Martin Scorsese's gritty 'Taxi Driver' tops list of latest Blu-rays

by Doug Nye

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

5 April 2011


The powerful psychological drama “Taxi Driver” leads this week’s lineup of new Blu-ray titles.

Deftly directed by Martin Scorsese, “Taxi Driver 35th Anniversary Edition” (Sony, 1976, $24.95) explores the mental anguish of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a traumatized Vietnam War veteran. He tries to find companionship with Betsy (Cybil Shepherd), a U.S. senator’s campaign worker. Bickle asks her out and takes her to a porn movie. Not surprisingly, she wants nothing more to do with him.

Bickle, who suffers from insomnia, takes a night job as a cab driver. One night he picks up a 12-year-old prostitute named Iris (played by then 13-year-old Jodie Foster). He decides to save her from such a life by rescuing her from a pimp named Sport (Harvey Keitel).

De Niro is outstanding in a performance, and a film, that you won’t soon forget. Also in the cast are Albert Brooks and Peter Boyle. Highly recommended.

Other Blu-ray releases:

“Tron: The Original Classic” (Walt Disney, 1982, $39.99): Jeff Bridges stars in this pioneering film that put a new spin on the then-fledgling video game industry. Flynn (Bridges) is beamed inside a game he is working on and becomes a part of a stunning digital world. Also featuring Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner and Cindy Morgan. Includes standard DVD version.

“Tron: Legacy” (Walt Disney, 2010, $39.99): So whatever happened to Flynn? Jeff Bridges returns to the role almost 30 years later. In this one, he sends out a signal from his digital world. His son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) discovers the signal and sets out on a quest to find his long-lost father. Dazzling special effects. Includes standard DVD version. Also available in 3-D at $49.99.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” (Lionsgate, 2010, $39.99): Jim Carrey shines as Steven Russell, an accomplished con artist among other things, in this film based on a true story. Russell, a small-town businessman, became one of the most wanted men in Texas because of his brilliant con schemes and prison escapes. On four separate occasions, Russell managed to escape from the Texas prison system. He did it all to impress a man named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

“Fiddler on the Roof” (MGM/UA, 1971, $29.99): This film adaptation of the popular 1964 Broadway musical won three Academy Awards and was nominated for several others. Topol stars as Tevye, a milkman who is having to cope with changes in his life. The biggest change has to do with his daughters, who don’t want to take the traditional Jewish route to land a husband. The story takes place in Tsarist Russia of 1905.

“Babe” (Universal, 1995, $26.98): James Cromwell plays Farmer Hoggett, who gives Babe, a shy Yorkshire piglet, a new lease on life after he wins him at the county fair. Living at the Hoggett farm, Babe discovers he can be anything he wants to be — even an award-winning sheepdog (no joke). He gets plenty of help and advice from his barnyard friends. Recommended.

“Arthur/Arthur 2 on the Rocks” (Warner Brothers, 1981, 1988, $19.98): Dudley Moore plays a happy drunk who has no ambition other than to enjoy life. He is also in line to inherit a fortune. These two films are being issued on Blu-ray to coincide with the release of a new screen version of “Arthur.”

“Scream” (Lionsgate, 1996, $19.99): Director Wes Craven has turned this into a successful film franchise. In this original, a masked killer torments his victims with phone calls and movie references. Among the cast members are Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore and Henry Winkler. Also available are “Scream 2” (1997, $19,99) and “Scream 3” (2000).

“Little Fockers” (Universal, 2010): In this sequel to “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers,” Ben Stiller is back as Greg Focker. He’s still trying to impress his ex-CIA father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro). But how will Greg handle new additions to the family such as kids? The cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel.

“The Cove” (Lionsgate, 2009, $19.98): This documentary exposes the horrors of the international dolphin trade. Former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry and an elite team of free divers embark upon a mission to penetrate a hidden cove in Japan. That’s where they discover the horrors. “The Cove” won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2009.

“Still Waiting” (Lionsgate, 2008, $19.98): This sequel to the outrageous “Waiting” follows the lives of the wait staff at Shenaniganz restaurant two years later. The restaurant is facing stiff competition from the new Ta-Ta’s Wing Shack next door. The fast food war is on. John Michael Higgins, Rob Benedict and Steve Howey lead the cast.

“The Rules of Attraction” (Lionsgate, 2002, $19.98): Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) is a womanizing drug dealer who becomes involved in the lives of some of Camden College’s wildest students. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis. This is described as darkly funny satire of life, love and the pursuit of social debauchery.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (20th Century Fox, 2010, $24.99) Siblings Lucy (George Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Heynes) and their cousin Eustace (Will Porter) are swept into a painting and back to the time of Narnia. Aboard the great ship The Dawn Treader they travel to mysterious lands and encounter huge creatures.

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