Thirty-five years after De Niro first uttered the immortal line “You talkin’ to me?” Taxi Driver has lost none of its haunting power.
While purists might argue the only way to watch this grubby grindhouse/arthouse crossover is off a scratched, grainy print in a 42nd Street fleapit (caveat: you’ll need a time machine), Sony’s lavish, 4K restoration from the original negative – supervised by Scorsese himself – proves the real value of Blu-ray for cineastes.
With its hellish reds and steamy sidewalks, Taxi Driver was always a horror movie – “New York gothic we called it,” Scorsese says here – and this staggeringly crisp release proves how much of that stemmed from the cinematography.
Almost as rich as the visuals are the extras: all the docs and featurettes from the Special Edition DVD set, plus – at last! – Scorsese and Schrader’s rarely heard 1986 commentary track, originally recorded for the Criterion laserdisc.
There’s no backslapping banter here (they recorded it separately) but it’s jam-packed with rich insight. Scorsese gamely flags up each of his shot-steals and makes a discussion of John Huston’s three-strip, high-contrast Technicolor technique in Moby Dick riveting. It’s the closest you’ll get to sitting in the director’s old class at NYU Film School.
Meanwhile, Schrader tells us why Travis wears a Mohawk before going loco (a ’Nam reference) and we learn the stand-up routine origin of De Niro’s “You talkin’ to me?” mirror improv.
Bottom line: a classic movie gets a classic Blu-ray release. Thank you, Sony Home Entertainment.
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