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Thread: 28 Film Discussion Threads Later

  1. #69851
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Could it simply just be hate for all people? Outside of the two females, does he admire/trust anyone else without sarcasm?

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  2. #69852
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    Could it simply just be hate for all people? Outside of the two females, does he admire/trust anyone else without sarcasm?
    Good point.

    He must work retail.

  3. #69853
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    The Lavender Hill Mob - C+/B-

    Fine? Pleasant? I dunno. Crisp, impressive direction and shot selection in the caper section in the back half. I've seen one Ealing before (The Ladykillers), and there's something about the comic rhythm of these films that I can't quite latch onto. The film isn't labored, but it never really hits takeoff velocity as a laugh-getter. If the goal is to make me smile every now and then, I guess mission accomplished. Gonna try Kind Hearts and Coronets on Thursday, give this production team one more shot.

  4. #69854
    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    When I saw Taxi Driver for the first time as a youngster (I think I was 13/14) I very much thought the film painted him as a hero.

    Subsequent viewings showed I was very wrong in that regard (too damn young to get it at the time) but I maintain that there are scenes which certainly seem to affirm some of his worldview, and that is troubling.
    Agreed; the problem isn't that Travis hates black men, it's that every black man in the film seems to at least hate him too, even when they're not straight-up threats to him or someone else (which some of them are as well), and every single one of them comes off as a thin, sterotypical abstraction, to the point that, like the article said, one of the African-American bit players in the film is literally credited as nothing more than "Angry Black Man". While Travis clearly holds an amount of ire towards women as well, no one can credibly accuse Driver of accidentally feeling sexist, since it makes its female characters feel like, well, actual characters; Iris is a conflicted runaway with her own, independent perspective on life, and Betsy is a well-adjusted professional who takes a chance on this awkward total stranger who she finds intriguing, and only (justifiably) rejects him after he takes her on the world's worst first date ever. None of the female characters are portrayed as being relentlessly, knee-jerk "cold" to Travis right off the bat, which is what they would've been if the film had characterized them in a similar way that it did black men. Anyway, like I said, I do like Taxi Driver a lot, but, and it still feels as though there were some racial blindspots that Scorsese didn't realize that he had while directing it, and, just like L.A. Confidential, I can still love the film as a whole for its great aspects, while still acknowledge its racial depictions as troublesome.
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 09-02-2020 at 08:11 AM.

  5. #69855
    Producer Yxklyx's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    I shared this excellent article on the problematic depictions of black men in Taxi Driver on another forum today, which is inspiring some great discussion there, so in the interests of continuing that here, I'd like to say that, while the style of the film is, for the most part, clearly immersed in Travis's fucked-up psyche, none of the events are straight-up imagined by him Joker-style, so, whether or not the moment when the stereotypical black pimps stare menacingly at Travis has the camera ominously pushing in to represent his hateful perspective or not, they're still stereotypical black pimps staring at him in a menacing fashion regardless (in the same scene where the black cabbie does nothing but give a hard stare of his own in response to being introduced to him, to boot). To make the film's opposition to Travis's mindset clearer, it didn't necessarily need to have a "friendly" (or at the very least, non-threatening) black/male character in it (although that wouldn't have hurt), as, like the article said, it would've been an incredibly quick fix to have Travis hatefully staring at some black men while they're doing something mundane and non-threatening, like merely talking amongst each other, but the way that Taxi Driver doesn't merely portray them as threats from Travis's sketchy PoV, but also depicts them that way in its objective reality ends up partly, unintentionally "justifying" Travis's racism in the context of the film, IMO.
    This movie is from the 70s - you're going to find similar issues with ~95% of all 70s films especially those based in NYC. It'd be more interesting to look at which films from that period don't have these issues.
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  6. #69856
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Yxklyx (view post)
    This movie is from the 70s - you're going to find similar issues with ~95% of all 70s films especially those based in NYC. It'd be more interesting to look at which films from that period don't have these issues.
    This is very true, yes.

    Hard to look at most films from that long ago with the eyes of today and not find something troublesome.

  7. #69857
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    Agreed; the problem isn't that Travis hates black men, it's that every black man in the film seems to at least hate him too, even when they're not straight-up threats to him or someone else (which some of them are as well), and every single one of them comes off as a thin, sterotypical abstraction, to the point that, like the article said, one of the African-American bit players in the film is literally credited as nothing more than "Angry Black Man".
    So your beef is that Travis Bickle doesn't have any black friends?

    Anyway, like I said, I do like Taxi Driver a lot, but, and it still feels as though there were some racial blindspots that Scorsese didn't realize that he had while directing it, and, just like L.A. Confidential, I can still love the film as a whole for its great aspects, while still acknowledge its racial depictions as troublesome.
    The article mirrors this viewpoint too --- that Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, and Robert DeNiro, artists of some calibre, managed to work on a movie over a period of years, live and breathe it, interact with it every damn day, and yet somehow believing they all missed an important aspect of it.

    Instead of saying, well, the representations in "Taxi Driver" are absolutely intentional, and interpreting them for what they are, given the time period in which the film was made and the place where it was set.

  8. #69858
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    Hard to look at most films from that long ago with the eyes of today and not find something troublesome.
    Animal House is a non-stop rapemobile.

  9. #69859
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Skitch (view post)
    Animal House is a non-stop rapemobile.
    Pretty much every teen comedy before the year 2010.

  10. #69860
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    I remember American Pie being okay in terms of sexual politics.

  11. #69861
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Dead & Messed Up (view post)
    I remember American Pie being okay in terms of sexual politics.
    Nadia is seen as a slut because Jim hides a camera in his room while she gets naked.

    His actions are seen as silly male hijinks.

  12. #69862
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    Nadia is seen as a slut because Jim hides a camera in his room while she gets naked.

    His actions are seen as silly male hijinks.
    Hah, there it is.

  13. #69863
    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    Also at the risk of sounding un-PC, the NYC of the 70s is like a different planet than the NYC of today.


    A couple of guys hanging on a street corner at night probably ARE pimps or drug dealers, black or not.
    That scene didn't take place on the street, though, it was inside the all-night diner, which makes them being stereotypical pimps all the more unnecessary.
    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    Could it simply just be hate for all people? Outside of the two females, does he admire/trust anyone else without sarcasm?
    I would say that he obviously respects Wizard, based off of this scene:





    Quote Quoting Yxklyx (view post)
    This movie is from the 70s - you're going to find similar issues with ~95% of all 70s films especially those based in NYC. It'd be more interesting to look at which films from that period don't have these issues.
    I'm all for taking a more glass half-full stance, and singling out movies for praise from decades past because they were relatively progressive and ahead of their time's politics, like, say, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? supporting inter-racial marriage at a time when it was still straight-up illegal in multiple states, but there's also equal value in acknowledging the problematic aspects of older films and explaining exactly why they're problematic, especially when they're aspects of highly-acclaimed films that have avoided legit criticism for decades, and dismissing those aspects as not worth discussing simply because they're from "a different time" is a non-starter for a productive discourse. Ashley Clark wasn't sniping at an obvious fish-in-a-barrel target with some "OMG Birth Of A Nation is the most racist movie evah!1"-style clickbait, and the troubling racial dynamics in Taxi Driver is a subject that, not only have I not seen any other writer tackle as well as the writer of that article did, but just tackle it at all, so as far as I'm concerned, that more than justifies writing an article about it, especially if it's a well-written one (which I felt that her's was, since it genuinely helped me look at that aspect of the film in a whole new light).
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 09-03-2020 at 08:29 AM.

  14. #69864
    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    So your beef is that Travis Bickle doesn't have any black friends?


    The article mirrors this viewpoint too --- that Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, and Robert DeNiro, artists of some calibre, managed to work on a movie over a period of years, live and breathe it, interact with it every damn day, and yet somehow believing they all missed an important aspect of it.


    Instead of saying, well, the representations in "Taxi Driver" are absolutely intentional, and interpreting them for what they are, given the time period in which the film was made and the place where it was set.
    No; like I said, rectifying the racial dynamics in Taxi Driver could've been (partly) accomplished by something as simple as changing the clothing/demeanor of those two men in the diner, not to be explicitly "friendly" to Travis on a personal level, but merely to render them everyday, normal guys, without the pimp-tastic clothing or mean-mugging stares. But, in addition to looking like racial cariactures in the first place, like pretty much every other black man in the film, they're also portrayed as being angry and/or potential threating to Travis or someone else, which is the fundamental problem with that aspect of Driver.

    And of course Scorsese, Schrader, and DeNiro are all great artists, but that doesn't disprove my point about them having a collective blindspot about this aspect of the film, especially not when you consider, if they were intentionally just reflecting the racial tensions of that time/place in general, then why on earth would they have Peter Boyle use a anti-black slur when describing Harlem, and then not have Charlie, the black cabbie sitting right next to him, say or do literally anything in response to this provocation? Based off the final product, it's not at all a stretch to think that it's possible that three white men could've accidentally failed to look at things from the other end of the looking glass, and not considered how their portrayal of a historically marginalized group that none of them are a part of could've reinforced ages-old stereotypes about that group, because, great artists or not, they were still fundamentally flawed human beings at the end of the day, ones who, like everyone else, would have certain personal perceptions and biases based off of their backgrounds, and as shown in that article, I feel that that fact ultimately shine through this aspect of the film in the end, regardless of how good it is otherwise.
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 09-03-2020 at 09:18 AM.

  15. #69865
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    That scene didn't take place on the street, though, it was inside the all-night diner, which makes them being stereotypical pimps all the more unnecessary.I would say that he obviously respects Wizard, based off of this scene:


    Nice scene here. He does respect him in his best attempt at a cry for help in a way. Is that character ever shown again?

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  16. #69866
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    I would say that he obviously respects Wizard, based off of this scene:
    Wizard attempts to give him genuine advice, and Bickle immediately responds with, "That's about the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

    I wouldn't call that respect. Travis' demeanor (and DeNiro's physicality) changes when he wants something from somebody, and in this scene he wants Wizard to say the magic words, deliver a balm to his psyche, give him an out, solve his problems. He behaves the same way with Betsy and Iris, two other characters who don't immediately recognize him for what he is.

    (And here, specifically, Wizard somehow fails to see how absolutely strung out Travis looks.)

    Ashley Clark wasn't sniping at an obvious fish-in-a-barrel target with some "OMG Birth Of A Nation is the most racist movie evah!1"-style clickbait, and the troubling racial dynamics in Taxi Driver is a subject that, not only have I not seen any other writer tackle as well as the writer of that article did, but just tackle it at all, so as far as I'm concerned, that more than justifies writing an article about it, especially if it's a well-written one (which I felt that her's was, since it genuinely helped me look at that aspect of the film in a whole new light).
    There's been a lot written about the racial animus in "Taxi Driver." Clark isn't breaking new ground here, he's just giving old ground a fresh coat of 2020 paint.

    Btw, he's also a British dude from London (which sorta explains why he doesn't know shit about New York in the 1970s).

    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    No; like I said, rectifying the racial dynamics in Taxi Driver could've been (partly) accomplished by something as simple as changing the clothing/demeanor of those two men in the diner, not to be explicitly "friendly" to Travis on a personal level, but merely to render them everyday, normal guys, without the pimp-tastic clothing or mean-mugging stares.
    Which would completely destroy the film's vibe and the aesthetic Scorsese was going for.

    But, in addition to looking like racial cariactures in the first place, like pretty much every other black man in the film, they're also portrayed as being angry and/or potential threating to Travis or someone else, which is the fundamental problem with that aspect of Driver.


    ^ This is the scene, and it's straight up brilliant, mostly because it reinforces and highlights several of the film's themes and does it from a singular point of view. There's about 3 or 4 things going on here.

    But to your so-called "problematic" aspects: The images alone convey hostility between Travis and the black men --- you could watch without sound and pick that up --- but there's nothing in those images that codes the men as pimps or criminals.

    We're led to that conclusion through Travis' point of view, through the dialogue.

    And of course Scorsese, Schrader, and DeNiro are all great artists, but that doesn't disprove my point about them having a collective blindspot about this aspect of the film, especially not when you consider, if they were intentionally just reflecting the racial tensions of that time/place in general, then why on earth would they have Peter Boyle use a anti-black slur when describing Harlem, and then not have Charlie, the black cabbie sitting right next to him, say or do literally anything in response to this provocation? Based off the final product, it's not at all a stretch to think that it's possible that three white men could've accidentally failed to look at things from the other end of the looking glass, and not considered how their portrayal of a historically marginalized group that none of them are a part of could've reinforced ages-old stereotypes about that group, because, great artists or not, they were still fundamentally flawed human beings at the end of the day, ones who, like everyone else, would have certain personal perceptions and biases based off of their backgrounds, and as shown in that article, I feel that that fact ultimately shine through this aspect of the film in the end, regardless of how good it is otherwise.
    That they changed the script and cast white actors is black roles refutes the idea they had any such blind spots. They knew exactly what they were doing, and exactly how much racial friction they wanted in the film.

    ETA: Charlie barely acknowledges anyone's existence during that scene, outside of giving Travis a brief glance. Why would he say something over Wizard's bullshit? Have you ever been to New York? Walked in the streets? Heard people talk?
    Last edited by Irish; 09-03-2020 at 03:55 PM.

  17. #69867
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Love that you posted that scene. There's so much going on in it in terms of sound design, editing, the blocking.... The wide shot at the end that doesn't even show the pimps is interesting to me.

    I'm not really adding much to the conversation, just sharing that I love that scene.

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  18. #69868
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    the troubling racial dynamics in Taxi Driver is a subject that, not only have I not seen any other writer tackle as well as the writer of that article did, but just tackle it at all
    *Cough, cough*

    Quote Quoting Manny Farber and Patricia Patterson in 1976
    The movie relishes getting blacks off as malevolent debris that proliferates on the streets. Everywhere the cab moves there is a black marker representing the scummiest low point of city life. A muscular black walks through a barely noticing crowd on a narrow sidewalk; he's muttering loudly, "I'll kill her, I'll kill that bitch." A gang of black teenagers bursts out of an alley hurling garbage at Travis's Checker. Three little black kids torment a black whore, who, seeming used to such defiling, lashes back with her shoulder bag. There've been tons of media explication about the bigotry and sexism in Travis's head.

    The fact is that, unlike the unrelentingly presented worm in Dostoevski's Underground Man, this handsome hackie is set up as lean and independent, an appealing innocent. The extent of his sexism and racism is hedged. While Travis stares at a night world of black pimps and whores, all the racial slurs come from fellow whites. In fact, Travis tries to pick up a mulatto candy seller in an interesting porno-theater scene.
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  19. #69869
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Breakdown is great stuff. Super tense, well shot, well acted by all, with Russell giving one of his best performances.

    Everything was so good I am almost willing to overlook the mind numbing stupidity of him letting his smoking hot wife drive off with some random trucker in the middle of the desert.

    Hitchcock level suspense. Really well done.

  20. #69870
    Sunshine and peace Wryan's Avatar
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    --Homer

  21. #69871
    Jonathon Mostow could have been a superb genre filmmaker (Breakdown, U-571, and Terminator 3 are all very good, thankyouverymuch) but the under performance of latter basically knee-capped his career, Surrogates buried it, and The Hunter's Prayer.... well, I don't even Sam Worthington's family bothered to see that.
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  22. #69872
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    A couple of 1962 classics finally crossed off the list.

    Ivan's Childhood - This feels caught between two modes of depicting wartime reality and dipping in Tarkovsky's later free-floating, elliptical style, and IMO they don't complement each other that well. The kid is great though, and right off the bat Tarkovsky already composes some of the richest, most gorgeous imagery ever. 7.5/10

    Jules and Jim - Bubbly romanticism of the first half only makes the casual melancholy later on ring deeper. These three has lightning-in-a-bottle snapshot of joyful dynamics that can't sustain once war alters it permanently. Seeing them trying desperately to get that back, to more and more disastrous effects, is heartbreaking. Truffaut never alter his formal playfulness even in this thornier section, which makes the three's messy emotions all the more effective. 8.5/10
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  23. #69873
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Jonathon Mostow could have been a superb genre filmmaker (Breakdown, U-571, and Terminator 3 are all very good, thankyouverymuch) but the under performance of latter basically knee-capped his career, Surrogates buried it, and The Hunter's Prayer.... well, I don't even Sam Worthington's family bothered to see that.
    Yeah, Surrogates was awful.

    T3 gets a lot of hate (some of it deservedly so), but that crane chase is off the hook awesome. It also had the only ending that a Terminator series could ever really have.

    Have never seen U-571, because war films never appealed to me.

  24. #69874
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    I had a recurrent complaint throughout these movies where the characters have pointless lines of dialogue that explain what is already obvious (i.e., it starts raining, and the girl says, "it's raining!" Yeah, I could tell). Also a few too many screaming children for my taste, especially in My Neighbor Totoro.

    Still, there's some good stuff in there. Consistently good music and great animation. And how can you not love Spirited Away?

  25. #69875
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