Ruth Barron: Be kind? So what? You don’t think I’m kind.
PJ Waters: *Shakes head no*
Ruth Barron: Oh, God. Now I feel sick. Why didn’t you just write “cruel”?
PJ Waters: Hey, come on.
Ruth Barron: No, you’re right. Be kind. . .that’s the whole point. Thank you. I’m very grateful. That is it, isn’t it? The only thing. The Dalai Lama said it. . .kindness. Do you know what I’m really scared of?
PJ Waters: What?
Ruth Barron: Don’t tell anyone.
PJ Waters: No.
Ruth Barron: Despite all my strong feelings, I’m heartless.
A lot has been written about this film by people who know it a lot better than I do, so I’m gonna preface this by saying what I want to do with this piece is not a full analysis of the film, but rather snippets of thoughts and ideas that ran through my head when I watched it Thursday last at the Castro Theatre. I first saw Taxi Driver when I was about 15 (I rented it on VHS and I did not tell my parents) and I don’t think I really understood what I was watching. Really, going into the screening on Thursday, all I remembered from the film was the scene where Robert De Niro takes Cybill Shepherd to the porno theater. That was the first time I ever saw porn. Needless to say, it was shocking. Believe it or not, that was the only time I’d seen the film before this last time. So I have only seen it twice now. I’m guessing it’s a movie that gets richer each time you watch it, much like my favorite Scorsese film, 1985’s criminally under-seen After Hours. I would also like to mention that 1976 is a year where I can’t really say I wish one film beat another film. For me, it’s a year where all of the nominees are so important and so different, that choosing just one seems like a disservice. Well, four of them, anyway, as I have not yet seen Bound For Glory. Although Taxi Driver won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival, it received only four Academy Award nominations and failed to win in any of the categories: Best Picture, Best Actor Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actress Jodie Foster and Best Original Score. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Network and winner Rocky.
I saw The Piano for the first time about a year ago after I’d seen Campion’s most recent film Bright Star, which I unabashedly love, and decided I needed to see her “masterpiece.” While I liked Bright Star more, I think it’s mostly because of the sentiments expressed in the latter. I definitely think The Piano is one of the best films I have ever seen and Holly Hunter gives a show-stopping performance. The film won the Palme d’Or and Best Performance prizes at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Jane Campion became only the second woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three: Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actress Anna Paquin (won), Best Actress Holly Hunter (won), Best Director and Best Picture. It was up against The Fugitive, In The Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day and winner Schindler’s List.