Taxi Driver: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #53

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes.

You may remember that earlier in the year in my review of Whiplash I said that I’d try to watch 52 of IMDb’s Top 250 movies that I hadn’t seen. Since then, I’ve watched some, like American Beauty and Prisoners, but haven’t fully tackled the list. I recently watched Taxi Driver, the 1976 classic from Martin Scorsese. I fell in love with the film, admiring it for being one of Scorsese’s earliest films in his career that was so beautifully made. I just had to review Taxi Driver, making it this week’s review.

Starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Cybil Shepherd and directed by Martin Scorsese is Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle is lonely, living in New York as an honourably discharged Marine. He takes a night job as a taxi driver but slips into insomnia, and his shift becomes a round the clock job. Travis eventually dreams of cleaning up the city by ridding of its filth. As Travis explores more of the city, he meets Betsy, an attractive political worker and becomes committed to saving the world by plotting to assassinate Charles Palantine, a presidential candidate, before attempting to rescue Iris, a 12-year-old prostitute and saving the day in his eyes.

If you search up Robert De Niro on IMDb or Google, you’ll see that Taxi Driver is one of his most notorious roles. After watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. De Niro’s role of Travis was something that he clearly immersed himself in, and he had such a strong character presence that it is widely considered to be a role that fully cemented De Niro as one of the greats, particularly as the film was released after De Niro’s Oscar success in 1974 for The Godfather Part II. Taxi Driver further demonstrates De Niro’s exceptional acting ability and his character development throughout the film allows the viewer to build a bond with Travis and stay hooked on what is an already brilliant film. Taxi Driver also stars 14-year-old Jodie Foster as Iris, a 12-year-old child prostitute. For such a young actress at the time, Foster’s performance was incredible as she was able to bring great range to Iris’ character. I would have liked to have seen more of Iris in the film, but that didn’t bother me too much. Cybil Shepherd plays Betsy, an attractive political worker who Travis becomes infatuated with. Admittedly, I didn’t like Betsy’s character too much, Shepherd was well cast as Betsy, but I felt she lacked a little something, that I can’t quite exactly put my finger on. Harvey Keitel played Matthew/”Sport”, a pimp who ran the prostitution service that Iris worked for. Matthew was an interesting character, and I liked how he was played by an actor as fantastic as Keitel, but I would’ve loved to have seen more of his character in the film.

The music from Bernard Herrmann was wonderfully orchestrated and suited the film’s tone well. The main theme for Taxi Driver was slightly overplayed in the film but it may be one of the greatest movie themes ever in my opinion. The theme is one of the most powerful themes in a movie as it has a dark undertone that is accompanied by the merrier, lighter side with the saxophone from Tom Scott. The deeper ‘dark’ undertones represent the scum Travis sees over New York while the lighter parts from the saxophone represent the better sides of society to Travis, like how he views Betsy.

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The infamous ‘You talking to me?’ scene.

The storyline and plot were quite unexpected and while the film was certainly ahead of its time, it did seem rather random for Travis to want to kill Palantine. However, after reflecting on the film, it makes sense as Travis could be jealous of Palantine, or have opposing political views to him. Additionally, Scorsese is notorious for ambiguous endings in his films, so this would just be part of his directorial trademark.

Now for my favourite moments. The opening with Herrmann’s brilliant main theme sets up an interesting premise, particularly with the use of darkness with only the use of traffic lights to illuminate faces and places creating an intriguing atmosphere about what the film could be about. I liked the scene with the passenger and a prostitute, with the passenger asking Travis to hurry up, and Travis having to clean blood and semen off his seats as this emphasises Travis’ want to clean up the scum around him and allows the viewer to sympathise with our protagonist. This is subtly supported by another scene which I enjoyed more over time, which is where Iris enters Travis’ cab, trying to escape Matthew. Matthew quickly intervenes and captures Iris before handing Travis a crumpled $20 bill, that acts as a reminder to Travis of the filth surrounding him. The training montage of Travis preparing to kill Palantine was something enjoyable and somewhat exciting to watch as it shows how prepared Travis is to do what he feels so strongly about in. In this montage is one of my favourite movie scenes of all time. The infamous ‘you talking to me’ scene. Here, De Niro shows off his phenomenal acting ability, delivering one of the most memorable monologues in movie history. The assassination attempt on Palantine was brilliantly done. We see a new side of Travis here with his mohawk and fully turned to his idea of cleaning up the filth. It was a great scene to watch and the twist of Travis being unable to carry out the assassination. The sequence of Travis going to rescue Iris was one of my favourite parts as it shows Travis still committed to cleaning the scum and saving the day. This brought out a violent side of the film which was great to see and was a good payoff for what the film was trying to show throughout. The ending was so awesome to watch as it was left somewhat open. We see Travis complete a taxi job for Betsy, driving away after giving her a free ride. He drives off and we see his eyes in the reflection of the rear-view mirror and Travis notices something that agitates him. The film ends here, leaving open to interpretation of what happens next. What was in the mirror? Is Travis about to get killed? Is Travis about to go on a rampage?

Taxi Driver is one of my favourite movies and gets an 8.5/10 from me. It had superb acting and a different story that was new and enjoyable to watch. Robert De Niro helps this film to shine and as a result, Travis Bickle earns a spot on my favourite characters list.

Thanks for reading this review. Join me in a few weeks time for the review of a movie about Hollywood in 1969, and I’ll also be reviewing a sitcom about a school soon too!  See you then!

Bohemian Rhapsody: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #50

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

As the 91st Academy Awards approach, other award events take place where the films that critics loved the most shine, get nominated for and maybe even win some of the most prestigious awards in Hollywood. Of the movies nominated for this year’s Best Picture Oscar (Black Panther, Blackkklansman, Roma, Green Book, Vice, A Star is Born, The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody), it’s difficult to predict which will win. I’d wanted to watch Bohemian Rhapsody ever since the first trailer came out. I got the chance to watch it recently, so here is my review of Bohemian Rhapsody

Directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher, and starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton and Ben Hardy, Bohemian Rhapsody tells the life story of Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. The film follows his youth and how he joined Queen, and the making of everyone’s favourite Queen hits. We see Freddie Mercury grow and develop throughout the film, defying stereotypes, making and breaking friendships and becoming the man who has become a global cultural icon.

If you’ve been following the 2019 Awards Season, you’ll have seen that Rami Malek has won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA (and more!) and has been nominated for an Oscar. Malek expertly played Freddie Mercury. As an American, I wasn’t expecting too much from his work, but I was so wrong! His performance was brilliantly delivered and Malek honestly deserved to win all the awards he has received so far. He fully immersed himself in the role of Mercury and it certainly paid off. There’s a pretty big chance that Malek will win the Oscar for Best Actor, and he has proved himself more than worthy of it. Only time will tell! Gwilym Lee played Queen’s lead guitarist, Brian May. Lee’s resemblance to a young Brian May was uncanny, and it made the film more enjoyable as it felt more realistic. Lee delivered a fantastic performance and was a perfect fit for the role of Brian May. Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor, was played by Ben Hardy. Hardy looked like a young Roger Taylor and he was great for the role. Hardy’s performance was well executed and good for Roger’s character but I felt that he didn’t really convey much emotion. He seemed quite angry and depressed for most of the film, and maybe that’s how Roger Taylor was during his time with Queen, but there could have been more range from his performance. The last member of Queen was John Deacon, who was the bassist. Joseph Mazzello took on the role of Deacon, and he was good for the role. I personally would have liked to have seen more from Deacon’s character, or him having more memorable moments in the film. I can only recall one standout scene of Deacon which was how ‘Another Bites the Dust’ came about. One of the other main characters and Freddie Mercury’s love interests was Mary Austin, played brilliantly by Lucy Boynton. Boynton was well suited to the role and played the character with good range and ability. The chemistry between each character was so fantastically acted out by every actor that it really helped me to enjoy the movie more.

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Queen records the operatic section of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Because the music was all from Queen, I had no issues here. It was so cool to see how it came together, like how ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ came together by John Deacon while Freddie and Roger were in an argument or the way ‘We Will Rock You’ got its foot-stomping beat. As a huge fan of old music, the music in Bohemian Rhapsody was impeccable.

Bohemian Rhapsody was one of those movies where I want to watch it again and again because it was that good. The more I think of it, the better it was. Admittedly, I felt the film was lacking some flow throughout between one scene and another. I also felt that the film was rather uninteresting in places. Truth be told, I eventually found myself just waiting for the next Queen song to come up. One of the things that kept the film together was Rami Malek’s performance of Freddie Mercury which was so incredible that it really made the film so entertaining and better to watch. Another factor that kept the film together well was the character chemistry. It was convincing and gave a good depiction of how Queen’s band members and the people in their lives interacted with each other.

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Queen rehearsing ‘Another One Bites the Dust’

Now for my favourite moments from Bohemian Rhapsody. I loved the opening to this film, and it required no exposition to establish where the story would go. It summed up Freddie’s lifestyle and told the audience that the film would end up at the Live Aid 1985 Concert. I like how the film also wasted little time in showing us how Freddie met Roger and Brian after their lead singer from their previous band, Smile, left them, even if it did fall down the exposition hole. We then see the band make new songs, then clash with either each other or other figures, like Ray Foster. The making of the songs was great fun to watch. The way the film showed how ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was made and how the band fought to have it on the airways was fantastic to see brought to life, and it showed that the hard work had paid off. Another favourite was ‘We Will Rock You’, as it was awesome to see how Brian May thought of it and how one of Queen’s most notorious hits came about. The last song that I enjoyed watching come to life was ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, as it was John Deacon’s idea and his bass that was the skeleton of what was to become another amazing Queen song. The film dies off for a bit when Freddie moves away, but the energy is revived when he returns to London to unite with his bandmates and they prepare for Live Aid 1985. The scene of Freddie admitting that he has AIDS to his band was sweet and touching, but it was the Live Aid performance that was arguably the best scene in the movie. It depicted an iconic performance from Queen, complete with amazing songs and Freddie Mercury’s unforgettable ‘Ay-Oh’ crowd interaction moment. The film ends with ‘Don’t Stop Me’ and a summary of events after Live Aid, with a nod to Freddie Mercury and all the incredible work he contributed to the music industry.

Overall, I really loved Bohemian Rhapsody, and I give it an 8.2/10. It’s not the best movie ever made, but it is really really enjoyable to watch. It doesn’t matter if you love Queen’s music or not, Bohemian Rhapsody will have you singing along throughout and the songs will be stuck in your head for weeks on end. Bohemian Rhapsody is up for 5 Oscars this weekend (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing). It’s currently available for download on the iTunes store and Sky Movies Store, but should be added to some streaming services by the end of the year.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. The Oscars this weekend are shaping up to be a good one, with many stars hosting, the remaining members of Queen performing and loads of brilliant movies and actors and directors having the honour of being nominated and all gunning for Hollywood’s most prestigious award, an Academy Award. Join me next week for a superhero film that is one of my all-time favourites. See you then!

Die Hard: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #42

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

There are some age-old questions in life. Is there a God? Do aliens exist? What is the meaning of life? Then in 1988, John McTiernan created another that would divide humanity; is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie? Seeing as we are in the festive season, I decided to answer this question and review Die Hard.

Directed by John McTiernan and starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman is the notorious movie, Die Hard. New York cop John McClane travels to Los Angeles to reconcile with his wife at the Christmas party, held at the Nakatomi Plaza. The party is disrupted by German terrorist Hans Gruber and his crew who are holding the guest’s hostage. It’s now down to McClane to save the hostages and defeat Hans Gruber.

John McClane was played by Bruce Willis and, though I’m not the biggest Bruce Willis fan, he was awesome in Die Hard. His character was witty and fun and smart and Willis immersed himself in this role so much so that John McClane is one of the most notorious characters in cinema history. Similarly, Hans Gruber is one of cinema’s greatest villains who was brilliantly played by Alan Rickman brilliantly. Despite the odd “German” accent, Rickman was the perfect choice for Hans Gruber. Rickman demonstrates his phenomenal acting ability in Die Hard and makes the film so much more enjoyable. Holly Gennaro, John’s wife, was played by Bonnie Bedelia and I liked her character. I felt that there could have been a bit more from her but generally, her role in the film was good. Sergeant Al Powell, played by Reginald VelJohnson and he did a great job of playing the character, and the amount of screen time he had was perfect. There was also Harry Ellis, played by Hart Bochner, who is killed by Gruber. Though he was an unlikeable character, Bochner’s acting was commendable and he did a good job playing Ellis. Along with Hans Gruber, my other favourite character in Die Hard was Argyle, played fantastically by De’voreaux White. He was funny and an interesting character that made the film more enjoyable. One of Hans’ crew was Karl, a tough German hitman, played by Alexander Godunov. Godunov was amazing in this role and really made the film more fun to watch.

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Hans Gruber talks to John McClane over walkie-talkie .

The plot is pretty straightforward, but once the action is added into the film, you have more of a movie. The action was beautifully executed, and there were so many awesome scenes that were amazing to watch in the film. Admittedly, my favourite stunt scene was when James and Alexander were killed by McClane with the C4 attached to the office chair. It was a smart idea that was great fun to watch.

Die Hard has become one of those iconic movies like The Shining, where it gets spoofed and imitated regularly by other movies and TV shows. It’s because McTiernan took the film to new heights (both figuratively and literally) and brought something both entertaining and awesome to movie screens everywhere in 1988. As the film’s tagline says, it’s 40 stories of sheer adventure, and the film delivered on this. It’s also because of the incredible acting from Willis and Rickman, combined with great dialogue from the novel’s writer, Roderick Thorp, and screenplay writers, Jeb Stuart and Steven de Souza, that makes the film more epic and memorable. As mentioned earlier, John McClane and Hans Gruber are some of the most notable names in cinema, and this is because of how brilliant Die Hard was. It’s no wonder that the film was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry, as it is a defining and iconic movie that will stand the test of time and be lived for generations to come.

To answer the age-old question, of course Die Hard is a Christmas movie! It’s set at Christmas, has Christmas music, and basically is an adult’s version of Home Alone. Why shouldn’t it be? Despite Bruce Willis claiming that it isn’t, Die Hard is loved by many and enjoyed over the festive period.

Overall, Die Hard was a fantastic film that I loved watching. I give it an 7.9/10.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Also, follow my blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow @Ryans.Movie.Reviews on Instagram to have your say on what Christmas film I review for next week. See you then!

 

The Shining: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #37

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

Seeing as it’s Halloween soon, I thought I’d review a horror movie. If you know me in real life, you’ll know I hate horror movies. I don’t see the point. Why pay money to be scared? When it comes to horror movies, I’m out. However, there’s no point reviewing movies if you avoid one genre. So I put my hate of horror aside and watched one of the most notorious and classic horror movies, The Shining. Here is my review of it.

Based on Stephen King’s novel and from director Stanley Kubrick is The Shining. Writer Jack Torrance becomes a winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in an attempt to get over his writer’s block and moves in with his family. There, his son, Danny experiences demonic visions. While Jack’s still stuck in writer’s block, Danny’s visions only become more disturbing. Jack begins to explore the hotel and uncovers more of its dark secrets, causing him to go down the path of insanity and leading him to terrorise his family.

Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance, the normal-turned-psychotic author. The Shining is easily Nicholson’s famous role. His acting in this film was brilliant, as you can see the slight but eventual slip into insanity. Nicholson captures the true essence of a disturbed, murderous man and his portrayal of this is not only iconic but also what makes The Shining so good. Danny Lloyd played Danny Torrance, Jack’s son who experiences the telepathic ability of ‘shining’, where someone who can shine is able to telepathically communicate with others and also see into the past and future. Danny Lloyd played Danny when he was six/seven years old, and for such a young actor performing in this role, he did such a brilliant and commendable job. Lloyd made the film more engaging and allowed the viewer to connect with his character, experiencing fear and horror just as he did. Shelley Duvall played Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife. Wendy experiences her husbands slip into insanity first hand and the way Duvall depicts this on the big screen is wonderfully done. I felt her performance was lacking in a few areas, but generally, I liked what she did with Wendy’s character.

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Another classic scene from cinematic history, the Grady twins in the hotel corridor.

The music was absolutely brilliant. It was hauntingly beautiful and chilling, adding to the eerieness of the movie. The best scene for music is when Jack escapes from the pantry and hacking his way through the hotel on a murderous rampage against his family. The music is at a spine-chilling theme which is almost in sync with your heart rate and BAM! Jack bursts through the bathroom door in the iconic ‘Here’s Johnny!’ scene. True movie magic from a brilliant actor.

The Shining has become one of the most iconic movies of all time. It’s because it takes something so simple and does rely on an ancient backstory of some sort to create a story. All you need is a family, a hotel, winter and just a brief summary of the ability to shine. From there, just have some brilliant acting, some surprising twists and turns and create an atmosphere that leaves people on the edge of their seats and that’s how you make a great horror movie. The Shining has all of this but was one of the first horror movies that actually earned a name for itself. From the bloody elevator to Room 237, not forgetting the twins, The Shining uses chilling music combined with an uneasy silence to scare viewers in a way that is unforgettable and sticks with them for life.

For someone who’s a hater of horror movies, The Shining was a good film and gets an 8.2/10 from me. It doesn’t play into the typical field of having killer clowns and creepy toys with jump scares to frighten the audience. It’s a psychological horror, that constantly plays with your mind through music and the uncertainty of what could happen next.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Self-five to me for getting through a horror movie! (🙏🏽) Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes and more! Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews!

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m in China for the next eight days on a school trip so there won’t be a review next week. But join me in two weeks time when I review a movie related to China somehow. Zai Jian!