'Taxi Driver' at the Beacon Theater

For me, watching any movie is an experience. A group of people came together to craft a story that takes viewers on a visual journey, and you come out on the other end possibly feeling emotional, inspired, or full of mirth. However, there are certain times when watching a movie feels like more of a heightened experience. For me, this is usually when I see an old movie in a theater with a packed audience, watching the latest blockbuster with the eager public, or introducing family and friends to my favorite films, in a theater or at home. I plan on occasionally writing posts about these various film experiences, or filmsperiences--

filmsperience: An amalgamated phrase, made-up by me, to indicate a particularly thrilling and/or enjoyable film experience I encounter.

So I'm a bit late to report this, but on April 21st, I was lucky enough to go to the 40th anniversary screening with my sister of Taxi Driver (1976) at the lovely Beacon Theater. Not only that, but there was a panel discussion afterwards with Martin Scorcese, Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybil Shepard, Michael Phillips, and Paul Schrader (the producer and screenwriter, respectively). Needless to say, my film geek self was freaking out.

This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but until this event, I had never seen this movie in full. This really would not be embarrassing for most people, but in my world, it's not a fun confession to make. Taxi Driver ranks as one of the greatest American movies ever made, and as a film buff, I feel timid to admit that I haven't seen a movie that is so obviously a classic--it often ends up in Top 10 lists, "You talkin' to me" is now a common phrase, and it's a movie that has influenced many actors and directors since it's release.

Anyway, the Beacon was at full capacity, and my sister Julia and I had amazing seats in the second row. Julia had never seen the movie either, and it became clear from all the people talking before the movie, we were probably two of the only people in the theater who had never seen Taxi Driver.

De Niro introduced the movie, and jokingly chided anyone who had said, "You talkin' to me?" for the last 40 years. Once the movie started, I became so mesmerized by the movie, that I felt a mixture of guilt for not having seen this before, and excitement that my first-time viewing was in such a beautiful space, with the people who actually made the movie near by.

After spending 113 minutes being spooked by the excessive amount of blood, how much New York had changed, and coming up with my own thoughts on the famous ending, all the creative forces behind the movie came on stage. For me, watching the movie was the main event, and seeing Scorsese et al was like whipped cream on ice cream: not essential, but you're pleased it's there. Everyone recounted their memories (some faded and some crystal clear), ranging from how it got made to it's reception at Cannes, and how Tennessee Williams hated the movie. From my perspective, I always enjoy hearing about the behind-the-scenes of a classic movie, but my sister Julia made the excellent point that no one on stage discussed any motifs of themes in the movie. While I know that there wasn't a lot of time to discuss everything surrounding the movie, I did agree with Julia that some discussion of their creative decisions would have been interesting to hear about too. I'm personally still wondering if all the people at the politician's office wearing pink is used to represent how close to the bloody red violence all of them almost experienced at the Columbus Circle rally, along with a myriad of other thoughts. I don't mean to disparage Scorsese, De Niro, and everyone else for not digging deeper in their discussion (or for even saying what exactly inspired them to make this movie); I really did love seeing all of them together and listening to them talk, but Julia and I both left the theater with a mixed feeling like it was nothing more than a vanity event for all involved, and the pleasure we got from watching the movie.

Are there any filmsperiences you've had and loved? Let me know below.