Listen now | Today’s movie is Taxi Driver directed by Martin Scorsese. Taxi Driver is the quintessential “unlikable main character” movie, and it’s probably Scorsese’s best film. Robert De Niro plays Travis, a lonely misanthrope who eventually descends into a frightening delusion. We both think this movie is absolutely fantastic, with one major exception - Casey can’t stand the music.
Holy smokes you weren't kidding about the HBO description. Not only is it misinterpreting why he goes mad, but it also spoils the ending of the movie! "The cab driver is driven to madness by urban decay and becomes a one-man vigilante killing several hoodlums to free a sub-teen hooker."
At this level of suckage, they could just use GPT-4 with a prompt like: "In one sentence, introduce the movie X without any spoilers." and they'd get significantly better descriptions than this.
This is one of my top 5 films, and I agree it’s Scorsese’s best (Goodfellas would be my second choice). I also agree that the music is the weakest part, and I’d happily watch an edit with a different soundtrack, but it’s not a deal breaker when everything else works so well.
The scene that sticks with me the most is when Travis gets rejected over the phone, and the camera pans away from him to show an empty hallway as he rambles and desperately tries to salvage the conversation. I think most directors would do a close up on De Niro’s face here, but we barely see his face in the whole scene. It’s such a brilliant way to illustrate how alone he is, and how he can’t bare to confront his problems directly. It feels like you’re dissociating from the scene as you watch it. I can’t think of anything in another Scorsese film that hits me in the same way.
You didn’t talk much about the ending, and I’m curious your thoughts, particularly whether you read it as a fantasy or not. Personally, I think it’s more interesting to read it literally. It seems to be directly challenging the audience, suggesting that we’ll happily celebrate nihilistic violence as long as it’s directed against the right people, and pushing us to look for the darkness in the people we celebrate. Reading it as a fantasy seems like a way of getting ourselves off the hook.
I love this movie, but it is only my second favorite Scorsese and De Niro collaboration, behind Raging Bull which is in my opinion Scorsese 's best movie, which would have been another great movie to cover this month. Unlikeable protagonists is a pretty common theme in his work, that I only really actively noticed when seeing this movie being labeled in that category.