Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taxi Driver | You Talkin’ To Me ?

One of the greatest performances in the history of cinema is certainly Robert de Niro’s 'Travis Bickle' in Taxi Driver (1976). It’s not only his performance that makes the movie real, but also the scenes, where Travis drives his cab at the backstreets of New York, flavored with jazz scores of famous composer Bernard Herrmann. (Herrmann’s scores include also several other famous Hollywood movies, such as Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Fahrenheit 451…and Taxi Driver was his last work).

the alert at the back of Travis is a hint of the things to come in the movie
The main character, Travis Bickle, is a good-looking guy in his mid-20s. However, he is an outcast, socially incapable to adapt himself to the society. That Travis works as a cab driver during the night shifts is maybe because he wants to deal with his insomnia which is due to the Vietnam War where he fought. When he drives his cab in the New York City night life, we dive into his lonely world; paranoia; emptiness;  anxiety; private fears; embarrassments; and later, to his violent fantasies.

Martin Scorsese - the director himself - is playing the passenger in Travis' cab
What Scorsese, de Niro and Schrader (the screen writer) have created in Travis was a violent character behind his sympathy, so that the movie didn't turn out to be a sequence of horrific events, but rather a movie that lets us to discover Travis' psychology and guess his following violent actions with the increasing tension in his personality throughout the movie.

From Travis's diary:

I work the whole city, up, down, don't make no difference to me - does to some.

All my life needed was a sense of direction, a sense of someplace to go. I do not believe one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, but should become a person like other people.

May 8, 1972. My life has taken another turn again. The days move along with regularity...

I tried to call her several times. But after the first call, she would no longer come to the phone.....The headaches got worse I think I've got stomach cancer. I should not complain so. "You're only as healthy as you feel."

I realize now how much she is like the others, so cold and distant. Many people are like that. They're like a union.

He says to himself once:
"The life of loneliness pursues me wherever I go: in bars, cars, coffee shops, theaters, stores, sidewalks. There is no escape. I am God's lonely man"
Here, he makes an allusion to the essay, God’s Lonely Man, written by Thomas Wolfe (a novelist lived in early twentieth century).
There, Wolfe says:
"The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence."
The most memorable scene of Taxi Driver is where Robert de Niro makes his famous "Are you talkin' to me?" sequence in front of a mirror with a peaked anger:

This scene influenced many other movies later, and led to another memorable scene in famous french movie La Haine (1995), in which Vincent Cassel impersonates Travis Bickle by talking to himself on a mirror with an extreme anger saying 'C'est à moi que tu parles?' (You talkin' to me?). For the curious ones, here is the video ;)

For a full review of Taxi Driver, check here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This band is from Oxford. Singer Brian Briggs has a voice similar to that of Amy MacDonald. Their music is like countryside indie-rock with some rock 'n roll tune. It sometimes reminds me of boy bands from 50s singing emotional gospel songs:).

"Zorbing" would fit well a walk outside in springtime, which I do now.

"Unfaithful" has a very nice intro. And the swings of the guitar at the end of verses; just fine.

"Here comes the blackout" refers to the July 7th bombings in London in UK. Loving your neighbour would bring peace..

"Watching birds" is inspired by Briggs' studies and is a very fun song:). It is recorded in a house, with a tape recorder. And the label liked it and didn't want a re-make.

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill

"The most angry song I've ever written" says Thom Yorke about this song. Well the whole piece sounds like one's telling the truth about something, some danger. Because he/she has suffered of it once:

..did I fall or was I pushed?

and then it comes, "watch out people!":

..ask the ministery
..there are so many of us
..i feel me slipping in and out of conciousness

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Capturing the moment or more?

Photography is frequently considered as the art of capturing the right moment. Certainly, this is a very distinctive aspect of photography which finds its place extensively in the work of the French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue.

Jacques Henri Lartigue, Dive (1902)
Lartigue’s intent in capturing the moment was to reveal the interesting scenes that we miss with our eyes. These surreal images put people in situations that look unrealistic: A boy diving into the water looks like as if he is floating on the surface, a woman jumping down the stairs looks like as if she is flying.

Jacques Henri Lartigue, Flight (1903)
But is this all that photography offers us? Capturing the moment… Or perhaps can we extract more out of these snapshots of time?

This question has been intriguing for many photographers and still keeps initiating contemporary photographers to explore different points of view trying to find their own answer. Irina Werning, a young photographer from Buenos Aires, is one of them. She tries telling the unknown stories of people through their pictures in the past and present.

Irina Werning, Matias (1977 - 2010)
In her project “Back to the Future” she recreates the settings of early childhood pictures of different people. The only things that change in the photographs are the people themselves. Sometimes these changes are quite expected, but sometimes they can be pretty radical.

Irina Werning, La Negra (1980 - 2010)
Werning shows us two snapshots from people’s lives. In between are unknown stories that sometimes reveal themselves slightly through the snapshots. Yet, the blanks are abundant and are still there for the viewer to fill.

The search for alternative answers to the question of whether photography can serve as more than capturing the moment leads us to undiscovered or even nonexistent shores. Perhaps photography can do more than just capturing the moment. Perhaps we can capture stories through photography; we can capture lives.