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The worst 'Taxi Driver' in Ireland today?

As crackdown on corruption and criminality in the taxi industry begins, the Irish Film Institute is showing reruns of psycho Travis Bickle on the big screen…

POSSIBLY THE MOST notorious taxi driver to get behind the wheel of a car is making an appearance in Dublin city centre tonight.

Never fear – you don’t have to go along for the ride… Travis Bickle, the psychotic anti-hero of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, is getting a big-screen outing tonight at the Irish Film Institute.

The IFI plans its movie schedule sometimes months in advance – and the 1976 movie is currently being reissued worldwide for its 35th anniversary. So it’s just a coincidence that Taxi Driver is showing the same week that public and political debate has raged over corruption and criminality in parts of the taxi industry.

TheJournal.ie reported yesterday that Alan Kelly, junior minister at the Department of Transport, met with the National Transport Authority in the wake of Monday night’s shocking RTE Prime Time Investigates into the taxi industry. The programme had exposed a number of dangerous and illegal practices in the sector including exhausted drivers double-jobbing, illegal transfer of licences, and seriously defective vehicles being passed through the NCT system in exchange for cash bribes.

Travis Bickle, a New York taxi driver who descends into a murderous psychosis, is one of cinema’s most enduring icons. Philip French, veteran critic of The Observer, called him “a paranoid loner driving his cab through an infernal New York”. Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice called him “the essentially American figure”:

Bickle remains an authentic everyman, a walking dumb-as-shot smashup of conservative responses, but also a disenfranchised victim of the corporate-imperial combine, an ex-soldier used to meaningless death, lost in the streets of his own empty freedom.

Yikes.

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