Director: Martin Scorsese.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel. USA 1976. 114 mins.
Taxi Driver, recently revived for its 35th anniversary in an immaculate new print, grips like a vice.
Nursing various resentments, probably fuelled by a fear of social and sexual failure, Travis Bickle's (De Niro) attention turns to Iris (Foster), a 14-year-old prostitute, and he makes it his mission to save her.
The film's expressionist images eloquently mirror Bickle's sense of the impoverished, tawdry, sometimes menacing New York of the mid-70s as a hell on earth. Scorsese's Palme d'Or winner remains one of the defining American movies of that decade, not only for its bravura flair, but also for the way it points to the troubled urban mood of those times by locating Bickle's psychotic rage in his ill-concealed racism, misogyny and anxieties concerning all-round impotence.
Director: Milos Foreman.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman. USA 1975. 133 mins.
Jack Nicholson is the ingenious, heroic free spirit R.P. ‘Mac’ McMurphy, who leads an uprising in the men’s ward of a mental hospital, run by heartless Nurse Ratched (Fletcher). Adapted from Ken Kesey’s best-selling 1962 novel and produced by Saul Zaentz (Amadeus, The English Patient) and Michael Douglas (his first producer role), the brilliant supporting cast includes Danny DeVito – in his first major role – as Martini, Brad Dourif (Billy Bibbit), Christopher Lloyd (Taber) and Will Sampson as Chief Bromden.
Director: Raoul Peck. Featuring: James Baldwin. France/USA 2016.
With unprecedented access to James Baldwin’s original work, award-winning filmmaker Raoul Peck has completed the cinematic version of the book Baldwin never wrote – a radical narration about race in America that tracks the lives and assassinations of Baldwin’s friends, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. By confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of these three men, we uncover a larger narrative of America’s historical and current denial and irrational relationship with race. Whilst it is partly anchored in the struggle for equality in the ’50s and ’60s, I Am Not Your Negro is about what it means to be black in America today.