Taxi Driver (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9.5
(OUT OF 10)
I get a little angry when new home-video formats come out. I had all kinds of VHS tapes ... which are now worth dog spit. I owned a LaserDisc player, perhaps the single dumbest purchase of my life. Now my DVD collection is rapidly diminishing, replaced by Blu-ray discs, which I am sure will be obsolete within 10 years.
Still, with each new format, we get nice new releases for films like this, Martin Scorsese's best. Robert De Niro owned it as Travis Bickle, the loneliest man in the world, driving the overnight taxi shift in New York City. Written by Paul Schrader, this remains one of the more frightening examinations of a murderer and what makes him tick.
De Niro threw in so many brilliant little nuances, making Bickle somebody you wish you could like, although that would be ill-advised. I love how Bickle hesitates, and even sounds a little frightened, when he tells the dispatcher about his military service during the opening-scene interview. From the tone of his voice and the way he holds his head, De Niro lets us know that Bickle is very damaged goods.
Of course, the film has never looked better. Yes, I whine a bit about new formats, but you should gladly pay good money to have this film look so good on your home screen.
As this film celebrates its 35th anniversary, John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot Ronald Reagan partially as a result of his obsession with this movie, is getting serious consideration for more freedom. That, to me, is pure evidence of a severely flawed justice system. If you take shots at the president, you should go to jail for life, and I don't care which doctor says you were a little insane at the time.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Finally, after many years of waiting, you get the original Martin Scorsese commentary, recorded in 1986 for a LaserDisc version. Scorsese discussing individual shots and motivations equals total geek bliss. You also get a more current Schrader commentary, as well as one from a film scholar. That would be enough for me, but it doesn't stop there: You get an extensive new interview with Scorsese, more producer and writer interviews, a fantastic interactive script feature and much more.
Little Fockers (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES C-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 1.75
(OUT OF 10)
Shortly after I removed Taxi Driver from my Blu-ray player, this one arrived on my doorstep. There is no sadder cinematic exercise than watching classic De Niro and then chasing it with shit like this.
I remember when I first heard De Niro and Stiller would be joining forces for the original Meet the Parents. At the time, both were movie gods, as far as I was concerned, and the original film delivered the goods. But Meet the Fockers started a steep downhill trend that has hopefully bottomed out with this swill.
De Niro's character has devolved into something completely unfunny, a sadistic travesty of a man; now he just makes me uncomfortable. And Stiller has become a parody of himself in these movies, displaying all of his little comedic tics like a desperately flailing Woody Allen.
Both men are still capable of greatness. De Niro has had some promising performances in the last few years, and Stiller did Tropic Thunder, a movie that showcased his comic strengths as an actor and a director. I wish, oh God I wish, that these two talented guys would call it quits on crap like this. Hell, I would love to see them really work together. They should find a joint project with brains, and show the world what they are capable of.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a "hilarious" gag reel (yeah, right), an alternate opening and ending, deleted scenes and making-of stuff. None of these are worth your time.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8.75
(OUT OF 10)
This is one of the more interesting film projects ever undertaken: Stanley Kubrick dies, leaving behind a movie idea that Steven Spielberg picks up; he pens a screenplay and directs the film. (Actually, it's a little strange that Kubrick didn't get a writing credit for this project, but he wasn't around to fight for it.)
While Haley Joel Osment irritated me before this film, his work in this movie—as an android boy looking for human companionship—is one of the best child performances I've ever seen. He is beyond incredible, and even though he is struggling in his post-puberty career, he's always got this one to look back on.
There are so many visual wonderments in this film, including a post-apocalyptic New York and the robotic teddy bear. Most of all, it's a fine display of Spielberg doing sci-fi, something that he does better than anybody.
And ... oh yeah ... I really like the ending.
SPECIAL FEATURES: There are making-of documentaries aplenty, and a segment featuring Spielberg discussing why he took on A.I.