In celebration of Joker hitting $1BN, I thought it’s only right to marvel…get it..(DC) at one of Mr. Scorsese’s classics, Taxi Driver. Taxi Driver was one of the main inspirations for Todd Philips’ creation of the critically acclaimed Joker.
Now bearing that in mind, I haven’t watched Joker yet – (what!?)
After binging on many reaction videos and tweets regarding the film, I think I’ll need to check myself in for rehab as I’m suffering from a case of ‘Jokerhypeitis’.
For those, like me, who haven’t watched Joker yet I would HIGHLY recommend to avoid scrolling to the comment section of reactions to the film on Youtube. Matter of fact, don’t watch any reactions or reviews, PERIOD.
Otherwise, you’ll end up sporting a fleece, cigarette in hand somberly telling a therapist ‘All I have, are spoiler thoughts’.
Similarly to Joker, 1976’s Taxi Driver is a character study that focuses on a central protagonist for the duration of the film, and it’s arguably one of cinema’s most iconic. Please welcome to the stage, Travis Bickle.
‘You talkin’ to me?’
In one of Robert De Niro’s best roles ever, he plays Travis, an isolated and depressed Vietnam veteran, who lives in New York City as a night shift taxi driver, observing the deterioration that has plagued the city.
I’m sure you can already picture the similarities to Gotham City.
The frosty treatment Travis receives during his encounters leads him further down the rabbit hole, pushing him to address matters into his own hands with potentially devastating consequences.
With that being said, Travis has an underlying desire to do what’s right, even though he fails to realise, his approach towards certain circumstances goes against societal norms.
From what I’ve heard (remember don’t look at the YouTube comments for those that haven’t seen Joker) there is a heavy emphasis more so on Taxi Driver, than The King Of Comedy. Apparently, it almost ‘copies’ Taxi Driver scene for scene, and that you could essentially drop Joker or Arthur Fleck, in that grimy world of 1976 New York.
Well, they do say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and with Taxi Driver being widely regarded as a classic film along with the high praise Joker’s received, it’s clear to see why Taxi Driver has been an integral influence during its production.
If you’ve seen Taxi Driver, you can pick out the references shown in the trailers. In particular, the scenes of Arthur holding the gun and sitting at the diner with Zazie Beetz. Very subtle, but cool references.
I think the reason why people are so compelled with ‘character study’ films is that we either see a little of ourselves in the lead character or are in ‘admiration’ of what they stand for. Even if it’s not morally right.
Think of all the hip hop references and pen pal letters written to the fictional character Tony Montana AKA Scarface, played by Al Pacino. Tony’s words are seen as gospel and the mantra of ‘Money, Power, and Women’ still rings clear in the ears of many rap artists.
Even with all his flaws, he does not go without his sticking to his moral principles or more to put more bluntly, sticking to his ‘balls’. None so more evident than in this scene.
It’s no surprise that these iconic characters in these solo driven films are played by some of the greatest actors of all time. Al Pacino. Robert De Niro.
And of course, Joaquin Phoenix.
Personally, I do hope we see more films that follow the ‘character study’ aesthetic, as long as they’re done right. The problem with the massive success of a film like Joker is that other major studios may try and replicate their formula, only to end up with a sub-par film.
….trend of ensemble casts like from the likes of Marvel, to more focused films on a single character that we can ride in the passenger with. If ‘DC Dark’ does actually become a thing, this wave of ‘character study’ films should continue, and we should be in for a treat.
…..full of pimps, stick up kids, fiends .
And this is no more apparent than in Taxi Driver.
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