First show: August 05

(1976) “You talkin’ to me?” Robert De Niro’s insomniac cabbie Travis Bickle, amid his nocturnal 12-hour shifts, yearns in moody voice-over for a rain that’ll “wash all the scum off the streets”, while he ferries presidential candidate Leonard Harris (then Channel 2 entertainment critic) and Scorsese’s own hopped-up cuckold; tentatively tries for a date with campaign worker Cybill Shepherd; and silently spectates as pimp Harvey Keitel yanks 12-year-old hooker Jodie Foster out of his cab; as Bernard Herrmann’s brooding score — his last — presages the blow-ups to come. Shot during a sweltering NYC summer-cum-garbage strike, Scorsese’s contribution to the Bicentennial was inspired by the diaries of Arthur Bremer (would-be assassin of presidential candidate George Wallace), Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, and screenwriter Paul Schrader’s own near-nervous breakdown. In one of his legendarily obsessive role preparations, De Niro drove his own shifts on a temporary cabbi’s license, lost over 20 pounds, and listened to tapes of Bremer’s diaries, then ad-libbed his memorable soliloquy to a mirror. Today, still one of the screen’s greatest evocations of urban alienation — and a time capsule of a long-gone world of dial phones, Kris Kristofferson LPs, Checker cabs, and 42nd Street grindhouses — all stunningly shot in lurid color by Michael Chapman, though the blood-spattered finale had to be desaturated to get an R rating; Scorsese claims he now finds it more shocking that way. Palme d’Or at Cannes, and four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture; it lost to Rocky. (Film Forum)

“Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film [Taxi Driver] is a film that does not grow dated, or over-familiar. I have seen it dozens of times. Every time I see it, it works; I am drawn into Travis’ underworld of alienation, loneliness, haplessness and anger.” – Roger Ebert

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Paul Schrader. Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd. The United States. Language: English, Spanish. 1976. DCP. 114 minutes.


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