Even if you know this one, go again: A new movie awaits you. Last week, at a charity screening of this dreamlike restoration (complete with a still-cruddy Columbia logo), screenwriter Paul Schrader cut to the chase: "It's just a guy in his room writing in his diary." Every crack in the wall of Travis Bickle's sad little apartment is now razor-sharp: every Coke can, every Quarter Pounder wrapper and piece of junk-food detritus. It's a cage. And as the sounds of a sweltering New York summer seep in, you can sense a brain cooking.
Schrader and Scorsese put the cage on wheels, as a yellow cab in which Travis seethes at all the other night animals, unaware of his place in the kingdom. Watching Taxi Driver now, some 35 years after its premiere at the Beekman Theatre here in town, you will not feel nostalgia. This isn't a nice New York City, nor are these nice New Yorkers---even Jodie Foster's softheaded Iris and Cybill Shepherd's fantasy object feel harsher. Rather (and never so strongly for this viewer), the movie plays like a cosmic tragedy of immaturity. It's as if someone made Jaws, but told us the shark was our hero.