Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Taxicab (Driver) Confession


Now, I know what you're thinking and no, sorry, this is not going to be about me facilitating a back seat happy ending for someone who's hell bent on making a sticky job of some Gypsy's fine corinthian leather.

Well, not this particular post, anyway.

My Taxi Driver confession for you all is that until yesterday I'd never actually seen it. How can this be?  I hear you asking. Simple. My Mom told me not to.

Three other things my Mom told me not to do?

- "Don't chew Thrills Soap Gum - whores use it to keep their breath fresh." (And I loved the way she said HOOers, not Hores like we do today.)

- "Don't read Hemingway." (I forgive this one - Papa looked a lot like my Grandfather, who by all accounts was a saucemonster son-of-a-bitch, so I get it).

- "Don't read Beloved." (I was about 20 at the time and she wanted to spare me the harshness of it all. I in turn spared her the news that my new job at the pager company was to transcribe voice messages from horny travelling salesmen to text on their wives' pagers. If she only knew!)

My Mom was not square. She bought me lingerie when I was 16 because I was going to spend another summer in France and we both knew what would happen. She was a very cool lady. But she could not abide by hedonistic brutality and since sex isn't always pretty, this could be problematic for her. Bless her heart.

Okay, back to Taxi Driver. I was watching it as part of my ongoing search for quality cinema shot in places I love. And in taking it one step further, I'm systematically picturing Liev in remakes of classics. (Tune in on Tuesday for my Top Ten.)

So, as for the film itself, I can see why the hoopla. Adult content aside, it was groundbreaking in many ways. It's truly a character driven piece at a time when the French Connection was a hit that in reality has less vigor than any old random episode of NYPD Blue. FC is not one of my favourites despite how much I love and respect Gene Hackman. I'm prepared to go to the mat on this if anyone wants to try me. A porkpie hat and an automobile scale do not a story make.

Sorry, sorry, I keep getting off track tonight.

Okay, yes, Taxi Driver. I need someone to explain something to me: I don't get how killing the Mobster instantly took away all his problems. I mean, he shoots the guy in the bodega for practice and then he's off to assassinate Palantine and when that doesn't happen he's...what...  just gotta shoot someone? So he goes after Harvey Keitel... blows his load and now it's all good?  There was literally zero exposition on this character. We knew that 1) He was a Marine in Vietnam 2) He had "always been lonely" and 3) He had parents who he sent a card to in which he lied about his job. That's it.

Loved loved loved the look of lust in Betsy's eyes when she hops into his cab.  I understand her change of heart. He's a hero now. I'm just not sure how we got there.

The best my husband ('64) and me ('68) can figure is that perhaps there was so much awareness about the mental state of Vietnam Vets at the time - maybe the backstory is somewhat inferred? Was he full of PTSD and conflicted with guilt from all that turncoat "baby killing" press when all he was doing was serving his country? Was it that he needed to be referred to as a hero for everything to be okay again? Perhaps his admission to his friends about feeling conflicted and needing to "do something very bad..." was a given in those heightened circumstances? But was it so common that giving us a clue would have been overkill?

I'm not being facetious here - I really want to understand.

If anyone can shed some light on this I would really appreciate it. I wanted to ask you all before I go and see what Siskel & Ebert or Ernie & Bert or any other so-called experts have to say on the matter.

This is the first time our Netflix connection was less than stellar. Every few minutes the show would pause for ten seconds, giving us just enough frustration to constantly be re-evaluating whether or not we should bail. Totally flaky but we stuck it out.

I guess my Mom still doesn't think I'm ready for it.