I had a very intense “Taxi Driver” phase during my college years, in which I watched the De Niro/Scorsese/Paul Schrader masterpiece about a zillion times.
There’s so much to enjoy about that movie. I loved the score. I loved De Niro blowing it with Cybill Sheppard by taking her to a porno movie. I loved De Niro getting a Mohawk, which was the visual cue that he was about to finally blow his stack. I loved Harvey Keitel getting his fingers blown off. If you were a young man full of aggression and utterly lacking in any sort of girlfriend, “Taxi Driver” was quite the soothing balm.
So when rumors flew up earlier this week that the movie was possibly going to be remade, my inner teenage punk was having an extremely difficult time comprehending that. Especially since the remake was apparently being driven by Danish director Lars von Trier, who has somehow made a career out of directing unwatchable movies and getting others to remake perfectly good movies with pointless constraints. The rumor was he wanted to do the same with Scorsese's opus, but Screen Daily mercifully debunks it all.
Their encounter provoked a flurry of speculation in the Danish media about a potential collaboration between the two directors. It has been speculated that von Trier was going to have Scorsese re-do Taxi Driver, putting hurdles in his way as he had done with Jorgen Leth in The Five Obstructions.
Zentropa sources have been busy denying the rumours. “I have seen it [the story] in the Danish film magazine and what is written there is not true,” von Trier’s business partner Peter Aalbaek Jensen told Screen.
Jensen confirmed the directors had met at the Berlinale but said rumours von Trier wanted to re-make Taxi Driver were “rubbish.”
And thank goodness for that. This is filmmaking. It’s not boxing. You don’t remake “Taxi Driver” just because some cabbage-eating hack from Copenhagen demands it. “Taxi Driver” is already a perfect film. Really. It’s brilliant. It needs nothing added to it. It doesn’t need revisiting, particularly now that Robert De Niro can’t act anymore. I’ve seen perfect films remade before. Gus Van Sant redid “Psycho” once. It was worse than polio. So consider this a bullet dodged. And if you've never seen "Taxi Driver," update your Netflix queue right now.