Showing posts with label 1976. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1976. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Taxi Driver

When I started writing about cinema almost eighteen months ago, there was one film above all others which I was nervous to write about. A year and a half, over five hundred reviews and approximately 470,000 words later, the same film was still looming large over me. That film was Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, my favourite of all time. The unease came from two perspectives. On the one hand I didn’t feel as though my writing, limited in experience and knowledge as I am, could do it justice while I was also conscious about penning a review which ran for thousands of words and which no one would have the interest or time to read. It wasn’t until earlier this week when a friend said with some surprise that he couldn’t find Taxi Driver on my A-Z that I thought that time to review it had come. So with the added expectation of an audience waiting, I sat down to watch my favourite film once again.

Within ten seconds of the film starting, a bright, broad smile shone across my face. The entire film came back to me within the first few frames and I began to think ahead to the magnificent scenes which were to follow over the coming hour and fifty minutes. My excitement grew as the quickening snare and saxophone of Bernard Hermann’s score rose to meet the opening shot of a New York taxi appearing from behind a column of steam. The movie creates an off-kilter sensation within these first few seconds and it’s a feeling which continues to ride throughout the movie. The opening titles are a deep shade of blood red and forebode the bloodshed to come. The closeness of the taxi as it brushes past the static camera also creates a sense of excitement and danger and the jumping; out of focus lights as seen from inside the taxi make the viewer try in vain to pinpoint something recognisable. The eye darts across the screen in search of an image to grasp but is left wanting. Wanting that is until Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) walks out of the steam and into a taxi office.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

All the President's Men

This 1976 political thriller is based on the book of the same name by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the two reporters who were responsible for uncovering the facts of the Watergate Scandal which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. Nominated for eight Academy Awards it won three and is often regarded as one of the best political thrillers of all time.

The movie manages to capture the sense of urgency, frustration and fear that must be present inside a major newspaper office as its staff are working on a sensitive story such as the one depicted here. It portrays journalistic workings in what appears to be an accurate way and follows the story from beginning to, not quite the end, but a satisfactorily conclusion. The central partnership is strong and ebbs and flows from distrust to jealousy to solid teamwork and mutual admiration and respect. The film also gets to the heart of the Watergate Scandal, introducing a lot of characters who would otherwise have been lost in history.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


There are certain films which you assume you’ve seen. Rocky was one of these films. I could have sworn that I saw it as a kid but having watched it today, I’m now pretty sure that I’ve never seen it before. The film is so ingrained in popular culture that I knew the central characters and story well and recognised a lot of the iconic music and set piece scenes. I watched Rocky as part of my pledge to watch every Best Picture winning film but had been putting it off for a while. I don’t like boxing and I have no affinity for Sylvester Stallone either. The prospect of Sly and boxing plus memories of the bits of Rocky movies I had seen didn’t have me rushing to seek it out. Before watching I kept thinking to myself, “How on Earth did a film about boxing, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone win Best Picture at the Oscars?” Now I’ve seen it I can understand its appeal and enjoyed it quite a lot.

Rocky is a classic rags to riches story of a down and out semi-pro boxer/loan collector who is considered a bum by most of the neighbourhood. Early on it is made clear that Rocky ‘the Italian Stallion’ Balboa (Stallone) had talent but a lack of discipline and fell into the trappings of the mean streets of his home town of Philadelphia. Heavy Weight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) decides his next fight will be in Philly to celebrate America’s Bicentennial. When his opponent drops out he looks for a replacement and decides to invite a local boxer to challenge him for the title. That challenger is the seemingly down and out Rocky.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Kings of the Road

“The Yanks have colonized our subconscious"

Bruno (Rudiger Vogler) is a Cinema projector repair man who travels from town to town along the West and East German border repairing old cinema projectors. One day while shaving by the side of a road, a man drives his car at high speed into a lake, gets out and walks over to Bruno. Bruno, not knowing what else to do laughs at the man and offers him some clean clothes. The man, Robert (Hanns Zischler) hitchhikes with Bruno from town to town beginning a strange and often uneasy friendship.

The film has several themes which jump out at you and are present throughout. The first is a love of cinema and anger at what has become of the small German cinema. Most of the cinemas that Bruno visits are either badly run, have been turned into porn theatres or are closed altogether. This is director Wim Wenders way of showing viewers what is happening to small cinemas. It is a problem which over thirty years later is still present in my own country. Occasionally Bruno will come across a small, old theatre run by an ex Nazi that is run with care and dedication. A place where old, noisy machines are used by artisan projectionists to show the great classics of the 50s and 60s but generally he deals with people who have no interest in film or it’s proper projection. This film is very much a love letter to film.