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My 500 favourite films
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Monkeypox
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:


I think the point you're missing is that Taxi Driver doesn't condone Travis Bickle's actions, or society's (apparent) positive reaction to them; rather, it finds them distressing and pitiable. I think the tone of the epilogue bears this out.




indeed.



i find the ending chilling, and i believe that's the intention.
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That may have been Scorsese's intention, i've thought about it, and i know he liked the contrast between stylish filming and the character's flaws in The Conformist for instance. But i trust my gut reaction and what i think the ending's more likely appeal is (not what it ought to be). Some critics have described the film's violence as "cathartic" as if a positive, and for me the final letter of thanks condones it too, however Travis may have been portrayed beforehand. + Schrader's involvement doesn't exactly undermine my reading of it.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenji wrote:
That may have been Scorsese's intention, i've thought about it, and i know he liked the contrast between stylish filming and the character's flaws in The Conformist for instance.


Wasn't The Conformist Bertolucci?



Quote:
But i trust my gut reaction and what i think the ending's more likely appeal is (not what it ought to be). Some critics have described the film's violence as "cathartic" as if a positive, and for me the final letter of thanks condones it too, however Travis may have been portrayed beforehand. + Schrader's involvement doesn't exactly undermine my reading of it.


I think that's perfectly fair, but also think your assumption that only a Bush-backing, gung-ho gun lover could possibly find something to like about Taxi Driver is both reactionary and deeply unfair. Your interpretation might be defensible, but for me a more accurate reading deals with how Schrader and Scorsese attempt to excavate the psychology of psychosis--the ending is, as NW said, not cathartic but distressing. I once wrote, "In Taxi Driver a lonely deviant loathes society but can't quite explain his pressurized torment. Scorsese wants to understand why a psychopath searches for discharge, and his thoughtful exploration of numbed-out violence is more relevant now than upon its initial 1976 release. We are not entertained by the film's blood, but we learn from it."



Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenji wrote:
But i trust my gut reaction and what i think the ending's more likely appeal is (not what it ought to be).


I can certainly understand that position, but wouldn't consistency demand a similar condemnation of Scarface? (That's a picture that I personally believe is a turgid and adolescent celebration of all things guns-and-drugs-and-cursing: a "likely appeal" that the hip-hop culture's embrace certainly bears out).



Sidebar: I just want to publicly thank Kenji for jumpstarting an interesting film thread. It's been awhile since we had one.



Eric
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was wondering about Scarface being politically inconsistent and that may well be a very good point. It's years since i saw it, my recollections are now quite vague and i mainly remember preferring it to Hawks' version, so it somehow crept into my selection.



More on inconsistency, well i think The Searchers is majestic and like Taxi Driver it could be said to be ambiguous about its central character- John Wayne being a racist yet still we are encouraged to support his will to rescue Debbie from the nasty Injuns (Scar played by a white man!), though not to support his idea of "rescue", and scenes like the mis-treatment of the Indian "wife" apparently played for laughs are very uncomfortable. I think it's a majestic film ,and like Taxi Driver a big influence on Wenders (see Paris Texas), but it still seems quite reactionary, especially by today's standards even if it could also be called extremely honest about Western hero figures still being racist. It also happens to be a Scorsese favourite and i'm sure he was trying for ambiguity.



Yeah, The Conformist; i mentioned it just as an example of blending quite lush cinematic flair + visuals with the study of a disturbed + confused individual. You're right, it would be completely unfair to imply only gung-ho Republicans should or could like Taxi Driver. It's been interpreted very differently by all shades of political opinion. No doubt this fact could be presented as a sign of its richness, and no doubt too it's a complex portrait of a loner in troubled times in a disturbed society after Vietnam etc. I was just extending my bit of mischievous fun in the role of Clockwork Orange victim at the hands of oppressive brain-washers, and of course it's just my own strongly felt take on the film.



Schrader: well he loved La Regle du Jeu by the left-wing humanist Renoir, as well as being attracted by right-wing figures like Mishima and by a right-wing strain of religion. A main theme of Scorsese's career is violence v spirituality and i presume he was wanting both elements competing here too, as probably was Schrader. But for me any spiritual aspect being aimed for is out of place in an ending that can so easily be interpreted as pro-vigilanteism (and at once struck me that way). My impression was some sort of redemption had now been achieved, Travis back on the straight and narrow, after the bloodshed.



Excellent quote of your writing on the film by the way. More power to your elbow for seeing the film in that light but many less enlightened souls will be entertained by the violence and not delve into subtler meanings. Reminds me of the British TV comedy Till Death us do Part in the 70's with a ludicrously racist main character. The writer's intentions were satirical but a large chunk of the audience laughed with, not at, the racism.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But should we fault a filmmaker for assuming his audience is intelligent?
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.18.2005 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
But should we fault a filmmaker for assuming his audience is intelligent?


I was about to say the same thing.



Eric
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 03.19.2005 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not explaining myself at all well. What i mean is that it's clear enough Scorsese isn't condoning Travis' actions or behaviour for most of the film - far from it- but the ending, whatever the intentions, gives me the sense that Travis' violence is the best thing he does (not only for a suffering young girl, but also for his own personality). My reaction may be partly cos i'm over-sensitive on that issue, but i also reckon people with hateful political views will, + do, welcome the ending. A director can aim at intelligent viewers but still be mindful of the actual impact a film is likely to have/ the message it leaves many viewers with- if it's construed differently than intended perhaps that may be due to a flaw?



Anyway, i'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, given Scorsese's decency + sensitivity in his study of film history etc, (never mind excellent films like The Age of Innocence and Raging Bull) and cos sensible people here like it so much! But don't get me going on Gangs of New York!
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.20.2005 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
But should we fault a filmmaker for assuming his audience is intelligent?




On the other side of the coin, I don?t think we can blame a particular movie for the reaction it provokes in dummies, especially if the reaction is clearly antithetical to its own viewpoint. Scarface may be popular among wannabe gangsters for the wrong reasons (or for limited reasons), but that doesn?t prove that there?s not more to it. And I?m not even sure that Taxi Driver appeals to right-wing nutjobs, certainly not in the same capacity that Mike Hammer novels, Death Wish, or lunk-headed country songs like Toby Keith?s ?Beer for My Horses? do. I may be wrong on this front, and if I am I'd be curious to read some commentaries/reviews that support it as a pro-vigilante.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.21.2005 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Scarface may be popular among wannabe gangsters for the wrong reasons (or for limited reasons), but that doesn?t prove that there?s not more to it.


Indeed. Watching the movie proves there's not more to it. Very Happy



Perhaps watch is the wrong word. Endure, perhaps, or survive?



Eric
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Monkeypox
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PostPosted: 03.21.2005 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
the night watchman wrote:
Scarface may be popular among wannabe gangsters for the wrong reasons (or for limited reasons), but that doesn?t prove that there?s not more to it.


Indeed. Watching the movie proves there's not more to it. Very Happy



Perhaps watch is the wrong word. Endure, perhaps, or survive?



Eric




nice.
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a35mmlife
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PostPosted: 06.08.2005 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

omg.

i cant even go through that list to find your omissions and gems. could you database it for us? Wink geez.



btw.



i <3 the conformist.
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