By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 2, 2011)
Taxi Driver – Sony Blu-ray
Equal parts film noir, character study and sociopolitical commentary, this was one of the most important (if disturbing) films to emerge from the American film renaissance of the 1970s, due in no small part to the artistic trifecta of directing, writing and acting talents involved (Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, and Robert De Niro, respectively).
De Niro plays alienated Vietnam vet Travis Bickle, who takes a night job as a cabbie. Prowling New York City’s meanest streets, Travis kills time between fares fantasizing about methods he might use to eradicate the seedy milieu he observes night after night to jibe with his exacting world view of How Things Should Be. It’s truly unnerving to watch as it becomes more and more clear that Travis is the proverbial ticking time bomb. His eventual homicidal catharsis still has the power to shock and is not for the squeamish.
The outstanding supporting cast includes a then-teenage Jodie Foster (nominated for an Oscar), Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, Cybill Shepherd and Albert Brooks. The film’s memorable score is by the late Bernard Herrmann (it was one of his final projects).
Sony went all out for their Blu-ray edition, transferring from a digitally restored print; Michael Chapman’s striking cinematography really comes to the fore. The new HD audio mix is also a plus.