this point would amount to heresy. My only real complaint about this restoration is that the final shootout sequence really did look that bad on screen. I'm certainly no expert but I will swear on celluloid itself that it can look better and has looked better.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:18 pm 
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DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, July 24th

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

-According to Bordwell, the goals and desires of characters are some of the key unifying elements of Hollywood narratives. But what, if anything, does Travis Bickle want?

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:20 pm 
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This week's discussion is the winner of the The Cannes Top Award Winners List.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:48 pm 
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I have to admit I really don't understand the admiration for this one whether in the context of Scorsese, post-Vietnam, New Hollywood, or any of the other things its discussed within. This being Scorsese of course there's a baseline quality here that makes it very rewatchable and I'm not arguing it as fundamentally flawed as I would, say, Raging Bull. I just don't see where it goes from a good movie to one of the best ever that people often leap to.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:27 pm 
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And, for my part, I've never understood any of the aesthetic complaints about this film. For me it's clearly Scorsese's greatest and most powerful (though I think Raging Bull and The Wolf of Wall Street are more "perfect" in superficial ways).

Admittedly I saw this at a young age (probably too young) and so it shaped my sensibilities about what a Great Movie even is to an inordinate degree. Though I don't think I've seen it in five years, before that I had probably watched it over 30 times, owing in part to writing my bachelor's thesis on it and Refn's Drive, which had just come out. I'm looking forward to watching it again since, after absolutely marinating in it for a research project like that, I started to feel a strong, basic revulsion towards the film that I hadn't before (while admiring it more than ever as a piece of craft). Many films and television shows about antiheroic male pathologies have been birthed in its wake, but none of them have the same authentically threatening and demonic atmosphere that Taxi Driver has. It will be interesting to revisit the film in a world which now has an alt-right, for one thing.

Years ago I remember seeing someone on here call the film a "mess" and being flabbergasted. The structure of this film is masterful. There are too many film fans who will rationalize a structurally incoherent film as, say, merely being a wider expression of a main character's schizophrenia (when really the film just doesn't know what it's doing). Taxi Driver, though, is the real deal. Bickle has a violently ambivalent relationship both to the glossier, straightworld side of 1970s New York and to its underground--he doesn't belong in one or the other, can't admit to himself what he desires from either, and is constantly changing his mind about how he should act in regard to them. This can make the story seem incoherent if you don't let yourself sink down into the core, unifying elements of his pathologically splintered loneliness itself. That the film manages to demand that while still basically adhering to core classical Hollywood narrative-motivational conventions is for me its greatest achievement.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:01 pm 
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Foam was kind enough to provide a discussion question for the film. You'll see it in the first post above.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:09 pm 
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I saw Taxi Driver early in my film-going journey and unlike a surprising amount of films it's remained an absolute personal favorite.

I'm rather poor with words but it's a rare film where everything just seems to work, even the funny moments (Something that I collectively shared with an audience in a theater!). Said moments make the eventual descent by Bickle into madness all the more awful to me.

My favorite scene is one that is talked about but often is overshadowed by others is when Travis is on the phone with Betsy trying to apologize for taking her to a porno theater on their first date. The camera just inadvertently pans to the right to a hallway. Almost as to suggest Travis is too ridiculous to look at. And, mind you Scorsese only does this AFTER we have to watch Bickle try for a short period of time. I wouldn't necessarily call it...subtle. But I do think it's quite brilliant.

My question for others is does the ending work for you? I will (hopefully) defend the ending which I've seen people debate ever since I got involved with the film. For me, living where I do individuals who commit acts like Bickle does are actually praised. Violent actions against outcasts are actually rewarded and the perpetrators seen as heroes. That pimp? He's scum. That low life? He is too. And that's what I have always felt Schrader was going for in his script. Society does not care about what led up to the shooting of these five men, only that they're dead and the young girl is saved. And for Bickle he gets to be the knight in shining armor come to save the princess from her dragons. I feel this sequence is validated once more in the final scene of the film where Bickle "hears" a noise and a split second shot shows him rapidly adjusting his car mirror to see his potential assailant. As Scrader has suggested before. Bickle was a "hero" once. He won't be again.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:45 pm 
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For me, the core of the appeal of this movie isn't an entirely healthy one- Schrader discusses in the commentary the mindset he was in when he wrote the movie, one in which he was isolating himself, letting himself grow obsessive and unwell, and using this as a basis for Travis himself. This, to me, is very familiar, and there's a sickly appeal to the movie as a whole and to Travis in particular, an appeal of going entirely feral- though Travis himself is actually resisting doing so as best he can for quite a lot o the movie.The bifurcated score, part ragged breathing/wounded animal, part dreamy fantasy, reflects this- the state Travis finds himself in, and the state in which Travis would like to be- and for me, there's something intensely cathartic about watching him slowly slip entirely into the former.

I think what he wants is pretty straightforward- he wants, as he puts it, to be "a person like other people", and he recognizes that he has "a head full of bad ideas" and that these (among other things) represent a barrier to forming the connections of love and friendship that he craves. He's in the grip of a terrifying mental illness (though of course, it's very rare that mental illness alone creates violence against others, much less violence on this scale) but he is also afflicted by an addiction to seeking out the parts of culture that give him a thrill of horror- an extremely racist man who spends hours prowling the streets, reading everything that happens in a diverse (and at the time desperately fucked up) city as an act of violence, feeding his own violent tendencies and blurring what understandings of social contracts he has.

The most characteristic Scorsesian element is, I think, the monastic devotion Travis shows to preparing himself once he has chosen his purpose- it is where Travis is simultaneously incredibly chilling but also, to someone in the feral mindset, at his most appealing, someone becoming hard and tightening himself into a muscle. I think this sequence is absolutely vital to the kind of person Travis is, and I think once we see it, the movie cannot but let him explode- he's building to one throughout, but this is the point of no return. Given that, I think what actually happens is the movie trying to let this happen without becoming retroactively reprehensible- Scorsese is pretty clear that he didn't want to end his movie with a massacre of black people, which one would think would be Travis's natural bent, and simply killing Palantine would have felt rather unfulfilling. I'm not sure I believe Travis actually survives- the ending we see is a bit of a cheap irony- but the dreaminess of it leaves enough room for doubt that it doesn't much worry me, either. Travis is trapped forever now, no matter what happens.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:57 pm 
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I'd say it's pretty explicit in the film that Travis wants to get rid of the ugliness and "filth" he sees around him. He projects curative fantasies of idealization on Betsy and Iris. But it's never made clear why he has these feelings - though we can guess there's PTSD because he's a Vietnam vet. There's a tremendous sense of loneliness and alienation (feelings that a lot of us at some point in our lives can relate to, as the filmmakers have made clear, which is what makes the film both attractive and repulsive). I tend to think of the Doors song: "People are strange when you're a stranger / Faces look ugly when you're alone / Women seem wicked when you're unwanted / Streets are uneven when you're down".


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:07 pm 
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I don't think Travis really dreams of curing those things- he's sought them out, they're why he came to New York. He's fascinated by them, and fixated upon them, but I don't think destroying them is really the root of his motivation.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:20 pm 
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The reason I asked the question is that I think the root of his motivation is somewhere between wanting to be a "person like other people" and wanting to maintain his sense of separation, superiority, and purity over and against other people. Travis aspires to the world of Betsy, Albert Brooks, and Palantine, but is terrified that he really belongs--spiritually--to the world of scum he kids himself into thinking he wants to annihilate (he reads onto them what he wants to purge in himself). And it's also worth remembering that before he walks up to Betsy in Palantine HQ, he hits on the woman behind the counter at the adult movie theater, perhaps an admission of where he understands himself as truly belonging.

The consequence of this for how I read the end of the film is that the question of its reality becomes irrelevant. Whether in fantasy or reality, Betsy is finally bestowing her approving gaze upon him, confirming his masculine sufficiency; through public notoriety he becomes a Person Like Other People, but through the extremity of his story he maintains his antiheroic otherness and individuality.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:29 pm 
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I think that's a decent analysis (it's certainly true that there's a grim self importance to Travis's fantasy world, and simply doing ok would presumably not fulfill it), with the note that the purer world he aspires to doesn't REALLY include Palantine or Brooks- both of whom he physically threatens- and that the Betsy who lives there is not even vaguely connected with the Betsy who goes on a date with him. Insofar as his explosion is in defense of the purity of a girl whom he has clearly conflated with Betsy, I think there's an element almost like the killer in Mann's Manhunter to him- he wants to be loved but also worshiped, to be accepted but also adored. His final scene with Iris before the explosion is misleading in that respect, as he seems like a remarkably decent, struggling to do the right thing guy- which I do think is in there, and part of why Travis is such an alluring figure- but I think his ultimate fantasy is as you put it that look that Betsy finally gives him, a dream approval that is still completely under his control (in the back of his cab, the space he has the most power over, and which he has been an observer of for the whole film.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:39 pm 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I don't think Travis really dreams of curing those things- he's sought them out, they're why he came to New York. He's fascinated by them, and fixated upon them, but I don't think destroying them is really the root of his motivation.

Unless of course that attraction is a big part of the reason he wants to destroy it.

He does put himself through weird purification rituals in anticipation of action, and seems obsessed in a rather Catholic way with women and children as symbols of purity, ones he feels compelled to save from their surrounding filth (but only after they reject him in some way). The world is unclean because he is unclean. Like a closeted homosexual who, loathing his sexuality, commits himself to oppressing homosexuals, Travis has externalized his self-hatred.

The strength of this movie is its imaginative sympathy, how deeply it gets inside Travis' mindset and how it resists easy explanations and judgements. How it even wants to elicit sympathy. It speaks to us in our unhealth. It's a closely observed, difficult, riveting movie.


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