Taxi Driver

Singin in the Rain

What’s the best movie ever made? Would the person sitting next to you agree? Does the title really matter, or is the search a happy distraction meant to let the cream of the crop rise to the top? What happens when you watch a bunch of that cream? And why has “cream” become a metaphor for quality? The Sight & Sound Top 50 is a great place to start with all of those questions. For almost two years, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs have been watching the best movies of all time and discussing them with the aim of discovering and re-discovering important cinematic experiences. Now that their quest is over, here are their thoughts and conclusions on what it’s like to see that many treasured movies, followed with links to all 50 conversations for your perusal. Take a deep breath, grab a bowl of cream and dive in.

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Travis Bickle

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they compare Travis Bickle to Don Quixote and try to understand the many contradictions of Martin Scorsese’s angry masterpiece. In the #31 (tied with The Godfather: Part II) movie on the list, Robert De Niro shaves his head, fights with a mirror and tries to rights society’s wrongs with a bullet. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Breaking Bad Walter White

Over at Badass Digest, the astute Meredith Borders is raising an important question about unlikable lead characters and the impact they have on audiences liking the movie they’re in. After all, negating the use of unlikable characters is creatively limiting, but some movie fans simply don’t care for those movies which glorify the dastardly and dickish. In her well-intentioned pursuit, Borders brings up the crew from It’s Always Sunny, Walter White from Breaking Bad and the various man-children and woman-children that have hit theaters in the past few years. The problem is, in trying to defend unlikable characters, all the characters she mentions are perfectly likable. They’re just assholes. The difference is an important distinction – one that plays toward how an audience responds to storytelling at a raw level.

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In his review of Mean Streets, Roger Ebert claimed that Martin Scorsese had the potential to become the American Fellini in ten years. It probably didn’t really take that long. Scorsese is a living library of film, but he isn’t a dusty repository of knowledge. He’s a vibrant, imaginative creator who might know more about movies than anyone else on the planet, and that makes him uniquely qualified to be both prolific and proficient. Over the course of his career, he’s created indelible works bursting with anger, violence, fragility, care, and wonder. Never content to stick with one story mode, he’s run the gamut of styles and substance. So here’s a free bit of film school (for filmmakers and fans alike) from our American Fellini.

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Tim & Eric

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things you’ll want to read, even if they didn’t originate on this website. We know, we know, all the good stuff can only come from Film School Rejects. But every once in a while (at least 8 times per day), other websites strike gold. And we’re here to celebrate their modest victories. We begin tonight with an image from Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, one of a number released today by Magnolia Pictures. It features Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim as… well, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. But apparently people find this funny. Having watched numerous episodes of their show, I’m not convinced that they’ve ever been funny. But who am I to argue with the masses? Oh right, I do argue with the masses. Seriously, guys, this stuff isn’t funny. At all.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that has been working really hard lately at its other job. So if it gets a little loopy this evening, please cut it some slack. We begin tonight with Keanu Reeves and Chloe Moretz reenacting a scene from Taxi Driver. It’s part of a photo spread in Harper’s Bazaar celebrating the work of Martin Scorsese. Something about this is a little creepy.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we take on the cinematic emotional roller coaster by speaking with comedian Bill Bailey about getting him hired for the next Star Trek movie and by dissecting Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle with psychologist, Dr. Jeff Greenberg. Plus, Landon Palmer joins me for a long-form discussion about the terrorist attacks of 9/11, their effects on movie culture, and on audiences. Download This Episode

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Criterion Files

Bob Rafelson’s highly underrated The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) works as something of an unofficial sequel to his beloved previous film and the rightful centerpiece of the BBS Story, Five Easy Pieces (1970). After the “farcidelia” of Head, Rafelson’s second film could not be further from its opposite in tone, aesthetics, and overall relation to the counterculture, whose narrative absence is used to great effect in the latter film. It wasn’t until Rafelson’s third film as director that his identity as a filmmaker started to solidify through his continued exploration of themes shared between films. Like many filmmakers of the New Hollywood generation, Rafleson possessed symptoms of the self-conscious auteur, but the similarities between Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens go far beyond surface connections that denote a consistent cinematic personality behind the camera in terms of themes and style, but instead point to a rare kind of filmmaker altogether during New Hollywood or any era.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray, it’s off to the late 70s, early 80s, mid 90s and the future as seen through the mind of a computer. I won’t even dare mention the trip back to the home of The Fockers, as it’s but a slight detour on our road to an excellent week of Blu-ray releases. So get ready for the old, the new and all of the best in-betweens, because it’s time to go shopping. TRON: Special Edition It’s time to go back to where it all began. That’s what Disney did with this wonderful release, they went back to a time when TRON was new and incredible and captured it. We often see releases touting a “restored” or “enhanced” version of a pre-DVD era film, but rarely to we see a release with such a noticeable restoration. There is a vibrancy and pulsing energy to the world of TRON on Blu-ray that was never included on any DVD release. The journey of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) inside the computer has never been so life-like, nor has it ever looked so now. As the cherry, the TRON Blu-ray is lined with special features — several hours worth, to say the least. The best of them is “The TRON Phenomenon,” a look at the pop culture impact of Steven Lisberger’s technoventure. If you found yourself wondering why folks were so emotionally invested in TRON: Legacy‘s release, this featurette helps give you the why. The Blu-ray itself is a big slice of […]

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Culture Warrior

You hear the phrase “This movie could never be made today” quite often, and it’s typically a thinly veiled means by which a creative team allows themselves to administer loving pats on their own backs. But in the context of at a 35th anniversary exhibition of the restoration of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with a justifiably disgruntled Paul Schrader in attendance, such a sentence rings profoundly and depressingly true. Like many of you, I’ve seen Taxi Driver many times before. For many, it’s a formative moment in becoming a cinephile. But I had never until last weekend seen the film outside of a private setting. And in a public screening, on the big screen, I’m happy to say the film still has the potential to shock and profoundly affect viewers so many decades on. For me personally it was the most disturbing of any time I’d ever seen the film, and I was appropriately uncomfortable despite anticipating the film’s every beat. Perhaps it was because I was sharing the film’s stakes with a crowd instead of by myself or with a small group of people, or perhaps the content comes across as so much more subversive when projected onto a giant screen, or perhaps it was because the aura of a room always feels different when the creative talent involved is in attendance. For whatever reason, I found the film to be more upsetting than in any other context of viewing. But one of the most appalling moments of Taxi […]

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This being my third Cannes Film Festival in a row, I feel I’m now in the privileged position to demand something of the festival in return for standing thanklessly in queues in the baking sun, and allowing my English Rose skin to wilt/burst into flames under the unforgiving French Riviera sun. So, with that in mind, below is a run-down of what I’d ideally like to see when I get to Cannes in May – along with a few reasonable predictions, based on what’s coming up.

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Are you tired of watching Travis Bickle get angrier and angrier on that tiny 72” Hi-Def plasma TV of yours? Me too, and I only watch your TV when you’re not at home. Imagine how tired I’d be if I did it more often. Fortunately for both of us, AMC is bringing Taxi Driver to the big screen. It’s a consolation prize for Lars Von Trier not forcing Martin Scorsese to remake it, but it’s a consolation prize I’ll take any day of the week. You should too (unless you’re truly hung up on seeing it on a 4K digital projector, and if you are, it’s a completely legitimate hang up), and here’s when you can check out it: Saturday, March 19th @ 8PM and Tuesday, March 22nd @ 8PM. Where do you need to go? Any of these choice AMC Theaters that might happen to be near your home:

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, then go buy a suit from Tom Ford’s Fall line to cheer yourself up. Part 12 of the 36-part series takes a look at “All Sacrificed for Passion” with fashion designer Tom Ford’s feature directorial debut A Single Man.

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So Lars Von Trier isn’t forcing Martin Scorsese to remake Taxi Driver. Who cares? Here are ten directors that the madman should punish for being geniuses.

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Even though he did meet Martin Scorsese this week in Berlin, director Lars von Trier is not going to be remaking, rebooting, rehashing or retwisting the Scorsese classic Taxi Driver. That is, if someone like Peter Aalbaek is to be believed.

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Seth Rogen is a Busy Man

Seth Rogen laid down some interview tracks related to all of his upcoming projects, including Observe and Report, The Green Hornet, Ghostbusters 3 and Judd Apatow’s Funny People.

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