Friday, August 31, 2018

Source Code

Written at the time of the film's release...

"This Train is Bound for Glory, This Train"
or
"Getting to Heaven By Way of Hell"

Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up, disoriented on a trainHe was on a mission in Afghanistan just a moment ago...now he's on a train heading for Chicago, and the pretty girl (Michelle Monaghansitting across from him is calling him "Sean."

What the..?

The world is rushing by, full of commuter-sounds and commuter-problems, but all he knows is that he's not where he should be, and that the face staring back at him from a bathroom mirror isn't his.
"Don't worry," says the pretty girl, Christina. "Everything is going to be alright."

And then, the train explodes.
Famous last words.

Duncan Jones' (a clever enough director after two films that we can stop saying he's David Bowie's kid) last film was the under-performing Moon, featuring a tour de force performance by Sam Rockwell, and a sensibility that borrowed its uneasy creepiness from other sci-fi pics like 2001: A Space Odyssey. What was nice about Moon was that it was science fiction for adults, touching on themes and concepts that point out what role exactly man will play in Space, whether its comfortable or not. In Source Code, Jones and his clever scriptwriter Ben Ripley explore the same issues in the guise of a science-fiction time-travel movie that has, at its core—its own source code, if you will—the guarantee that the train is going to blow up every few minutes...like a movie serial gone very, very wrong. And it is Stevens' mission, as he is military, to keep catching that train for the critical eight minutes before the explosion to try and find the bomb, stop it (low priority), but, more importantly, find out who did it—for that terrorist attack is merely a distraction for emergency crews to turn their attention away from a much bigger threat. Stevens must survey the passengers on the train to determine how the bomb was detonated...and who did it.
Each eight minutes gives him more clues, narrowing his focus and his mission, but at the same time, he's starting to have feelings for the girl sitting across from himHe wants to save her, and maybe the other strangers on the train.
But, like any broken-hearted suitor, he's living in the past. They're already dead. And time is running out for Chicago. His mission specialists (Vera Farmigadoing a lot of subtle work with so little—and Jeffrey Wrightdoing too much, as he is wont to do when searching for a character) are tasked to keep him on point: "Out here, the clocks only move in one direction."

"Out here?" Where is he?
"Star Trek: The Next Generation" had an ingenious episode "Cause and Effect" (written by Brannon Braga and directed by Jonathan Frakes), where the U.S.S. Enterprise-D was caught in a time-loop, but its crew didn't know it. We'd watch them go through a series of events, there'd be an emergency and the ship blew up. Cut to commercial.  Back to the story, everything would reset, we'd watch the crew go through the same scenario, but with an increasing sense of deja-vu. The ship would blow up. Back to commercial. We'd run through the same incidents over and over, until Picard and co. realize that..."oh, we're caught in a time-loop, and we're doing the same things over and over, how do we stop?" It takes a few Enterprises blowing to smithereens before they figure out how to keep it from happening again. It was 60 minutes of Boom, Rinse and Repeat.
As I said, clever.* Like Groundhog Day with one hell of a punch-line. But here, the stakes are higher. Stevens doesn't know anyone on that train, but in his plunging again and again into that future-Hell, he gets to know them, as they go from suspects to victims, while managing to piss off each and every one of them along the way. The deeper he goes, the more he empathizes with their plight and wants to change a History already set in smoke and flame. Even if in a small way.
Source Code manages to be many genres in its perpetual loop of pieces of time: Science-fiction, disaster, action, detective, love story, and finally, inspirational, in showing how we, mere meat and electricity, can escape any trap that science, however well-intentioned, springs on us.
The best of science-fiction, despite the abilities of its clockwork mechanisms and theories to explain How Things Work, take those trappings of the soon-to-be, and tests the mettle of the beings caught in the gears. The most inspiring of science fiction always throws in the element of humanity that rises above by taking a leap of faith in nothing that approximates theory. Inspiration makes science. Wishing makes it so. Humanity makes both. And there's no formula, no theorem, no artificial intelligence to replace that one organic spark, the living breathing pilot light in the testing furnace of technology.


And the belief that everything is going to be alright.
The official poster for Source Code just sucks (and even the one I used above doesn't do the job).
But Olly Moss designed one (for the SXSW double bill with Jones' Moon) and it's quite timely.


* Jones is all too aware of the source code for this movie.  One of my favorite bits in the film is who plays Stevens' father in voice-over.  Of course, it has to be him.  And it's a terrific performance, even if we never see him.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Disney's The Lone Ranger

Written at the time of the film's release....

...A Cloud of Dust...
or
Depp in the Heart of Texas

The last time "The Lone Ranger" hit the big screen (1981's The Legend of the Lone Ranger, directed by cinematographer William A Fraker), it hit with a resounding thud. It's not that the story wasn't any good, or that the basic idea isn't ripe for story-telling—it's just that the movie was dull, dull, dull, even as it was trying to be more "politically correct," giving John Reid's "Indian companion," Tonto, a bit more respect and hewing a little closer to a generically Native culture.

That was then. This is now.  John Ford made the first modern Western in Stagecoach.  Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah made the "post-modern" Western in the 60's. Then, after post-modernism came death. People stopped making Westerns entirely, with hold-outs like Eastwood and Costner and Kasdan and Harris, the tropes of the genre falling into use in, cop movies and martial arts and space fantasy films. But the form stayed pretty much dead and buried. Given the history of the form, and with its emphasis on the spirit world, resurrection of dead men, and its manic quality (especially as its de rigeur for the creatures these days) maybe Gore Verbinski's film of The Lone Ranger (now Disney's) is the first zombie Western.
It fits.* One of the themes galloping through this one is that "nature is out of balance," what with the "Wild" West being invaded by iron horses, the presence of "spirit horses," villains who will eat the hearts of their victims and manically carnivorous jack-rabbits out on the plains. Zombies, okay. But it's a bit of a Frankenstein monster, as well, made up of parts of what has gone before. The final credits say that it was filmed "from Moab to Monument Valley," mostly Utah, and its true, with shots in Zion, Arches National Park, and the Monuments (looking slightly different from the time John Ford filmed them—the calved spires seem to have been digitally erased—although Verbinski has taken a lot of Ford's specific angles several times in the film). 














Verbinski's The Lone Ranger on the left; Ford's The Searchers on the right

But it seems like Nature isn't the only one with the problem. The Lone Ranger is a Western out of balance, tipping from side to side and waving its arms frantically while standing on a line between olde Westerns and the post-modern varieties, with full-stops at the Leone era** and the silent era of comedic Westerns, specifically Buster Keaton's The General (not technically a Western, but go with me here) in the film's final bursts of energy. The movie veers from queasy nastiness to whimsy to outright comedy and slapstick, without taking a break for water. The villains are played absolutely straight, from Tom Wilkinson's rail baron to his nasty co-hort, Butch Cavendish (a greasily unrecognizable David Fichtner), while the heroes are bumblers with good intentions, like Armie Hammer's rube of a Ranger,*** and top-billed (above the character and movie title) Johnny Depp's bizarre take on Tonto—well, it's bizarre for Tonto, but not for Depp, as this "Indian companion" would line up well with his other pasty-faced odd-balls like Edward Scissorhands and Barnabas Collins. And, in action, his Tonto acts more like the Sam character in Benny & Joon, there's some Chaplin, but a lot of Buster Keaton in his stone-faced, article-challenged Tonto (the make-up for which is inspired by a painting by Kirby Sattler entitled "I Am Crow," which is neither authentic or historically accurate, but it looks distinctive, which suits Depp's purposes, I suppose). 
The movie runs on two parallel tracks of revenge—the Ranger, John Reid's, and Tonto's—as the two end up joining forces to deal with the guys who ambushed the Ranger's brother and posse, and the guys who wiped out Tonto's village, for which he feels responsible. It's a little late in the game to plead weariness of the revenge scenario—it seems like every movie hero has to have a personal grudge as a pilot light, rather than to "do what they gotta do" through some sense of altruism. Possibly that heroic quality is passé or considered foolish in today's culture, or maybe there's no sense of audience involvement if it isn't seen why the protagonists stand up for what's right.
But, it spends most of its running time moseying through origin stories and the whittling away at the uneasy alliance between Reid and Tonto. Then, once things get going, there's an extended chase sequence featuring the two trains involved in the driving of the golden spike uniting the nation's railways, an "Indiana Jones" type of marathon that explores everything that you can possibly do with two trains running on occasionally parallel tracks (when did they find time to lay all that extra track, one wonders?). The sequence would make the silent comedians gape, and propelled by variations of "The William Tell Overture," provides a lot of entertainment.  It's fun for quite awhile and Verbinski constructs some Rube Goldbergian scenarios that are, once or twice, ingenious.
But, instead of coming at the nick of time, it comes a might too late.  The focus there at the end comes after a lot of wandering aimlessly through the desert, looking for something to do. Granted, its not as dull as the 80's attempt to put the spurs to the franchise, and in parts its entertaining, if one isn't looking for native axes to grind**** or is approaching the material with an already jaundiced eye. One wonders if it was worth doing, or whether "The Lone Ranger" should be allowed to pass into legend, a relic of the thrilling days of yesteryear.


My favorite appearance of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as
The Lone Ranger and Tonto.
Kind of reminds me of how the movie plays them.*****



* Yeah, but one can see that as a strain running through Verbinski's work, especially considering the "Pirates" movies and Rango, where folks are coming back from the dead, or at least the crossing back from whatever spirit-world seems to fit the project.

** Composer Hans Zimmer does a lot of riffing off Ennio Morricone, the most notes taken from For a Few Dollars More (with its tinkling chime contrasting with a heavy-handed forward momentum theme), but also in the comedic grace notes that follow Tonto's shenanigans with a punctuating trill that Leone used for Eastwood's "Man with No Name" in A Fistful of Dollars.


*** Hammer is introduced like Jimmy Stewart's Ransom Stoddard in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the "duded" pilgrim who stands out far too much in the rough West, in a suit so formal he's mistaken for a missionary...by a missionary. It's one of his better performances, showing that he's at his best, comedically, despite (and maybe because of) his blandly handsome looks, in a way that's similar to Cary Elwes. 


**** Most of the talk is focused on Depp and his "white-face" portrayal of Tonto and how authentic it is (not very), which with the existing suspicions people have of the character as demeaned and inferior, has been mostly negative, because, like skin color, its very easy to see and remark upon with what one thinks of as authority. One wonders if such a rehabilitation is possible, given the character's man-servant past, like Robinson Crusoe's "Friday," or The Green Hornet's "Kato" (although it certainly helped if Bruce Lee was in the role, bringing the character up several notches just on ability and charisma—should we mention that Brit "The Green Hornet" Reid is a descendant of The Lone Ranger?), and whether its even worth it to right the past's wrongs. The alternative is to stay in place, and be content—although grousing—with the way things were and just leave it aside.  I think it says something that Depp thought Tonto was the more interesting character to play, as for authentic...is anything Depp does very authentic?  Short answer: No. As for the whole racial thing, I thought the best line was Depp's Tonto griping about the ranger being a "stupid white man," and the Chinese railroad workers grinning and nodding in agreement at him—he's just another American...to them. Now, that's some funny ethnic humor there.


**** It also is inherently racist as it paints Tonto in a bad light, obviously Natives are gluttonous. (*cough*)


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The General (1926)

The General (Clyde Bruckman/Buster Keaton, 1926) In April 1862, during the Civil War, a train, "The General," was stolen by a collection of Union soldiers who went hundreds of miles behind enemy lines on a sabotage mission to destroy rail-lines, snap telegraph communications, burn bridges, and generally disrupt supply and communication infrastructure for the Confederate Army by tearing up the tracks of the Atlantic and Western railroad from the town of Big Shanty (just north of Atlanta) to Chattanooga. The story is that when the Blue-legs stole the train, its conductor, one William Fuller (age merely 25), and the engineer pursued the hijackers on foot and track, by hand-car, and speeding backwards train—in other words, by any dogged means necessary—to try and stop the train-jackers, which they did for 87 miles before alerting the Confederacy of the raid. It became legendary as "The Great Locomotive Chase," when an account of the circumstances was published soon after in 1863. 
A scant 64 years later, director Bruckman had read the account and reminded film-comedian Buster Keaton about it, sparking a remembrance Keaton had of reading the story as a youth and the two began elaborate plans to tell the story as a silent feature, even going so far as trying to rent the original locomotive at that time on display in Chattanooga, for the film (they were turned down when the train's owners heard Keaton's plans for their relic was going to be a comedy).
Keaton was undeterred and found a section of the United States where vintage trains were still running—Oregon. Twenty miles south of the city of Eugene, Keaton set up shop in the town of Cottage Grove and, with a budget of $400,000, began what would many (including myself) regard to be his masterpiece, but also his greatest financial failure, which ultimately led to his selling his studio to M-G-M and being folded into their system and derailing his directing, and even his starring, career. 
It is 1861, and Johnny Gray (Keaton) is an engineer on "The General", a train of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. He pulls into Marietta, Georgia to see his sweetheart, Annabelle (Mack Sennett comedienne Marion Mack). On his visit, it's announced that war has broken out between the North and South, and Annabelle's father and brothers head into town to enlist. Johnny takes a short-cut, and gets there to be first in line, but is deeply disappointed when he is turned away—it is determined that his job as an engineer is more important to the war effort, but he isn't informed of that. All he knows is that he has been rejected, despite his repeated efforts. This makes him the subject of disdain in Annabelle's family and she tells him she will never look upon him again until he is in uniform. 
It is a year later, the war is raging, and Annabelle's father has been wounded in the war. As she goes to see him in Chattanooga, she, ironically, is taken aboard Johnny's train "The General" and, seeing him not fighting for the South, she treats him coldly. But, fate steps in. At the breakfast stop in Big Shanty, Union soldiers board the train and hijack it, taking with them a luckless Annabelle who has gone to retrieve money for breakfast from her trunk. Johnny sees the two loves of his life being stolen from the station and he gives chase, urging others to help. But, they all fall to the wayside as Johnny single-mindedly pursues, taking a hand-cart onto the tracks to try and catch up. Then, a bicycle, then another train. 
With a train that has less weight to haul, he's actually able to gain on the Union forces, but, they, fearing an army pursuing them by train—which, due to an unfortunate linkage failure is no longer true—they decide to tear their train apart to toss in the way of the pursuing train, and with which Johnny must deal as he moves along. As in the following memorably well-timed and potentially noggin'-clonking gesture:
When Orson Welles was making Citizen Kane at RKO, he stated that it was liking playing with the biggest, grandest train-set in the world. Now, imagine Keaton doing exactly the same thing with an actual train, mining the situation for every joke and "bit" he could muster as his engineer must play offense, defense and find ways to keep the train running with a limited supply of fuel and every additional structure that passes—a water tower, a large mortar (with cannonballs)—becomes the inspiration for a series of ingenious gags that alternately threaten and thrill, the two responses not being all that dissimilar. It was nothing Keaton hadn't already been doing for a decade, but, here, the work seems all the more inspired.
The General is also a movie about progress. Even as he pursues his quarry, there is a war going on in the background. In fact, he has been pursuing so long, that at some point (which he doesn't notice), Johnny crosses enemy lines. As he moves forward, Southern forces are retreating from an advancing Northern Army, but so concentrated is he in chopping firewood to stoke the engine, that he doesn't even notice. It's a joke that wouldn't work in a sound film (despite the masking thundering that a train makes while travelling, you would still probably hear a battle going on). But, in the world of silents, it's perfectly plausible and might even escape the notice of some viewers. It's here Keaton leaves History behind (the actual hijackers never made it to Chattanooga) and makes his own tracks of story, as once Johnny crosses enemy territory, he is no longer the pursuer, he is the pursued. He beats a hasty retreat.
At Chattanooga, Johnny is able to infiltrate Union headquarters without detection, and manages in his time there to rescue both Annabelle and his precious engine, heading back along the same tracks he had previously traveled—in the other direction. Only this second chase has a different dynamic: this time he and Annabelle are the ones being chased, followed by the Union soldiers on-board the very train he used to pursue them. The priority becomes keeping The General up to speed, supplying wood for the engine, while also keeping an eye on Annabelle, who has a propensity for getting in peril, or being charmingly useless, given the circumstances. 

Her priorities seem to be sweeping—not very helpful—and she's a poor judge of fire-wood, tossing away larger pieces if they have a knot in them and offering twigs as compensation. This evokes a response from Johnny where he first tries to strangle her in frustration and then kisses her for her efforts, marking a point where he loses his hapless love-sickness for her, but regains it as a stronger, more mature love, despite his frustrations with her. The character has grown, lost some of his innocence, but also deepens his feelings for her. In a microcosm, the moment is a small skirmish in The War Between Men and Women, far richer than most examples during the silent era where women were either Madonnas or Victims (but never whores) and where Men vacillated between apes and angels. It is truer than most of Keaton's romantic relationships in movies—women were either Madonnas or Frustrations, and eventually become comic props—but Keaton's protagonist, for the momentary baring of both sides of his id, seems far more transparent and far truer.
The single most expensive shot in the silent movie era.
The two are able to make it back to the Southern lines in time to warn the gray-coats and set up a trap that results in the most spectacular stunt that Keaton has ever staged—the scuttling of the Yankee locomotive by blowing up the bridge over which it is travelling. Scrupulously co-ordinated and filmed with multiple cameras, it was carried out in one unrepeatable "take." The entire production, including construction, began on May 27, 1926 and wrapped the following September 18th. By the end of it, it was rumored that the budget had grown to $1 million (some of which went to paying off local farmers for fires caused on their farms by embers from explosions and the trains), employed some 1500 locals (including 500 from the Oregon National Guard playing Union and Southern troops) and generated some 200,000 feet of film (reminiscent of the Civil War photography of Matthew Brady, as achieved by Keaton, Bruckman, and their cinematographers Bert Haines and Dev Jennings), which he edited over three months for a late December release.
The reviews were brutal at the time and the film lost money, changing Keaton's fortunes and earning him a reputation that prompted closer scrutiny of his film-making and budgets. But, posterity has been far kinder and more generous, and the film has been watched—or "scrutinized" far more than other films of the Silent Era. In 1971, Orson Welles called it "the greatest movie ever made about the Civil War."* In 1972, it was ranked #8 in the BFI's Sight & Sound Magazine poll of the greatest movies ever made (it was ranked #12 in 1982 and #32 in 2012). In 1989, the first year of its inception, it was voted into the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It was the first silent era film to be issued in the HD format of Blu-Ray, and its legacy lingers on influencing the works of Chuck Jones, Blake Edwards, Steven Spielberg, Gore Verbinski, and anybody else who aspires to the gracefulness of visual comedy on film.



*

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Olde Review: Closely Watched Trains

This was part of a series of reviews of the ASUW Film series back in the '70's. Except for some punctuation, I haven't changed anything from the way it was presented, giving the snarky, clueless kid I was back in the '70's a break. Any stray thoughts and updates I've included with the inevitable asterisked post-scripts.


This Friday's films in 130 Kane Hall at 7:30pm are Closely Watched Trains and Lacombe, Lucien.

Closely Watched Trains aka "Ostre sledované vlaky" (Jirí Menzel, 1966) Closely Watched Trains is a wry, sometimes hysterical Czech film by Jiri Menzel, a person you've probably never heard of and have already forgotten.* It tells the story of Miloš Hrma, an insignificant young man in the scope of WWII, whose father was retired at 48 and now spends his day lying around and keeping track of the comings and goings of the train. Another relative was a hypnotist and a couple years back, he tried his skills on an advancing Nazi tanke-gruppe and was promptly crushed to a pulp (I am telling you this because there is no way in Hell that you'll be able to read the sub-titles in the opening minutes).** These are only two examples of Menzel's comedy-of-errors style of telling his story.

Menzel takes little incidents of the story of Miloš's work-a-day situation standing at the train platform—a job he wanted "just so he could strut on the platform." And his stories are sometimes hilariously satirical (for an example, there is an hysterical look at a town Nazi explaining the war situation and in a blase manner explaining that withdrawals from the American forces are such wonderful tactical maneuvers). Sometimes (most of the time), the stories are very ribald; one of the sub-plots is Miloš's constant failure with women, which, in context with the habits of a fellow platform-strutter, makes him turn to a suicide attempt in a dilapidated hotel. The hotel is being worked over by a fellow with a pile-driver. In this scene what is going to happen—how the two will intersect—is very apparent, but the sequence's effect is that it displaces the humor of the situation (which passed with the audience's first realization of what, inevitably, will happen) with suspense. Will it happen before Miloš is dead? It's an effective sequence because it anticipates viewer reaction and changes it to the further effect of the film.
In the last half-hour, Miloš is used like a pawn in a chess game in an attempt to head off a Nazi munitions train. It's outcome is consistent with the rest of the film, but there is no sense of real tragedy at the end, more an explosion of fulfillment. You may find Closely Watched Trains a very entertaining film.
Just a reminder (he said, slapping his forehead with his palm) I wrote this back in February 1977, and, although sorely tempted, I didn't change anything besides punctuation (and had to get fairly creative with that!). Closely Watched Trains won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1968, and is one of three films I remember most fondly from the Winter ASUW series—the other two being Hari-Kiri and Il PostoTrains probably because it's crack comic timing reminded me of my beloved Warner Brothers cartoons, with a dash (a mad dash!) of Buster Keaton thrown in for good measure. And the comedy came from character, not from out of the blue.
This review is more than thirty years old, but it's heartening—in fact, a bit miraculous—that Jiri Menzel is still making movies, his last being I Served the King of England, which was also about young professionals learning their craft to uproarious results.




* This was near the end of the series and I was getting a bit punchy by this time, but that's no excuse for insulting the audience that one is trying to "encourage" to go see a film.

** As I recall they were "white-on-white" and virtually indecipherable. Criterion has put out the DVD of Closely Watched Trains and they're more scrupulous in their translations and making sure that they're legible. Criterion is a great DVD publisher.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Don't Make a Scene: Taxi Driver

The Story: "You talkin' to me?"

I wonder what screen-writer Paul Schrader thinks of this scene.* Schrader put a lot of his heart and soul (and probably a bit of his sanity) into the script for Taxi Driver. His man who falls between the cracks ("God's lonely man" as he calls himself) has so isolated himself that his psyche is unraveling in a series of self-reflexive delusions. Trolling the streets in his hack, ferrying the entire strata of the denizens tramping the streets of New York, he spouts ambivalence to what he sees.

But, deep inside that brain ("squirming like a toad"), it's Judgement Day. And a combination of alcohol and barbituates to keep him awake behind the wheel isn't helping his mental state any.

Schrader articulates his character, Travis Bickle, with a mumbled narration translated from a diary the cabbie keeps of his day-to-day existence, as well as the fantasy-letters he sends to his parents. It's how we get to know the real Travis, as Robert De Niro's performance is contained and seems to seep out of his eye-balls, his dialogue limited and tentative, while on the sound-track the sounds of the street play in the background with the immediacy of being in the room.

So how must Schrader feel that the one scene that everybody remembers and percolated into the nation's zeitgeist is this ad-libbed scene in front of a mirror?** Travis has armed himself and adapted the weapons for concealment and surprise. But that's not enough. As he practices his draw, he practices his 'tude, too. Mouths his lines, tries his stance, chooses his persona, like an actor playing a role, he wants to see what his audience sees and refine it. And the "You talkin' to me?" like the rest of the mumbled, off-the-cuff, bits of play-acting, is a pose, a feint, and a challenge, all played out with a cocky grin because he knows the end-game.

That the angle favors him speaking to the audience just gives the scene a little more heat.

Taxi Driver still creeps, thirty years and a couple of intrusions into reality later. It may be the greatest film of the 70's, that last bastion of quality film-making before film-makers became students of students, and the block-buster mentality sunk everything to the level of the bottom line. Taxi Driver reflects the drifting schism of activism and narcissism in the post-Viet-nam America. The nation's wounds were still deep, and it seemed like there were more loose cannons all too eager to fire into them in a sado-masochistic urge to cauterize them in the muzzle-flash.

The Set-Up: Veteran Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) drives a cab up and down the night-soaked neon streets of New York, a steady diet of coffee and barbituates interfering with his sleep, his strike-out daytime activities feeding his feelings of elevated persecution and paranoia. While the city swirls with political gamesmanship and doorway seaminess, Travis has taken up arms against his perceived sea of troubles as a self-appointed vigilante—the concept hardening, the targets still undetermined. For now, the demons he encounters are in his own mirror, and he's embracing them.

Action!

Travis Bickle: Yeah.
Travis: Uh-huh.
Travis: Faster than you, you fuckin' son of a--
Travis: I saw you comin'...
Travis: ...you fuckin' shit-heel.
Travis: I'm standin' here. You make the move.
Travis: You make the move.
Travis: It's your move.
Travis: Don't try it, you fuck.
Travis: You talkin' to me?
Travis: You talkin' to me?
Travis: You talkin' to me?
Travis: Then who the hell else are you talking-- You talking to me?
Travis: Well, I'm the only one here.
Travis: Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?
Travis: Oh, yeah?
Travis: Huh.
Travis: 'kay...


Taxi Driver

Words by Paul Schrader (and Robert De Niro)

Pictures by Michael Chapman and Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver is available on DVD from Sony Home Video.










* At this point in the script, it just says: "Travis speaks to himself in the mirror."

** Not only is "You talkin' to me?" #10 in AFI's list of the 100 most-memorable screen-lines, the sequence has been parodied endlessly—even by De Niro himself (in his guise as "Fearless Leader" in the De Niro-produced The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
.