“Film lovers are sick people.”
Here we are again with part four of our films that we love, and perhaps even adore, that we feel should make the jump over to the Criterion Collection, if, for no other reason, just to make ourselves a little happier. Or maybe we just want to talk about them because we like them. Or because we’re sick, sick people…
August Bravo: Taxi Driver, 1976, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Travis Bickle is probably one of the most astonishing film characters in the history of movies. Martin Scorsese directed this palme d’Or winning masterpiece. The first time I watched it, I really didn’t care too much for it. It wasn’t until I felt lonely and full of despair that it made a lot of sense. What drives a man to do what he does? One of the most deperessing movie’s I’ve ever seen, maybe. How can a man just slip through the cracks so easily? And how could Scorsese potray it so damn well? Travis seemed like a simple guy, but he’s just disgusted. Disgusted with all the scum and trash that fill the city. With himself as well, maybe? A man so devoid of attention he resorts to talking to himself in the mirror in probably one of the most memorable scenes in film history.
What spirals this movie into a need for Criterion fame is his desolation. I think that’s what really drives him mad, and what drives him do after going mad. It’s a haunting image to see Robert DeNiro sitting there towards the end after his attempt to rescue child prostitute Jodie Foster, blood everywhere, holding a makeshift gun to his head just wanting to pull the trigger. By far the best line from the movie: “Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…”
Marco Sparks: I’m ecstatic that you picked this movie, which as distasteful as it can be, is a true American classic, and not something like… I don’t know… Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, which people are always trying to tell me is a “classic.” Scorcese has a winning formula here and I feel like he basically remade it in 1983 with The King Of Comedy, a film that I like a hell of a lot more.
For my pick today I am going to happily suggest: Chinatown, 1974, directed by Roman Polanski.
This is another movie that I’m almost afraid to start talking about for fear of talking way too much about it. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then I have to assume that you’re still a toddler. But unless you’re a blind toddler, or in a coma, then you need to be seeing it. If you’re an adult or near the age of making adult mistakes and you haven’t seen this yet, then… put simply, you don’t deserve cinema.
“My sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter!”
Polanski, despite what anyone may think of him personally, is a master filmmaker, and he’s particularly good with one single element of life: That sense that something is off and just not quite right. Sometimes it’s paranoia, and suspicion of one’s surroundings, but that’s if you’re lucky to nail the feelings his films inhabit so perfectly down into words. Repulsion had it, as did Knife In The Water. The Tenant had it, and of course Rosemary’s Baby had it, as did Death And The Maiden to a fair degree. Hell, his pure amazing shlock demonic thriller The Ninth Gate had it in perfect, crazy overabundance. It worked perfectly in all those films and especially here in this neo-noir masterpiece.
The film, with it’s brilliant script by the always excellent Robert Towne, was based on the real life water wars in California, but is so twisted and wonderful and captures that perfect essence of feeling like it could be a true story word for word.
And do I even need to go into how perfect Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are in this film? Not to mention John Huston. This film, which was to be originally titled “Water World” is a rare, amazing example in Hollywood of everything going perfectly right and the end result is scary brilliant. The sequel, The Two Jakes, directed by Jack Nicholson himself, isn’t too shabby either, but it’s a sequel to one of the best films ever produced in this country, so there’s no way it could’ve gotten close to the original.
If you truly have never seen this, then part of me wants to show up at your house with this and maybe a bottle of wine. In fact, let’s do that. I’ll be over next week sometime. Which goes better with popcorn, white wine or red?
Personally, I love that August picked a movie about how fucked up New York is and that I followed up with a film that says essentially a lot of the same things about Los Angeles. I’d love to counter that with something sweet and sentimental about either town or tell you that no matter where you live, home is where the heart is, but let’s face it, you’re just going to get your heart broken no matter where you go. So instead I’ll just say… We’ll see you next time.