My point is that if Norman Rockwell painted your sister it would be a simple-minded painting of “americana.” If Rembrandt painted it it would be too complex to be reduced to a simple analysis.
“All my life I’ve fought against clarity – all those stupid definitive answers. Phooey on a formula life, on slick solutions. I’t never easy…I wont call my work entertainment. It’s exploring. It’s asking questions of people…A good movie will ask you questions you haven’t been asked before. – Cassavetes
Regardless of whatever else he said, Cassavetes films were never about one simple thing. Scorcese made his stuff simple, the Hollywood way.
Scorcese, Kubrick, Spielberg, Coppola, DePalma…when it comes to Cassavetes, They. Cannot. Touch. Him.
@Mike: I was just messing with you about the quotes, but I still see a distinction between Cassavette’s two statements. His subject it seems is love but his approach eschews formula and slick solutions. It’s the approach that gives him complexity rather than his subjects.
You won’t find me defending Rockwell as a great artist, but I see your point. An artist shouldn’t stare into
the abyss and flinch.
I don’t see some of those other filmmakers offering slick solutions in every one of their films, but many of them are primarily seeking to entertain.
Are you saying that complexity can only be acheived through the presentation of reality or can abstraction (like Pierce’s The Back Stairs) also produce great art and complexity?
Scorsese, Kubrick, and Coppola, are grouped with Spielberg and DePalma, all as directors who just make simple films for entertainment? Give me a break.
And also its Scorsese not Scorcese.
I agree with drew
these guys do not make simple entertainments (except spielberg); they have complex films, some of which could not possibly have been made to entertain.
I disgree with one point if someone is worth criticizing why bother spelling there name right?
Seriously though, I was mainly speaking in comparison with Cassavetes.
Complexity can be reached through abstraction of imagery but not abstraction of emotions. Also, I hate to nitpick (lol) but i don’t think his subject was love. He didn’t always articulate himself perfectly but i would say he was generalizing his themes with that statement. He possibly did that to draw a distinction between his work and that of some of his more cynical contemporaries. Work that seems similar but where you can tell the filmmakers hate their characters and humanity in general.
But as complex as Cassavetes is, I do not think the others are simple. Obviously they are much different than he, but do you really think they are all simple Hollywood filmmakers?
@Mike: what do you mean “abstraction of emotions”? Do you just mean simpleminded or are you talking about performance or what? Like I can see Bresson using performance by his actors in a non-realistic abstract way, simplifying them into what his critics call “wooden” to great effect.
Regarding my quote mining, I will defer to your judgment :-). I’m no Cassavetes expert but am a big admirer
I am referring to the Hollywood manner of determining exactly the way a character and viewer “feel” in a systematic way through lighting, music, use of close-ups, etc. Their “focus” removes the bumpiness and ramshackle way that real experience presents itself. Art should get us out of our heads and allow us to see that regardless of the way one character feels every other person in their world is feeling and expressing different emotions at the same time. It’s a subtle thing but Bresson’s “wooden” performances and Lynch’s exploration of the awkwardness of bodies are miles apart in maturity. Bresson being on the adult side.
I don’t mean to say that Scorsese is the same as Bay. I do think he follows the hollywood model more closely than many notice or admit because his themes are “controversial.” Scorsese is still “telling a good story” in the manner those who don’t get Cassavetes mean when they criticize him for not telling a good story. He is still using music to heighten specific emotions rather than allowing the viewer to feel whatever they want. He is still allowing characters to make speeches rather than cutting them off mid-sentence with another perspective. he is still obsessed with the “darkness” while mainstream Hollywood is obsessed with the light, thereby indirectly making his films as simple in their “darkness” as the others are with their light. The King of Comedy, maybe my favorite of his films, is still kind of simpleminded. Pupkin is just nuts. Despite what many think, Mabel in A Woman Under The Influence can’t be reduced to being simply nut (if you pay close attention to what he is doing) the way Pupkin can. I know he is making a separate statement about our obsession with the media that some might see as complex but I see it as pretty simple, just nicely presented in it’s craftsmanship. Life is messy, Cassavetes is messy. Scorsese is too controlled and classical to be messy, or lifelike.
Hmm…strokes chin thoughtfully…I think I understand…I think :-)
Well, i am going to go drink a lot of beer now so have a good new year!!!
I think I am going to be the first on this thread to say I completely admire Travis Bickle and all his actions on Taxi Driver. He is a man who does exactly what he feels like doing, and I think the world should have more people like him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating violence toward others in soceity, I’m merely saying that Travis Bickle doesn’t let soceity’s hypocritic values weigh him down. They do, for the first part of the film. Travis Bickle is not a lonely man, I believe he has chosen a life of solitude. He can be social and charming enough to pick up Cybil Shepard for a date if he wanted to, but for the most part, he keeps his opinions to himself. Travis Bickle is a Vietnam War veteran, and he is a man who uses his body and his strengh, he would’ve been perfect in the nineteenth century, when men really worked for a living; however, he has resorted to becoming a taxi driver, a perfect example of the modern man. He makes believe he is in the driver’s seat of his own life, but he is really only going where other people tell him to go. Reminds of the lyrics of John Lennon: “They keep you doped with religon, sex, and TV, and you think you’re so clever, classless, and free, but you’re still fucking peasants as far as I see.” And I think the point where Travis decides to start living his own life is where Pallantine tells him that the country needs some radical change. This is a politician, a future president, giving him the okay to be radical, just like his former commander in chief giving him and his military buddies the okay to go kick some Commie ass. Martin Scorsese’s cameo merely reinforces his decision to live life the way he wants to, because Scorsese’s character is your average guy, but he is true and open about his feelings. He loves his wife very much, and his strongly dislikes black people, especially those who are banging his wife. Again, I’m not advocating racism, but I do support everyone’s rights to their own way of living, and if a person doesn’t like a particular race, I don’t see anything wrong with that (I’m of the philosophy that the only sin in this life is to not be true to oneself). So what does Travis do? He becomes true to himself. He is a soldier, a warrior, a vigilante. He killed the fellow in the convenience store because he was robbing it, not because he was black. He kills Harvey Keitel, not because he was black in the script, but because he was a pimp and a pedophile. We’re all probably the same people who put down pedophiles in real life and say those monsters should be buried in a deep pit, but when Travis Bickle finally does kill someone who is harming and disturbing a kid, we call him a psychopath, we say Travis is lonely and disturbed and needs help. The hypocrisy here is ugly. I’m reminded of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest here, a great example of how soceity has led these poor souls to believe that they’re insane when they really aren’t more crazy than the average asshole on the street. Brad Dourif’s character is a disturbed stutterer, not because of his shortcomings, but because of the grip of his mother and Louise Fletcher. They represent authority and “social values” and RP McMurphy represents a real man, someone who lives according to his desires. When he convinces Brad Dourif to forget about the rules and sleep with the hooker, his stutter goes away. The man is cured! When the nurse reinstates the social grip the next morning, he becomes disturbed again, so much so that he kills himself. This is the principle of Fight Club, man’s dilemmna in modern time. If we sit around in front of the boob tube, or a taxi cab, watching life go on around us, can we really call ourselves human? Can we truly respect ourselves if we repress our emotions and desires and become goody two shoes. I try every day to live my life to the fullest, according to my desires, and although I’ve never had the desire to kill a person, I’ve had the desire to get into a fight with disagreeable assholes. And I fought them, did I always win the fight? No, I’ve had my ass kicked a few times, but I’m healthier and happier because I didn’t keep it pent up. When I think a girl is beautiful and I would like to go out with her, I tell her. Have I been rejected? Hell yeah, and it doesn’t feel good, but it’s better than keeping my feelings locked up. I think I’ll never have any psychological problems in my life, like homicidal thoughts, because I express my emotions. I fight, I fuck, life is good. I quit my job in today’s economic crisis, some of my friends think I’m a complete idiot for doing so, but I didn’t like it, I despised my job, my co-workers, and my boss. I go to school because I feel like learning, and I’m majoring in journalism because it’s what I want to do (and I was partly inspired by Hunter S. Thompson). I think Travis Bickle is A-OK, and if he did have a psychological problem, it was in the beginning when he was a quiet conformist who sat in front of the TV, letting his body get weak, killing himself slowly, that’s crazy.
“We’re all probably the same people who put down pedophiles in real life and say those monsters should be buried in a deep pit, but when Travis Bickle finally does kill someone who is harming and disturbing a kid,”
Hmm, isn’t the pedophile just another guy who “does exactly what he feels like doing” under your philosophy?
Possibly, but the film doesn’t focus on Sport, it focuses on Travis. Who knows,maybe Sport was sexually abused as a kid and has never come to terms with it. He feels wretched everyday of his life and has conformed to the lifestyle of a junkie and a pedophile. I don’t know his backstory, none of do. We only know Travis’ and can really only relate to him, afterall, the story is about him.
But is Travis A-OK because he kills bad people or would he still be ok in your book if he had killed innocents? If at the end he had also killed Foster and Shepherd but had thereby gotten over his earlier weakness would he still be ok?
I think if he had killed innocents, such as Foster and Shepard, it would have been true mental illness, another victim of the times. But the fact that he doesn’t blindly kill them reinforces the fact that he’s a righteous vigilante, like all the superheroes we looked up to in our youth. Although the film is fantasy and these characters never really existed, let’s stick to the facts. Travis didn’t kill Foster or Shepard, and he didn’t kill the candidate because he knew that Pallantine was an OK guy.
He didn’t kill Pallantine because he was stopped by the secret service. If he had the opportunity to do so, he would have, and his newspaper clippings would have been quite different.
I refuse to believe a man as determined as Travis would be stopped by a few measly secret service men, it never stopped a presidential assassin in the past. Just look back on how many times he was shot in the showdown at the whorehouse. If being shot didn’t destroy Travis’ determination, why would the threat of being shot destroy it?