HeyUGuys bumped into an old friend on our journey home tonight. We exchanged civilities and they asked the inevitable question “what have you been up to?” “Well,” we replied “actually we’ve been watching a film in a Soho car park”. And do you know what faithful readers – we spoke the truth. This evening our friends at Jameson Cult Film Club screened Taxi Driver in quite the most eccentrically cool environment we have ever had the privilege to inhabit. The Brewer Street Car Park played host to rather a unique cinema where gamblers, hustlers, hookers and film fans could experience the breakdown of Travis Bickle with a Jameson Manhattan in their hand and a big smile on their face!
Attendees rounded a sloping bend on the upper level of the parking garage to the mournful sounds of a saxophone and were greeted by a cigarette girl handing out American dollars to squander on drinks and games of dice. A yellow cab bisected the vast room and newsstands pronounced the 8th February 1976 to be the day ‘hero taxi driver’ Travis Bickle had been released from his long hospital stay. The drinks were as long as the working girl’s skirts were brief and the scene was set for one hell of a party.
Jameson Cult Film Club’s curator Riz Ahmed took to the stage to introduce the movie – one of his personal favourites. When we caught up with the Four Lions star before Taxi Driver began he told us that he loves Travis because he so utterly embodies the spirit of an anti-hero. He spoke with a wide grin about his fondness for “weirdoes” and how the underdog story is one of the best that film can tell. He echoed those words for the cult film club audience when he lauded such “alternative stories” for encouraging the next generation of UK film makers. He declared that given a choice between seeing a film in 3D or a film with JCFC…he’d take the cult over the big blue smurfs every time!
Next to the stage was Travis Bickle himself to tell us about his future vision for the city: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
His intensity was hypnotic and I lost myself in his eyes. For a moment it was just me and Mr Bickle, he looking at me, me looking at him. There was no one else there. When the lights went down and the credits rolled his vision was finally realised. The falling rain he had prophesised was eclipsed by the more lurid spray of blood but Travis Bickle – taxi driver, insomniac and angry young man – rained upon them good!
The next Jameson Cult Film Club screening takes place in Liverpool on October 28th. The club returns to the capital for its Chills in the Chapel season at Union Chapel commencing on October 29th with Quatermass and the Pit. Visit the JCFC Box Office for further details.