Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan’s column on movies runs every two weeks. She is a retired professor of English and association executive. Mary’s previous reviews are listed at the end of this post.
I finally ordered Taxi Driver (1976) from Netflix because it was a famous film that I had never seen. Of course, I knew that it was one of Martin Scorsese’s most notable productions and that it helped to make the careers of Robert De Niro, Jody Foster and Sybil Shepherd. I’d put off seeing the film because I can’t stand violence in movies.
I am not talking about phony violence like the made up fights in a recent film such as Sherlock Holmes where there are gory discoveries, explosions, and fights in which every punch is accented by a sonic boom. I am talking about the kind of thing that shocked me watching The Godfather–garroting a character in the passenger seat of an automobile so that he kicks a hole in the windshield–though I admired the overall brilliance of the film.
However, I did not find much to admire in the torturing of a captive policeman very slowly in Reservoir Dogs (1994), or showing a casino owner pounding the hand of a card shark with a hammer in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995). This full frontal depiction of shocking violence both sickens and, I have to admit, fascinates me. It’s the latter sensation that is most troubling, even though Quentin Tarantino has recently suggested that my kind of reaction is really part of the entertainment thrill he wants to deliver–the “eeuww” factor.