Wednesday, January 09, 2008

You talkin' to me?

Travis Bickle is one of the most important characters from modern cinema. He represents the alienated urban angst (of course, in a very inflated manner) which a modern city life brings with it.

‘You talkin’ to me?’ remains one of the most famous movie lines ever. In fact, after seeing De Niro (playing Travis) practising the legendary line in front of the mirror, I went up to my mirror to do the same, sans the pistol and the contraption on my body. Later, I started dropping in that line in every interaction with my friends. It was the coolest line ever written. I was at an impressionable age. But, 30 years on, it remains one of the coolest line. Certain magazine rates it amongst Top 10 movie lines ever.

The creators of this movie history were Paul Schrader, the writer; Martin Scorsese, the director and Robert DeNiro, the great actor along with many others. They named it Taxi Driver and it was released in 1976, the year when my mother would’ve started driving me in a perambulator. I was born in the same year.

Apart from uttering these cool self-indulgent lines, Travis, a cabbie in New York maintains a Diary in which he documents his life and street life of NYC. He doesn’t like what he sees and feels and puts it across in frustrated words and apart from many other excellent aspects, this remains the best part of the movie, for me. Actually, his anger sums up the purpose of the movie and also explains the minor mental instability of the character. Paul Schrader has done wonders with the screenplay. An excerpt from Travis’s Diary:

"Thank God for the rain...which has helped wash away the garbage and trash off the sidewalks. I'm working long hours now: in the afternoon too : sometimes : in the morning. Six days a week, sometimes seven days a week. It's a long hustle, but it keeps me real busy. I can take in a week, sometimes more when I do if off the meter.

All the animals come out at night.Whores, skunks, pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies. Sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, to Harlem. I don't care. Don't make no difference to me."

Or , this:

"Twelve hours of work, and I still can't sleep. Damn! The days go on and on. They don't end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don't believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention. I believe that someone should become a person like other people."

For the full screenplay, you can go over here.

Why am I writing on Taxi Driver is because the other day, a friend sent me a link to another movie. It’s a German porn flick trying to pass as an educational material or the other way around. I really don’t know as I haven’t seen it. It’s called Karlekens Sprak and it figures in Bickle's life.

So, Travis likes this girl called Betsy (played by Cybill Shepherd) and wants to take her to a movie and she agrees. So he takes her to this porno and she gets disgusted within 15 minutes to leave the theater and him. Travis is genuinely unable to understand her. The sequence is quiet funny and goes on another step to establish the mental set-up of the character. Apart from the gore and morbidity which it is famous for, the flick has some funny moments too.

Thanks for the link, Atish!


Anonymous said...

Doug Butabi: Hey, you wanna dance, huh? Me? Him?

Spiff said...

Somehow after I saw taxi driver - I feel a little let down by another favorite movie of mine - Fight Club. Possibly because the start is a little similar. Perhaps it was an inspiration...

meraj said...

i havent seen A Night at the Roxbury, but its supposed to be a laugh riot, eh?

somehow, I always Fight Club a little juvenile...probably because i saw 'Taxi...' much before it.

Bapi said...

I believe, we should not be comparing the two classics on the same parameters. 'Taxi driver' is an in depth analysis of a character who tries and fits in the world through his way of life, its a slice of real life drama. 'Fight Club" on the other hand is an extreme case of ' slice of imagination'. In both the cases its a phenomenon performance by the creative team.

alien said...

i love both of the movies, for reasons i don't know but yes i got to know about both by your blog only...but the photo makes me remember you... try clicking a photo of yours and see you look like young AL PACINO. This is how i remember your face with a hat, six pocket, appy & singing "lunatics are in my head...(DARK SIDE OF THE MOON)".

alien said...

sorry for the mistake "DE Niro" is the one i mean "the raging bull".... if u remember zeenat aman and parveen boby;

meraj said...

youve got a point there...its just that i dont think Fight Club is a classic.

heh...those were the days of Hat, Appies, 4 Ps and all of us were lunatics. thanks for that large-hearted compliment but i dont think am anywhere close to De Niro...Pacino? well, maybe :)


phish said...

taxi driver. ah. you dwell deep and secure my friend. thank you for sharing this.

and go and watch deliverance.

meraj said...

i shouldve mentioned this in the post itself...this post is a tribute to the great writers like Paul Schrader who have always made movies so memorable. its their ill fate, that the actors who utter the dialogues are remembered rather than the writers.

but, am glad that the actors boycotted the Globes, showing solidarity to the writers. about time, writers got their due.