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!

Shutter Island: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #36

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As Shutter Island has a huge twist at the end, there are spoilers in this review as indicated by bold warnings.

One of my favourite types of movies is those with a huge twist or something that makes the movie more interesting and fun to watch. From Se7en (check out my review for it here) to The Prestige, some great films have been made with twist endings. I recently watched Shutter Island with my uncle, not expecting much from it. By the end, I found myself in shock and awe over how brilliantly made this movie was.

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Sir Ben Kingsley is Shutter Island. US Marshal’s Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels and his Chuck Aule are travelling to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to investigate the peculiar disappearance of a patient, Rachel Solando. The pair investigates and interviews various people, only to learn that Solando’s doctor, Dr Sheehan, is away. During their investigation, Daniels reveals that his wife, Dolores Chanal, was killed by an arsonist, Andrew Laeddis. In a dream, Teddy sees a little girl and his wife Dolores, and she tells him that Solando is still on the island somewhere, as is Laeddis but the staff on the island claim he was never there. Soon, Solando resurfaces, prompting Teddy to break into Ward C, the most criminally insane of the patients to look for Andrew Laeddis. While investigating, Teddy meets George Noyce, who tells Teddy that everyone on Shutter Island, even his partner Chuck, is playing a game designed for him to solve. As the mystery deepens, it’s down to Teddy to find Andrew and uncover the true story about what is really happening on Shutter Island.

Leonardo DiCaprio played Teddy Daniels and, like most of DiCaprio’s performances, it was fantastic. His acting ability is on point, as his emotional complexity allows the viewer to know exactly how he is feeling and further engages the viewer with the film. DiCaprio made the film more enjoyable and interesting. Chuck Aule was played by Mark Ruffalo, who is a talented actor, but I find his acting very rigid and he doesn’t have much range. As an actor, he was great in Shutter Island but I couldn’t help but feel that someone else could have been better. Don’t get me wrong, he was fairly well suited to the role, but there were people who could’ve done better. I felt that as good as Ruffalo was in this film, but he was lacking in some areas that, if they were fulfilled, would have may have actually made the film better. Sir Ben Kingsley played Dr John Cawley, the overseer of the mental hospital. This was my first time seeing a film with Ben Kingsley in it and I was impressed by this acting skills. As Dr Cawley, Kingsley had the perfect tone of mysteriousness mixed in with a sense of sanity. It comes to make sense at the end of the film, which makes Kingsley’s acting choices even more commendable. He, much like DiCaprio, made the film more intriguing. Michelle Williams played Dolores Chanal, who did a great job playing the somewhat psychotic character. The character chemistry between Teddy and Chuck, and also Chuck and Dr Cawley was very well done. You must hand it to Ruffalo because though he may not have much range, he is able to act phenomenally with any other actor in any situation he’s put in.

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Dr Cawley and Teddy Daniels discuss Rachel’s mysterious disappearance.

⚠️Now scroll down to the next bold warning to continue reading my review. I am now going to discuss spoilers for Shutter Island. I highly recommend that you watch the film though, as it’s a truly amazing movie. You can watch it on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video.

The film is slow to start off with but then builds to something truly amazing at the end. Teddy is convinced Chuck has been taken to the lighthouse on the island and breaks in as an attempt to rescue him. There, Chuck and Dr Cawley await, ready to explain everything to Teddy. As he was told by George Noyce, it was all a big game played on Teddy.  Dr Cawley reveals that Edward Daniels is, in fact, Andrew Laeddis and that he killed his wife, Dolores Chanal. Rachel Solando is revealed to be Dolores Chanal, and the girl in his dream is his daughter. Rachel Solando was never real, it was just a nurse playing her. It is then revealed that the viewer that Andrew Laeddis came home from work to discover that Dolores has drowned their three children. In a scene superbly acted out by DiCaprio, Edward tries to rescue his children and breaks into tears. Dolores explains that they can take care of the children like dolls, but Teddy then shoots her. From here we can piece together some of the story. where insane Edward kills his wife, then is taken to Shutter Island and put in Ward C before creating the alternative personality of US Marshal Edward Daniels. Edwards Daniels is an anagram of his real name, Andrew Laeddis, and Rachel Solando is also an anagram of Dolores Chanal, Andrew’s wife. Dr Sheehan was actually Chuck this whole time too, explaining why Chuck was paired with Teddy in the first place. Mind blown.

It gets even better. If you rewatch the movie, or just pay very close attention to the movie, you will notice little details that show that somethings up, and this is mainly shown through the use of water. For example, there’s a scene where a woman being interviewed by Teddy is drinking a glass of water. We see this from Teddy’s point of view, but she does not have a glass in her hand. We then cut to an over the shoulder shot of the woman putting down a glass. Teddy has blocked out the water, as it is part of the reality he is trying to forget (Dolores drowned his children). Further, in the interview with the woman, she looks at Chuck when describing Mr Sheehan and looks awkwardly at Teddy when asked if she had ever met Andrew Laeddis. There’s even more, where any scene with water represents Andrew trying to escape his past, such as the boat trip to the island at the start of the movie. I’m pretty sure if you watch this film with the keenest eye, there will be the tiniest of details that Scorsese has snuck in.

⚠️We are out of spoiler territory. No more spoilers will be mentioned in this review.

Despite this movie being slow to start off with and a little dull in places, it was certainly worth the wait. The whole ending reveal is marvellous, mind-blowing and will leave any viewer in complete shock and awe. It must be handed to both director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese was able to bring together this fantastic story and portray it in a cinematic way that was an all-around great experience. DiCaprio was honestly one of the best parts of the film. Like most roles, he immersed himself in the character and gave a truly fantastic performance. Together, you have the awesomeness that is Shutter Island.

Overall, Shutter Island gets an 8.1/10 from me. It was a brilliant film which, though had me a little disinterested in places, left me in complete amazement over how crafty and smart this film was. I’d highly recommend that you watch this film. It’s currently available on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video. It makes for the perfect movie night in and will leave you wanting to rewatch it.

Thanks for reading this weeks review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures, sneak peaks and more! It’s the one source you need for all things movie related. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a horror movie review. Please note as  I’m headed to China for a week on Thursday, the reviews are likely to be out late. But I’m kind of facing my fear of horror movies to do this. See you soon!

Goodfellas: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #6

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will not spoil anything in the film but will refer to scenes. You can go ahead and read this and nothing would be spoilt when you watch Goodfellas, but it’d be better if you watched the film first then read my review.

Those who saw BBC’s latest TV hit, McMafia, know that it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into that life. I couldn’t help but think of a few films that I’d seen that reminded me of the series. Goodfellas instantaneously sprang to mind and I rewatched it. The Martin Scorsese film was as fantastic as it was the first time, but people that I’ve spoken to haven’t really heard about it. I’d like to shed some light on this brilliant blockbuster.

With Martin Scorsese as director and a cast including Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas is actually based on a true story. There was a Henry Hill who was part of the mafia. This was documented in Nicholas Pileggi’s book, ‘Wiseguys’. It was from this book at Scorsese followed the sequence to produce this film.

Martin Scorsese directed this true story crime drama and did it perfectly. One little fact that I love is that Scorsese brought Pileggi (author of ‘Wiseguys’) to do the screenplay with him. That was such a brilliant idea, as it allowed the film to be brought to life in the best way possible. The casting choices for Goodfellas were spot on, even down to the actors playing young Henry and Tommy, there’s nothing I’d change there either. It’s rare that I say this about a movie, but all three main characters (Henry, Jimmy and Tommy) were all perfectly portrayed and I could find no fault with them. Ray Liotta played our protagonist, Henry Hill. No one could have done a better job than Liotta. He was well-suited to a gangster who had been with the mob all his life. Liotta brought a sense of innocence yet awesomeness to Henry Hill’s character which was great for the film. Robert De Niro played Jimmy Conway, a long time member of the mafia. I loved De Niro as Jimmy as he presented Jimmy as a force to be reckoned with and having a strong presence. No one else could have done this the way De Niro did, and it made the film more enjoyable to watch. Finally, Tommy was played by Joe Pesci. Though Tommy in real life was actually 6’2, Pesci’s portrayal seems more comedic and somewhat Napoleonic. The infamous ‘you think I’m funny?’ scene highlights how the world of the mafia is full of uncertainty and Pesci did this scene, and many others, so superbly. Paul Sorvino played Paul ‘Paulie’ Cicero, the head of the mob. He was like Jimmy where he was a force to be reckoned with and a man of high power and status. Sorvino was the right choice as he gave Cicero a sense of massiveness. Henry’s wife, Karen Hill, was played by Lorraine Bracco. Bracco had the perfect accent for Karen and the on-screen chemistry between Karen and Henry was fantastic. Liotta and Bracco executed the ups and downs of the relationship wonderfully. On that note actually, the relationship between Henry and each of the aforementioned mob characters was amazing, so well done to Ray Liotta on that front.

I can’t really remember much of the songs in the film, but I can recall scenes of when it was used. The music was good, especially as whenever something big and bad was happening, the music accompanying the scene would usually be quite calm and jolly. The music playing during the ‘Sunday 11th May’ act was perfectly suited and the scene itself was gripping. The best example of music in Goodfellas for me was the bodies being discovered montage with ‘Layla’ playing in the back. For me, this was one of the most memorable scenes.

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‘You know, we always called each other Goodfellas. Like you’d say to somebody: You’re gonna like this guy, he’s all right. He’s a goodfella. He’s one of us.’

Following from that, there are a few amazing scenes from Goodfellas that make it so fantastic. These may relate to spoilers, so you have been warned! Firstly, the opening was incredible. It was powerful and immediately set the tone of the movie. The scene with the letter from school and the postman was interesting to watch, popped out of nowhere and showed how mafia sucked Henry in. I liked the wedding scene with the Petey’s, Paulie’s and Marie’s as it gave a bit of humour as a break from the film. As mentioned earlier, the ‘you think I’m funny?’ moment from Tommy shows how your life in the mafia can be over in a matter of seconds (that’s not a spoiler, don’t worry). The clip from prison shows how the mafia are so notorious and have power no matter where they are or who they’re dealing with, and it was somewhat enjoyable to watch. One of the best scenes to watch for me was the Christmas scene at the bar with everyone spending, it was good fun to watch. To say the least, the Morrie story was quite dark and a little twisted in my opinion. However, this was not as twisted as what I’ll call the ‘Layla montage’. It was an amazing montage that was quite gory and twisted but yet so thrilling and enjoyable to watch. There are quite a few superb scenes in Goodfellas, but do yourself a favour and go watch it, for it is truly spectacular!

The story was great. I love any film that is based on a true story because it’s so intriguing to see how a director and actors will present it to the audience. Scorsese did an excellent job with Goodfellas, but I did personally find it a little slow moving in a couple places. This was because I found that it would make a point, give an example of it, but make too much of an example out of it. That being said, Goodfellas doesn’t lack in any other areas. It’s one of the best mafia movies I’ve seen and, as a fan of goriness and violence in movies, it was highly entertaining.

Goodfellas receives 8.8/10 from me. From all the goriness to the incredible characters, and the fact that it is based on a true story, I urge you to watch this film and I believe it’s Scorsese’s best film. Not only is it full of twists every now and again, but it gives a real insight into the life of the mafia family and how easy it is to get sucked in and how hard it is to get out. It’s available on Amazon Prime movies, and definitely worth the watch!

Thanks for reading week 6 of Ryan’s Movie Reviews. Follow me on WordPress, Instagram (@ryans.movies.reviews) and Twitter (@RyansMovieRevi1) to be the first to read my reviews, but I’ll also be retweeting and tweeting movie news and opinions on the Twitter, so be sure to follow it! Also, comment what you think I should review next and let me know what you thought of the BAFTA awards, Three Billboards did fantastically!

I’ll see you next Tuesday for when I review a Christopher Nolan movie. See you then!