Sunday, September 4, 2011

This ain't Woody Allen's Manhattan

So I'm really, really glad I re-watched "Taxi Driver." The first time I saw it I a) didn't know enough about noir; and b) clearly wasn't paying attention. So in the first place, I missed all the dark wit of making Travis Bickle *seem like/pretend to be/feel he is* Sam Spade (his profession allows him to move between the highs and lows of the city with the freedom of a PI; has the whole knight-in-shining-armor complex that threatens to undo Spade) and have him *act like* a cross between Rorschach from "Watchmen" and Marky Mark from "Fear." And because I had TOTALLY FORGOTTEN THE ENDING, for most of the movie I thought the film was going to be about the impossibility of enacting a hardboiled heroic masculinity in a degraded modern (small-m) world, which would make it a Modern (capital-m) text. But no, the coda makes all the difference. By having Travis be read as precisely the type of hero he thinks he is but really isn't, it's actually postmodern! (I think--Nat is the pomo expert of our shared brain).

I was a little perplexed by the toxic and pervasive undertone of racism of the movie. Is it supposed to be another marker of how deeply tense and fraught the city is? Does it produce/encourage Travis's descent into madness? It seemed a little throwaway to be doing this kind of work.

So now, two questions: What sayeth the book? and Who buys popcorn at a porno? Oh, and LOVED Marty's cameo as the creeper husband who extols the bloody virtues of a .44.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. Is it pomo is a good question. I never did much with masculinity and pomo so that kind of throws me. My first instinct is that this isn't pomo but I think that may be due to my not connecting with the movie the way I connect with pomo texts. But, maybe Scorsese is my Cormac McCarthy of film. Which, actually seems apt. They both have something that shuts me down.

    HA! I wouldn't have guessed they even sold popcorn at a porno. Shows what I know.

    Marty's cameo was super fun :)