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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taxi Driver (released in 1976) - A movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Jodie Foster

Taxi Driver is an iconic movie, one of the earlier movies by Martin Scorsese that made him famous (starting with the reputation he had gained by Mean Streets), and stars some of the same people from the movie. The movie was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, although it did not win any (it did win a Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival). The movie is also famous for another more nefarious reason, being linked to a Presidential assassination attempt (when John Hinckley, Jr. confessed that he was obsessed with Jodie Foster's role in the movie as the reason for his attempt to kill President Ronald Reagen in 1981). The movie was set in a now familiar location, the seedy parts and locations of New York, with the main character being tormented by various emotional issues, almost being self-destructive. In fact, the movie was shot during a heat wave in New York, and at the time of a strike by garbage workers. The movie won critical acclaim, but also became controversial due to the violence (and in fact, Scorsese changed the colors of the ending, making the colors desaturated to try and reduce the impact of the violence).

The movie is set in the year 1976, the same movie as the year of release, and set in the period after the Vietnam War, where there were a large number of veterans out from the war, suffering through all kinds of emotional trauma. This is the story of one emotionally distraught person, 26 year old Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who lives in Mahattan; he is not gainfully employed and covers that with his parents by claiming that he works for a government agencies where a lot of secrecy is required. In reality, he is lonely, out of work, and drives taxis in New York at night to cover his insomnia, and spends the days in porn theaters. To anybody who asks, he claims that he was a Marine during the Vietnam War, with a large VietCong flag and a scar as evidence.
He falls for a volunteer (Betsy (Cybill Shepherd)) for the election campaign of Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris), who is running for President. He gets into the campaign office by offering to volunteer, and manages to get a coffee and movie date with Betsy, but blows up the romance by taking her to see a sex education movie, which offends her. She rejects his attempts after that. At around the same time, Bickle is getting more disgusted with the street crime that he sees around him, and starts to develop his body intensely. He also thinks about assassinating Senator Palatine, but drops the attempt when Secret Service agents notice him. At around this time, Iris (Jodie Foster), a 12 year old sex worker tries to use his cab to escape her pimp, but fails. When Bickle encounters her again, he gets focused on trying to save her from the clutches of her pimp Sport, and back to her parents. He gets him into more violence, including gunfire in which Bickle kills Sport (Harvey Keitel) and another customer of Iris.

Taxi Driver (released in 1976) - A movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Jodie Foster

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