Sunday, March 04, 2007

Raves

I do enough ranting on this blog, so here are some raves.

I watched Taxi Driver this weekend and was left wondering why the hell I waited so long to see it. The movie was gritty and raw, and I can't think of any movie that I've seen that is a better character study that this one. Released in 1976, it was nominated for and/or won several awards, most notably the Golden Palm at Cannes and Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Score. Travis Bickle, played without flaw by Robert DeNiro, is a cab driver disgusted by his surroundings. Throughout the whole movie, Travis moves closer and closer to the edge of sanity. We get glimpses into his past; all the straws that are piling up on the camel's back, but we are never told the whole story. He tells Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) that she's just like all the others when she refuses to see him again after an ill-advised second date at a porn house, but we don't know what what "the others" did to hurt Travis. He writes to his parents that he still can't give them his address, but we don't know how long Travis has been living in his filthy closed-sized apartment, hiding from the world with only his delusions that he works for the government and that he alone has the power to clean up the streets and right all of society's wrongs to keep him company.

"Now I see this clearly. My whole life is pointed in one direction. There never has been a choice for me."

The viewer can feel Travis's discomfort and angst, which is a direct result of Scorsese's masterful directing and DeNiro's brilliant performance. The tension builds and builds until one hot summer night when Travis can't take it any longer. The ending is ambiguous enough that a first-time viewer like myself can't be sure if it's real or a fantasy, although I'm sure there are many who are more well-versed who have their theories and opinions. Also worth mentioning are excellent performances by Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, and surprisingly, Jodie Foster, whom I have always considered to be wooden.


Another good movie I saw recently was Sherrybaby. This movie is the story of Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young woman who is trying to get her life back on track upon being released from prison after serving three years. I admire Gyllenhaal because she's willing to take on roles that aren't going to launch her into "superstardom," i.e. playing the lead in a formulaic romantic comedy like Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. Sherry teeters between going back to her former life and trying to live as a decent member of society. Her journey finds her reuniting with her daughter; relapsing; mouthing off to her parole officer; using sex to overcome low self-esteem; and dealing with a cast of characters including her sexually abusive father, an aggressive tenant at her halfway house, and the manipulative director of her program. We watch her try to move from a life of instant gratification, whether it be shooting up or offering sexual favors in exchange for a job, to a more adult life where it takes time for things to fall into place. This movie can at times be uncomfortable, but so is life.


Finally, I leave you with a video that Chris sent me of Ricky Gervais interviewing Larry David. I'm surprised the universe didn't implode with two comedic geniuses in one room.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Karen said...

We just got "Sherrybaby" from Netflix last weekend and really liked it. I agree with the squirm factor, but everything about it was very real.

Also we saw "Taxi Driver" for the first time last year. We both thought the other had already seen it. D'oh! Anyway, loved that too. Scorsese should've won his Oscar 33 years ago...although I liked The Departed too.

3/05/2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger March to the Sea said...

I only saw Taxi Driver 2-3 years ago myself. I tried watching it once and was kinda ehh on it..so I actually stopped it. Then I rented it again and really REALLY liked it. Not sure what my issue was the first time around??!

3/05/2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

To answer your question, no he never called yesterday or last night. That's why I'm all annoyed.

Love Larry David by the way. Curb Your Enthusiasm was the best, I can't remember are they bringing it back or what??

3/05/2007 6:09 PM  
Blogger Annoyed said...

Have you seen "Raging Bull?"

It's a toss up for me which is Deniro's better perfomance.

As far as filmmaking goes "Raging Bull" is one of the top 5 films ever made, imo.

Direction, Script, Camera work, acting.

Flawless.

It finished second behing "citizen cane" in the "directors poll of best ever films a few years back.

Also, there's been rumbings of a "Taxi Driver" sequel for a few years now

3/08/2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger Jenny G said...

Karen - I'm definitely going to see some more Scorsese and DeNiro films now.

March - I could see how you would need to be in the right mood.

Caroline - That's rude! Yes, there's going to be a season 6. We don't get HBO so I'll have to wait till it comes out on DVD.

Annoyed - No, I haven't, but it's going on my queue. I'm not too sure how I feel about a sequel...

3/09/2007 2:31 PM  
Blogger Annoyed said...

If you want some more Deniro/Scorsese films...

1. Raging Bull
2. Mean Streets
3. King of Comedy
4. Casino
5. Cape Fear

I assume you've seen Goodfellas and obviously you've seen Taxi Driver.

Scorsese without Bob?

1. After Hours
2. New York Stories
3. Bringing Out the Dead

"New York Stories" is a collection of three different short films by Coppola, Woody Allen, and Scorsese.

Coppola's and Allen's are pretty bad but Scorsese's "Life Lessons" is one of my all time favorite things he's done.

"Bringing Out the Dead" will be a love it or hate it thing. I love it! I'm a HUGE fan of Nicolas Cage and he's great in that.

When i was in film school I ate, drank and slept Scorsese and Woody Allen. My father thinks it was money well spent ;-)

3/09/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Jenny G said...

I haven't seen Goodfellas, but it's on my queue and I saw the old Cape Fear, but not the new one, which is also on my queue. I saw New York Stories but I don't remember too much about Life Lessons. Woody Allen films are pretty much hit or miss with me. I had all the ones I hadn't seen yet on my queue at one point, but after a couple doozies I took them all off except Bullets Over Broadway, and that's just because Cusack is in it.

3/09/2007 7:35 PM  
Blogger Annoyed said...

Woody had a run of brillant films in the 70's and 80s... then became very hit or miss.

If you want to give him another look...

1. Hannah and Her Sisters
2. Annie Hall
3. Manhatten
4. Broadway Danny Rose
5. Crimes and Misdemenors
6. Match Point

Those are all wonderful, imo

If you like those their are a few more gems for sure.

But FIRST! Rent "Goodfellas" My absolute favorite Scorsese film! Not his "best" movie (That's "Raging Bull") but my favorite one for sure. Can't believe you've seen "new york, new york" I still can't bring myself to watch that one :-0

3/10/2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger Jenny G said...

Are you talking about Bullets Over Broadway? I haven't seen that one yet, but it's on my queue.

Of the ones you've listed I've seen Annie Hall; Crimes and Misdemeanors (my first Woody Allen film ever); Hannah, according to the list of movies I've rented, but reading over its IMDB page I don't remember it; and Broadway Danny Rose, but I also don't remember that one.

I've also seen Mighty Aphrodite.

3/10/2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger Annoyed said...

No, you mentioned "New York Stories" I thought I read "New York, New York" which is a Scorsese musical starring Deniro and Liza! It's the only film of his I've yet to watch and I'm in no hurry.

"Bullets Over Broadway" is great!

3/10/2007 4:53 PM  
Blogger Jenny G said...

Yikes! I think I'll be skipping that one.

3/10/2007 5:26 PM  

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