Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

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swo17
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#201 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:44 pm

Yes, what reason is there to want to destroy something other than because you are ashamed to admit that you like it? If you were indifferent to it, you would just ignore it and move on with your life.

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knives
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#202 Post by knives » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:59 pm

Which goes with his weird and inappropriate habit with the porn film and even his relationship with Peter Boyle which has to be a deliberate allusion to his similar role in Joe.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#203 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:11 pm

knives wrote:Which goes with his weird and inappropriate habit with the porn film
That bit has always surprised me. It's like he's completely unaware that this is unusual or would make Betsy uncomfortable. It's like he hasn't been properly socialized or has lived in complete isolation all his life, but that obviously hasn't been the case (?). There are aspects of the film that don't make a lot of psychological sense, which (thankfully probably) makes it difficult to reduce the film to psychological analysis.

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Mr Sausage
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Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#204 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:25 pm

The porn watching is an interesting detail. There are a few ways to understand it. The common explanation is that Travis is seeking images and instances of human connection, but because he doesn't understand human connection, he seeks it in inappropriate but ubiquitous forms, and then sits there uncomprehending.

But why doesn't he seek it in romances or old melodramas or daytime soaps? Does he have no childhood memories of media that offered romance and connection that he could idolize and retreat to? Why, when he does fantasize, are the fantasies not of escape but of violent confrontation with the world he loathes? Travis does not avoid seeing and experiencing what is distasteful. He conceives of purity, but never tries to escape to some vision of it.

On some level he must feel, regarding the porn, 'this is what people like; I should like it too, shouldn't I?' He thinks of his surroundings as filth, yet he locates normalizing behaviours in it.

On another level, he is attracted to porn--maybe not in uncomplicated sexual gratification, but there is a fascination that keeps him coming back, and not just for some anthropological reason. If the porn were truly repulsive it would've driven it away, and we can assume it does indeed offend his catholic sensibilities. And yet it keeps pulling him back; he even wants to share it with Betsy, and who knows how true his explanation to her is. Travis finds what he loathes fascinating. His interest in porn may not be some misplaced, lonely purity as it's often read. Porn is part of how he engages people, relationships, and the world.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#205 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:28 pm

Wasn’t this the height of seeing porn theatrically being in vogue?

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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#206 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:30 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:Wasn’t this the height of seeing porn theatrically being in vogue?
Yup. It was something you could encounter more casually and with less furtiveness.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#207 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:47 pm

The question remains for me as to why Travis would not be aware that Betsy would find it appropriate.

When Betsy realizes where he's taking her and says, "You've got to be kidding - this is a dirty movie", he answers by saying "No, no" and that he sees all kinds of couples going there. (video of the scene here.) This goes to Mr Sausage's analysis, but it also tells me it's not just about porn being in vogue and that he's in some ways socially clueless.

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Big Ben
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#208 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:52 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:The question remains for me as to why Travis would not be aware that Betsy would find it appropriate.

When Betsy realizes where he's taking her and says, "You've got to be kidding - this is a dirty movie", he answers by saying "No, no" and that he sees all kinds of couples going there. (video of the scene here.) This goes to Mr Sausage's analysis, but it also tells me it's not just about porn being in vogue and that he's in some ways socially clueless.
Because he really is that clueless.

I think of it like this. Here's a man so divorced from everyone else he really thinks that taking a woman he recently asked out at a politician's campaign office will enjoy seeing pornography in a theater with other people. It would have been far less realistic for Betsy to have thought this was arousing or even amusing. But that's the world Travis lives in. He really thinks this is something people casually do on dates. I understand being awkward as I'm awkward myself but who the hell would take someone to a porno on the first date? And that again, I reiterate is the point. Travis REALLY thinks this is okay.


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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#210 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Mar 26, 2022 11:27 pm

Awesome YouTube channel. I love stuff like that. Thanks dom.

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Matt
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Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#211 Post by Matt » Sun Jun 26, 2022 12:49 am

I just caught this on TCM (as part of their tribute to fashion in film?! Image), the first time I’ve seen it in maybe 10-11 years, and it just stunned me all over again like it was my first time seeing it. The opening credits with that moody Bernard Herrmann score and distorted views of streetlights and neon signs through the rain-pocked windshield grabbed me and I couldn’t stop watching. It’s such a perfectly executed film on every level, and it upset me all over again that that stupid Joker movie exists as any point of comparison or ‘homage.’

I think I am also acutely feeling the very cynical tone of the film in that it now seems perfectly apt that a disturbed white man could shoot a bunch of ‘undesirables,’ suffer no legal consequences, and be hailed as a folk hero. I don’t think the ending is really meant to be either ‘real’ or a dream, but that the whole movie takes place in a dystopia where all the events of the movie would be plausible. And I imagine NYC in 1975 felt like that. After all, that was the year of the famous New York Daily News headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” a time when the city must have felt like a living hell.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#212 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Jun 26, 2022 11:13 am

To a high schooler living in suburban Canada in the early aughts, Taxi Driver was like a glimpse into an alien world. There was no way for me to experience the kind of urban hellscape I was seeing on the tv--it was as far removed from my lived experience as, say, farming in Thailand. But it was nothing less than persuasive. The movie didn't feel like an accidental historical piece, of its time but increasingly irrelevant, nor a bit of performative extremity. It felt like a living, breathing world that both moulded and reflected the psyche of its anti-hero.

I like what you said, Matt, about it feeling very contemporary for a white man to become a folk hero for essentially committing mass murder. It's a movie ripe for interesting reassessment. The exact form of loneliness and alienation Travis displays...I don't want to say is no longer possible, but the internet has made it easy to find communities of similar disaffection. It's easy to imagine Travis these days finding groups like the proud boys and fitting right in. While I'd like to think of Travis as more conflicted, complicated, and articulate than a proud boys member, that might just be my way of avoiding a reality I find uncomfortable. Taxi Driver might well be a bracing but sympathetic look into precisely those people.

But even so, there's a lot still sadly urgent in a story about a middle class white man, intelligent and probably educated, who responds to the modern world with moralistic disgust and also fixation; who feels despised and outcast even tho' officially part of a privileged in-group; and who responds to this by projecting his rage and his disappointment onto various outgroups, into incoherent politics, and finally into a violence he hopes will be absolving and transfiguring. Trumpism is defined by an apocalyptic, millenarianist desire for modernity to be swept away, society cleansed, and a better order installed in its place (projected onto a loud empty figurehead). Taxi Driver feels apocalyptic in a similar way, the world seen through the eyes of a man who wants to blast the very scum from the streets, whose wish for a better world is inextricable from violent uprising. I haven't seen Taxi Driver in about as long as you, but I don't imagine it's lost any of its power. It might even be more provoking and uncomfortable now than 1976.

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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#213 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jun 26, 2022 12:09 pm

As a NYer born and raised, it was truly a war zone. Which lasted well into the 80s. As bad as things are today it's not even close to what it was back then. I grew up in two isolated middle class neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Marine Park Brooklyn. Isolated from what was going on in much of Manhattan and the poor neighborhoods in the the outer-boroughs. But reading the papers and watching the local news you couldn't escape what was going on. Plus, my father was a cop turned detective during those years. So, I would hear some detailed events from him. As a late teen I worked in a mob controlled catering hall on the weekends. Me and some co-workers would pile into a car after work, which was usually past midnight and head into Manhattan. We'd drive through Times Square and neighborhoods surrounding Time Square. It was like going to a nightmarish carnival. Prostitutes would be openly walking around and waiting for red lights that stop cars so they can go over and solicit the drivers. If the windows were open they would reach in and grab, well I'll let you figure out what they were reaching for, and if you said no they would grab anything you may have lying loose in the car. Back then neighborhoods like Chelsea and Tribeca you didn't want to be walking around at night by yourself. Today, rents for apartments, usually very old buildings, in those neighborhoods average around $3000 for a small studio (I could be on the low end of this). Everything in Taxi Driver is accurate. The feeling of dread and hopelessness was in the air both in the film and in real life. It has become my favorite Scorsese film because of the way it captures that era.

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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#214 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jun 26, 2022 4:09 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Jun 26, 2022 11:13 am
To a high schooler living in suburban Canada in the early aughts, Taxi Driver was like a glimpse into an alien world.
SpoilerShow
Image

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Re: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#215 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 27, 2022 1:42 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Jun 26, 2022 11:13 am
I like what you said, Matt, about it feeling very contemporary for a white man to become a folk hero for essentially committing mass murder. It's a movie ripe for interesting reassessment. The exact form of loneliness and alienation Travis displays...I don't want to say is no longer possible, but the internet has made it easy to find communities of similar disaffection. It's easy to imagine Travis these days finding groups like the proud boys and fitting right in. While I'd like to think of Travis as more conflicted, complicated, and articulate than a proud boys member, that might just be my way of avoiding a reality I find uncomfortable. Taxi Driver might well be a bracing but sympathetic look into precisely those people.

But even so, there's a lot still sadly urgent in a story about a middle class white man, intelligent and probably educated, who responds to the modern world with moralistic disgust and also fixation; who feels despised and outcast even tho' officially part of a privileged in-group; and who responds to this by projecting his rage and his disappointment onto various outgroups, into incoherent politics, and finally into a violence he hopes will be absolving and transfiguring.
The ultimate irony being that coming after the bloodbath of the final scene he finds that after his extreme actions (based on his worrying feelings of protectiveness - or maybe more - towards the underage prostitute) he is treated as a hero by the media who smooth down all the rough edges and more upsetting aspects of the shootout to present him as someone who was simply in the right place at the right time and did what any one of the members of their audience would have done in the same position. Almost a saviour figure to match Rodrigues being turned into a convenient iconographic Jesus figure whose image can be controlled for their own purposes by the Japanese officials in Silence. Something which makes for an extra ironic contrast if we think back to what the reaction would probably have been if he had committed his actions at the political rally rather than 'acceptably' amongst the dregs of society and on people who would not be missed and even celebrated for being removed from society. Circumstance played its part in whether he became famous or infamous, elevated to either a pariah or a hero, and neither simplistic view at either extreme would fully explain the complexities of his thought processes that led him to such blunt acts. But it is a perspective that in some ways is being imposed from a 'higher power' down onto them whilst the main character is just a man, confused and lashing out (often in a self-defeating manner) in order to figure out his place in the world. Maybe by provoking the reaction from peers that tells him his place and how he should feel about it (tellingly a reaction never really comes from God, who does not directly respond, and maybe never noticed what was going on at all, despite the presence of "God's eye view'" top-down shots)

I often think that there is a great thesis to be written about how all of Scorsese's lead characters could be seen and critiqued through that lens. Travis Bickle might be at the most extreme end of that kind of isolated figure who is arguably too much in their own head regarding how they relate to their world and thoughts about it, who eventually turns their inner musings (that only we in the audience are privileged to witness with them and which the entire film is often filtered through. Only in the case of Taxi Driver we don't get the incessant and insistent voiceovers of the later wise guy characters of Goodfellas, Casino and The Wolf of Wall Street) outwards in a kind of terrifying fashion in a manner that impacts on the wider society which they are somewhat awkwardly operating within.

For example there are also figures such as Jake LaMotta, who turns the self loathing mostly onto himself and his body rather than widely outwards (though there are the domestic abuse scenes; and his abuse of his body does seemingly self-sabotage his boxing career); and Rodrigues from Silence is constantly rather aloof towards the impact he is having on the wider world just by his mere presence, being too caught up in his own troubles and self-pitying reaction to them for the most part. The main character from Shutter Island is literally the architect of his own troubles. Newland Archer in The Age of Innocence too. Howard Hughes and Jesus Christ.The people around these main characters are often (if seen uncharitably) used as pawns in a larger internal philosophy that it seems that the main character is trying to explain to themselves, and occasionally the audience, through the insistent and dangerously seductively leading voices in their heads.

Maybe the best aspect of Scorsese's films is that they do try to sympathise with all sorts of flawed, occasionally extremely violent, but still human (too human for some in the case of Last Temptation!) protagonists. And in showing the way (perhaps in as interesting a manner as Nicolas Roeg did) that internal thought processes become externalised into concrete physical actions, which themselves have their own consequences that filter back into the thought processes in a kind of feedback loop.

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