Tag Archives: Albert Brooks

Taxi Driver (1976) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Jodie Foster as Iris “Easy” Steensma
Cybill Shepherd as Betsy
Harvey Keitel as Charles “Sport” Rain/”Matthew”
Albert Brooks as Tom
Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine
Peter Boyle as “Wizard”
Director: Martin Scorsese

Taxi driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. In nearly every phase of his life, he remains a complete outsider, failing to make emotional contact with anyone. He’s a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy (Cybil Shepherd), a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palantine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the savior for Iris (Jodie Foster), a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Sport (Harvey Keitel).

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Martin Scorsese at this point in his career had shown himself to be quite a good director, after his first two movies with him starting off, he then progressed a lot more to deliver some very good films with Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here. After those movies however came Martin Scorsese’s first masterpiece with Taxi Driver. Over 4 decades later it’s still an absolute classic and absolutely holds up.

Paul Schrader’s script for Taxi Driver is fantastic, with some great dialogue and overall is just really well constructed. The movie is just under a couple hours long, I guess it slowed down in parts, but I was invested throughout the entire runtime. The thing that really drives the movie is the main character, and his journey and descent; it’s much more of a character driven sort of movie than a plot focussed one. The lead character of Travis Bickle is one of the most fascinating protagonists I’ve seen in a movie. One of the things that make him so compelling especially with discussions of the movie is that everyone has their own thoughts about him. Some see him as a flawed anti-hero that is trying his best to do the right thing, others see him as an unstable psychopath and a time bomb waiting to go off. Taxi Driver puts you really inside his head and it really is seen through his perspective, and it made me uncomfortable being stuck there, so I think it did it’s job. The movie is definitely not necessarily endorsing his actions, even if there’s not active character saying that they are wrong. It’s a cautionary tale about violence, and thematically it really was ahead of its time, it’s still quite relevant today even. The most recent viewing was the 3rd time I saw it, and there are plenty of details that I picked up on repeat viewings. This film can be seen in many different ways, especially the final scenes. The ending definitely leaves room for many different interpretations, as this is definitely a movie with an unreliable narrator.

Robert De Niro is at his best here, embodying the character of Travis Bickle completely. He does well at being very deranged and unstable in an effectively subtle way. The narration throughout the movie could’ve just been exposition and an easy way for audiences to hear his thoughts, but it really works here as it’s like we’re trapped in his head with him, as this dialogue is what he’s writing in his diary. No matter what Bickle does, you can’t stop watching him. Personally I think it’s best for you to go into the movie and decide for yourself what you think of him. A fantastic performance and character. The supporting cast don’t get a ton of screentime, but they nonetheless do add quite a lot to the movie. Jodie Foster here is in one of her early roles as the underage prostitute that Travis eventually comes across, and she is really good. Other actors like Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks and Harvey Keitel also do great in their parts. Even Martin Scorsese is effectively unsettling (intentionally) in a one scene role, as a very disturbed passenger that Travis Bickle encounters during his job.

It’s no surprise that Martin Scorsese’s direction is fantastic, his work here on this movie is timeless. It’s got such a great look throughout but it really shines during the night time moments, I really can’t get over the use of colour. Scorsese perfectly captures New York City, really giving it a dirty feel throughout the movie. Throughout the movie you really get this feeling of disconnection and loneliness, just like how Travis Bickle is feeling throughout. Overall this movie has been really well put together. The score by Bernard Hermann (which is also worth noting is his final score) is great, ranging from calm and jazzy to intense and screeching, and had a bit of a sleezy tone that fits perfectly with the film.

Taxi Driver is a fantastic movie and still holds up extremely well today. Martin Scorsese’s direction is pretty much perfect, Paul Schrader’s screenplay is very well written and constructed, and Robert De Niro is absolutely outstanding here. There’s honestly not much more that I can say that hasn’t been said already, hence why this review isn’t longer or more in depth. Much of the gratness must be experienced for yourself. Absolute essential viewing.

Drive (2011)

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Drive

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Nicholas Winding-Refn
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as The Driver
Carey Mulligan as Irene
Bryan Cranston as Shannon
Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose
Oscar Isaac as Standard
Christina Hendricks as Blanche
Ron Perlman as Nino

A mysterious driver (Ryan Gosling) works as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver. He helps his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband is in prison and her son Benicio and he falls in love with her. Later on Standard (Oscar Isaac), Irene’s husband is released from prison but owes people some money. The driver decides to help him out by being the getaway driver to a heist but problems occur. This is based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis.

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Drive is one of the best directed films I’ve ever seen; it has some of the best cinematography, good performances and an engaging story. Although it will be polarizing to some people and not for everyone, for me, it is a masterpiece and is one of the most memorable movies I have ever seen.

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Drive is one of those movies that you have to be careful of what you expect; on the surface it looks like The Transporter but instead of having Jason Statham in the lead role, it’s Ryan Gosling; this is not like that. Also, don’t watch the trailer; it misrepresents what the movie is like, as well as spoiling a lot the plot. Despite the film being called ‘Drive’ there aren’t as many car scenes as you’d think, when they are there however, they are some of the best a film can have; the opening scene is a good example of this. This movie’s pacing does take its time, especially the first half after the intro. The film has a lot of themes which can lead to it being analyse-worthy; there are also some symbolism, for example with the scorpion on the back of Gosling’s jacket is often related with the story of the frog and the scorpion. The whole movie for me interested me from start to finish.

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Ryan Gosling was superb in this role; he has a very subtle performance which works best for his character. His character is mysterious and doesn’t speak that much in this movie. This is one of those performances where he is able to emote what the character is feeling even with just his eyes. Carey Mulligan is also really good in this movie and shares good chemistry with Gosling. The supporting cast was also really good like Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks who are also great. Albert Brooks is particularly good, presenting a villainous side of him that we really haven’t really seen before.

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This movie looks beautiful; the cinematography here is one of the best I’ve seen, I haven’t seen the city of L.A. filmed this well since Collateral. There aren’t many scenes of action but when they are, they are well filmed and are very tense. Also worth noting are the short bursts of sudden graphic bloody violence; it really contrasts in this movie from the calm tone it presented in the first half. It isn’t the Tarantino type of gore; it’s more of a David Cronenberg type of gore. There is also something retro about Drive, whether it would be the neon opening or the unique music. The music is also worth mentioning as it is nothing like I’ve heard before in a movie; it is an electronic pop synthesiser that somehow really fits in with this movie’s tone. The whole movie overall feels very dreamlike with the cinematography and music.

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Drive is a completely different movie than it would seem at first but it’s undeniably a masterpiece. A modern day Bullitt, it succeeds in being incredible to experience and to watch. The film’s slower pace after the intro may turn off some viewers, as well as the graphic violence, so I will say that this movie isn’t for everyone. However this is one of the best directed movies I’ve seen, and has stuck with me since I first saw it.