A Classic Revisited

taxi Driver.
When “Taxi Driver” came out in 1976 it caused a veritable shit- storm in the media. It also had a profound affect on audiences. Hell, it had a pretty profound effect on me, when I was old enough to see it, in 1983 or so. As time passed, “Taxi Driver” actuallybecame evenmore influential, it had true staying power. This review is my attempt to show the true value of “Taxi Driver”- and hopefully, why it deserves your serious attention today- forty-six years after it was made.

On the surface, “Taxi Driver” is a very gritty, very film noir investigation of the inner mental life of a war veteran who has been turned into a psychopath by his service in Vietnam. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) has a variety of personal issues mostly centred around sexual guilt and disgust. He is simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by the seamy sexual underbelly of New York which he sees every night in his work as a taxi driver. He becomes obsessed by a United States Senator he sees in a compromising position one night in the back seat of his cab and, while stalking the senator sees one of the campaign workers, a beautiful blonde ice-maiden, Betsy (Cybill Shepard). Betsy seems to personify for him everything that he craves, beauty, innocence, demure sexuality. He places her on an unrealistic pedestal in his mind but His attempts to woo her are shambolic and largely unsuccessful, so he seems to switch targets, determining to assassinate the senator who he,(probably justifiably ) perceives as a rival to Betsy’s affections, while simultaneously viewing him as morally dubious and unworthy of office.

In the midst of this, while he is driving late one night, Travis has a chance encounter with a street prostitute, “Easy”(Jodie Foster). He is shocked to the core by how young she is and instantly switches targets and becomes a knight in shining armour determining to rescue “Easy” at all costs, and return her to midwest family values and what he sees as moral acceptability, by which we can assume that he is a good country boy driven crazy by the war and morally reacting to the lax moral values of the big city folk who were by inference, probably responsible for starting it. He is, in short, a right wing poster boy and the pointy end of a double edged sword that speared the mainstream media.

On one hand, Travis Bickle is the perfect anti-hero to massage the sensitive areas of radio shock jocks to full attention. The problem though is that Bickle, frightened off from his Senatorial assassination plans, switches to a far softer target – the bawdy house where he imagines Easy is held against her will. His house cleaning is an explosion of ultra-violent mass murder that perversely, no shock jock can publicly condone. It’s rather funny to think about; the self-righteous mouthpieces of family values who would, every night on the radio, rail against the same perceived moral rot and social decay that Travis Bickle hates, having to distance themselves from him publicly and loudly reject his methods, no matter how much they might privately agree with them.

As a side note, Terry Gilliam’s film “The Fisher King” directly addresses this issue, with a radio talkback host joking that Yuppies should be shot – a joke that results in a bloodbath, the DJ losing his job and taking to suicidal drinking.

It was something of a wonder that “Taxi Driver” did not cause a worldwide string of DJ explosions, as, overpowered by warring impulses they actually found themselves having to shut up for their own job security and instantly exploded from the internal pressure.

They was one person who had no such inhibitions however, and John Hinkley’s response to the film is the stuff of legend. Though not much is known about Hinkley’s mental state at the time, a lot can be guessed by the fact that he seems to have identified with Travis Bickle, to an unhealthy extent and the fact that he fell in love with Jodie Foster’s character on the screen and fallen in love with her. Hinkley immediately set about stalking the real world Jodie Foster, and developed the theory that she was ignoring him because he was unimportant. Being an assassin might get her to regard his great love more weightily. While no-one is sure why Hinkley picked Ronald Reagan specifically, a his assassination was as big a botch as Travis Bickle’s attack on the bawdy house, where it is never truly clear who the intended target is and which only really results in a profoundly traumatised young girl, too shocked and grief-stricken to be “rescued” from a place she seems worryingly happy to be “imprisoned” in. Two things are certain. “Easy” regards Bickle’s gory rescue attempt as a highly unwelcome intrusion into her comparatively placid life, and Hinkley only wounded the President, with a bullet that ricocheted off the Limousine. He did however wound three others, one whom died 33 years later, from the .22 calibre bullet that lodged in his Spine during the attack.

The final coda of “Taxi Driver” has it that Bickle lives, Easy/Iris is returned to her rightful place in the God-fearing Midwest and to the waiting arms of her thankful parents who are so voluble in their thanks that Travis Bickle, far from getting a long stretch in prison for mass murder, is elevated to the status of local hero, gets his 15 minutes of fame in the papers, and goes back to driving a cab. One night Betsy gets into his taxi, but he is no longer interested in her.

John Hinkley Jnr was released from a secure mental ward in 2016.

“Taxi Driver many, many, re-watchings, stimulating different thoughts and reactions each time, which is the hallmark of a true classic, and a work of art

(c) Copyright 2022 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved.


all timeThe ten Most Underrated novels of

The ten most UNDER-rated novels

This piece is (obviously) a bookend to the Most Over-rated novels article and should at least form a kind of “Ten books you should read before you die.” If you’ve read all of them, I hope they’ve made you as happy as they did me. If I inspire you to read one of them, either for the first time, or again, you will have made me very happy, for reading, while on the face of it, is a solitary activity, it is at its very base, a sharing of consciousness, and if this sharing expands beyond the original, writer / reader paradigm, it gains vastly in strength and power. If you don’t believe me, take those “ultra-memes,” The Bible and the Koran and realise that it was simply word-of-mouth, paid advertising and reader recommendations that made them the commercial success stories that they are today.
Which is not of course to say that the following list of brilliant books are as top-heavy with profound wisdom, diet plans and handy life style hints.

#1[1984 (George Orwell)].
This utterly remarkable workis, in my opinion, highon the shortlist for finest novel ever written. It foretells a dystopian society where an autocratic government rules with a mixture of total electronic surveillance, total control of public discourse and extreme ultra-violence. When Orwell wrote the book it was seen as science fiction, now that the year 1984 is passed, it can be recognised as documentary since the human race has successfully created several versions of Orwell’s nightmare vision, on Earth, for real. Cesceseau’s Romania certainly fit the bill, and Cold War Russia made a good attempt at creating the state without the technology. Present day China appears to have been created as a state by using Orwell’s work as a handbook, in exactly the way that the forces of decency and righteousness have adopted it as something between a sacred text and a rallying flag. It is a book so good it should be compulsory. Read it, or read it again, watch your government closely

2[ “Animal Farm” (George Orwell)]
Either the most pessimistic book ever written, or the most realistic and truthful, depending on your emotional makeup. The book tells the story of a standard British farm, told through the eyes of the animals. On the face of the evidence the animals realise that they are being horribly exploited by the humans and rebel against them. Over the course of the book the animals turn the farm into a self sustaining society, no longer run to attract external profit, but simply to feed the animals. At first this new society is almost a paradise, but soon power corrupts the political structure, infighting results and before long the new society has become almost a carbon copy of the one that it replaced.
The book was originally written as a brutal satire of events surrounding the 1917 revolution in Russia, which started well and then became corrupt, rotted and was taken over and turned into an autocracy headed by Josef Stalin that was very much worse than the Tsarist system the initial revolution had replaced.
While the book was written as a kind of club to beat the Soviet Union with, the truth contained within it is very much deeper, and nastier than that. Any popular revolution, it implies, will quickly collapse into the something like the system it replaced under the weight of some sort mixture of built-in stupidity and baseline corruption. The Populist French revolution of 1789 produced a dynasty of emperors, the Cuban revolution produced Castro. Putin owes his position to the reverberations of the 1917 revolution. Trotsky>Lenin> Stalin> Scum followed by the second revolution. It is hard to imagine what Chairman Mao would have made of the present situation in China but it’d be a fair guess to say he’d have mixed feelings. Would America’s founding fathers be happy with the plutocracy the place has become? I bet they wouldn’t.
“Animal Farm” is an utterly good book, deceptively simple to a cursory examination, deeper than a coal mine if you try getting your hands dirty. Roll your sleeves up and get into it, you won’t be disappointed.
*Copyright (C) Alex Rieneck 2021 All rights reserved.

3**[”The Great Gatsby” (F Scott Fitzgerald)]
This book is commonly accepted to be just about the apogee of American Literature, and its pretty easy to see why. In its short length it crams in just about everything – in divine balanced prose. At its heart “The Great Gatsby” is pure U.S “Money Porn”( a work dealing with the pleasure of money and wealth) and an expose of the soft rotten core of the monied classes in the United States during the “Roaring Twenties” – right after the carnage of WW1 (which left the U.S mostly untouched) – a rotten core which was to lead directly the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great depression.

To quote Fitzgerald, ‘But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which endlessly drift over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.’ ‘But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood over the solemn dumping ground.’
Eckleburg looks down on the passing traveller as if they are riding in a toy train through the orange sunset to a existentially uncertain destination.
The central plot of “Gatsby” is ultimately not nearly as important as the broad brush strokes of the books background, Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan is a stinking rich example of septic old money – and an entrenched racist, exactly the kind of individual who bankrolled the early st of Hitler’s career. The Zeitgeist of the nineteen-twenties suffuses the book, with the obvious inference that the huge eyes of Doctor Eckleburg, which watch over the ash-heap of the past, must be seen as obviously Jewish eyes and (presumably) responsible for the war and, by extension, everything else. Such attitudes were common at the time. Of course neither Fitzgerald or T.S Eliot had any idea in the 1920’s how odious their anti Semitic views would become scarcely a decade later when Hitler’s holocaust made the civilised world abandon any form of anti-semitism as repugnant and thoroughly disgraceful and poisoned many readers reactions to “Gatsby” and some TS Eliot.) Still “Gatsby” is a product of its time, and its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, leaving it as one of the pinnacles of twentieth Century Literature.*

4 [The Day of The Locust (Nathanael West)]
A largely forgotten classic , “The Day of The Locust” is an effective ‘bookend’ work – wallowing in the rancid core of Los Angeles in contrast to “Gatsby’s” New York.
“Locust” is set in the proletarian end of the film industry, among the dirt-poor bit players, movie odd-jobbers and less easily classified hangers on of the industry, who have been attracted like moths to a light by the glamour and the possibility of money the industry promises. Where”Gatsby’s” characters have so much money they have lost the understanding of how to spend it, in “Locust” the characters have been attracted to the city by a kind of wordless need that has remained unfulfilled for so long that it has curdled, rotted, and in many cases made the characters malignant. Todd Hackett lives and works in this society, as a lower- level scenery artist for one of the studios. Todd once had plans to be a “real” artist but has sold them out to work as a commercial illustrator. Todd sees, and falls in lust/love with a girl who happens to live close by.-Faye Greener is a struggling bit part player in any studio that will have her. She is a girl of reasonably lax, tropical morals, but she is not interested in Todd. The book is interwoven with highly visual hallucinatory passages where Todd considers his masterwork-to-be; a huge painting that exposes all the iniquities of Los Angeles and its population of pointless human caricatures against a backdrop of an armageddon of flaming destruction. It appears that Todd’s visions are prophetic rather than purely artistic since the climax of the book encompasses just such events. Closing the prophetic circle, during these events Todd has gone quite mad. “The Day of the Locust” is, perhaps in keeping with its setting, quite a lurid novel, and also given its characters, a work that tends towards melodrama. However both these themess in tandem tend to make the book into a kind of beautiful iridescent fun that is all too rare in this world. The film, with Donald Sutherland as the hapless Homer Simpson (yes I know) – but the book dates from 1939, 16years before Matt Groening (creator of “The Simpsons”) was born. However in my opinion the film suffers badly from the lack of Nathanael West’s vivid prose and continual insights into the human condition. Very Highly Recommended.

5[Fata Morgana” by William Kotzwinkle. ]
Iridescent, hallucinogenic magic-realism does not get any better than this. In my opinion this book stands equal tp Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow” – and packs a very similar punch into a far lower page count. Which is not to discount Pynchon’s masterpiece, however I must say that after reading “Gravity’s Rainbow”, I actually felt as if I might have damaged my brain, whereas halfway through reading “Fata Morgana” for the second time I realised that I had read it before – and not dreamt scenes of it the night before, in my sleep.
This book is the rarest magic.

6[”My Brother Jack” (George Johnston)]
A reasonably easy choice for the best book I’ve ever read “My Brother Jack” is basically the life story of David Meredith, a simulacrum of the author – if you look at the book as autobiography at one remove you won’t be far wrong – but you can relax “My Brother Jack” is infinitely better than other lightly- disguised autobiographies masquerading as novels.
“David Meredith” is born a sensitive bookish“milksop” into the dirt-poor outer suburbs of Melbourne Australia, bduring the first world war. His earliest memory is being taken to greet the troopship that has brought his father home from “the front” in Flanders. Davy’s father is, from the first, big, loud and frightening. He also later proves to have one fuck of a case of malignant P.T.S.D. Davy’s life changes utterly. His mother, a returned war-veteran nurse, turns the house into an unofficial convalescent home for war wounded she is too soft-hearted to let go of.
Davy grows, recounting the story of his life with blissful clarity and remarkable wisdom, slowly becoming a professional writer, until another vast armageddon rises up and sweeps him up into its arms. David becomes a War Correspondent in World War Two, and in a kind of mangled way, comes to terms with his demons, and sees outside himself for the first time. It is an utterly fascinating journey, supremely well told, that sweeps the reader along into an equivalent insight into themselves, by a big dose of the raw magic of literature.

7[”Childhoods End” (sir) Arthur C. Clarke ]
Arthur C.Clarke started his career in the 1950’s writing for such magazines as “Astounding Tales.” He went on to share an Academy award nomination with Stanley Kubrick for “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1969. The Climax of “Childhoods End” is the very peak of his astoundingly “big vision” Science Fiction – in fact for imagination stretching visions on Bob Shaw’s “[Orbitsville]” trilogy is bigger than Clarke- and Clarke is far the better writer.

Big Science Fiction not really your thing?

Maria is a young orphan living in the care of her horrible governess and the (worse) vicar in a massive decrepit country house in Britain in the 1940’s The house, Malplaquet has a long and noble history, going back many hundreds of years into the past, but its glories are fading into a plethora of quaint and endlessly delightful details. Maria’s only friend is Cook who lives in the kitchen with her dog Captain and travels the long corridors of the house on her bicycle, ringing her bell at the corners for safety. The dog, Captain trots along beside her. despite being reasonably well cared for Maria is basically a very lonely child with a very limited range of social contact. It is fortuitous, symbolic and frequently very funny when she makes an utterly wonderful and unexpected discovery in the unexplored wilds of the large estate and the book becomes, by turns, whimsical delightful and profoundly wise.
I first encountered “[Mistress Masham’s Repose]” when I was about ten and it was read to me by my mother. At the time I just thought it was a great story and did not appreciate its hidden wisdom until I read it again as an adult. It was only then that I developed understanding of how it had helped form my world view an give me the foundations of becoming a somewhat responsible adult.
If you’re looking for a book to read your children, nothing would please me more than if you carried on the tradition by reading them “[Mistress Masham’s Repose”- I think you’ll enjoy the experience yoursel]f

Neon Evening

She dropped the puppy into the Westinghouse and there was a deep pulse of green- white Atomic light and the puppy stopped making noise. Of course it wasn’t really a Westinghouse-they were just too expensive, but this Shimada worked just the same. She’d found a total of five puppies in the alley with their, and her mouth curled at the word; “mother.” She went to fetch the other four. Copyright (C) Alex Rieneck 2021 All Rights Reserved

Australia Day

Australia Day.

I was in a disabled taxi the morning of the 25th January, on my way to a physiotherapy torture session, when lo and behold came group of six or eight Police motorcycles, two abreast, lights flashing and sirens tootling passed us. They came out of Anzac Parade at a great rate of speed, turned into Oxford street, passing my taxi so close that it rocked and buggered off down Oxford Street at the same speed. ”Jesus,” said my taxi driver “it must be that cunt the prime minister.” We know each other well and have the same appreciation of archaic english language.

But it wasn’t! Fucking Scummo that is. Tailgating the group of motorcycles was a ten-tonne Army Truck, tastefully decorated to look as much like a speeding hedge as possible. And – fucking seriously – the speeding hedge was towing a seventy-five millimetre howitzer, which failed miserably in its disguise as a shrub.

Then! If that wasn’t enough, the shrub was followed by another group of motorcycles, another truck pretending to be a hedge and another one then a final group of police motorcycles to finish the whole parade off, and that was it, three big trucks, three howitzers, 18 Police motorcycles; no Scummo escaping bushfires to snatch a quick Hawaiian holiday in preference to doing actual work.

And off they all duly fucked-off, down Oxford Street towards the city, the largest collection of self-important wankers I’ve seen in many a long year. My Taxi driver was not at a loss for words. Neither was I. “What The Fuck was That?” we said in unison. This is where we diverged in character and mental makeup; after about a minute my Taxi driver said “Fucking Australia Day!” I had spent the time perhaps less constructively, in considering how much I loathe and detest Scott ”Projectile Vomit” Morrison.

But what I had witnessed stuck in my mind and started a very focussed train of thought in my head. ”How the fuck have the military got anything to do with Australia Day? They are, at best an exceedingly peripheral part of Australian Society, yet, by virtue of loud barking at strategically chosen times they have managed to cement themselves into the Australian zeitgeist in a wholly undeserved position of importance.

Look at it this way, the peacetime Australian Armed services do very little but sit around being paid, fed and clothed while waiting around for some national emergency, where, by participating in photo opportunities they attempt to make the incumbent regime look as competent as possible. (And handsome man in uniform standing to attention next to some pond scum in a suit is considered to make the pod scum look better). In the absence of a local natural disaster, the government of the day will search until they can find something, anything that they can boost their image with, and the troops on the ground will pop overseas for a nice all-expenses-paid-holiday where they get up to whatever misbehaviour they think they are entitled to, and, more important, that they think thy can get away with. For their part, the incumbent government hopes that their misbehaviour is not discovered until the voters have forgotten who deployed them there in the first place, because surely if the buck stops anywhere with war crimes, it stops with the governing regime in question. You need look no further than the mass executions of Nazi leaders in Spandau prison for that, or the hanging of Saddam and his cronies at the end of the gulf war. The recent war crimes committed by Australian SAS troops in Afghanistan are the direct responsibility of the government which deployed them there.

Indeed in the lack of a convenient war or national emergency, a person in the armed “services” amounts to little more than being the recipient of a kind of Social Security; fed and clothed from the taxpayers purse and for the most part providing far less value-for-money than the average dole ”bludger” who’s dole money supports the local community, as opposed to being spent within the armed services system. As far as it goes too, the average recipient of civilian social security can be trusted to find their own entertainment, and it must be said, in the overwhelming majority of cases this entertainment is harmless, and by dint of the paucity of the benefits in question, cheap.

Conversely an air-force pilot may be bought, with taxpayer funds, an airplane costing twenty billion taxpayer dollars – a plane which has no purpose other than killing foreigners to make the incumbent government look good- a technique beloved by despots throughout history and the world over, – which is why bad governments strangle education and stifle free media; an educated population is dangerous to a criminal government, in that it thinks for itself, and a free media can expose the lies of a government that has turned septic to even a poorly-educated population.

(c) Alex Rieneck, 2021

Mask Off

“I wish you all had one neck” (Gaius Caligula)

Massive election loss finally forced Donald Trump to show his true colours. What had been an article of faith to many for a long time has finally become a fact so glaringly obvious that it can only missed by those with their vision impaired by having upended buckets on their heads.

At at the end of World War Two, Hitler imposed a “scorched earth” policy of the land that would soon be conquered by the allies. To this end, crops were burned, bridges and factories blown up. When Hitler’s generals told him that this would result in mass starvation and amount to genocide of his own people, Hitler’s reply was that the German people had proved insufficiently strong and that they deserved whatever they got. Some weeks later when even Hitler’s superhuman powers of denying the obvious failed, fate forced the nasty creature’s hand, and, while the Soviets were kicking in the front door of the bunker, Hitler hid in his office and summoned up the courage to finally let go of his delusions.

The similarities between this story and the current disgrace playing out in American politics are, to my mind, lambently obvious. In the same way that Donald Trump won the last election by “A lot” (of imaginary votes), Hitler believed till the very end that imaginary troops could turn the Russian advance from the very gates of Berlin and throw them back across the Vistula. To achieve anything, you have to have a strong will. Sometimes the line between will and septic fantasy is as thin as the paper with an “enabling Act” drafted onto it.

It is worth remembering that Hitler was a democratically elected leader and simply manoeuvred himself into the position of dictator with luck and the right help from his super-rich backers in exactly the way that Trump could be seen to be setting himself up for – but with markedly less success. But now that the penny has finally dropped in Trump’s head, he’s happy to leave the American people – who did not vote for him, ”enough” to die of a virus which he appears to have only just noticed. And since he refuses to sign the assistance package – gives them the option to starve to death first.

Seem familiar?

stop press Trump has signed the bill, which is, in my opinion, roughly equivalent to Hitler poisoning his dog Blondie; we must now wait for his final concession to reality. The speech where he finally takes the metaphorical bullet and concedes to Joe Biden, admitting to what just about everyone else has known for many months, that he is politics personified all bluster and lies, held together by a skin of vindictive self-interest in an unsightly ambulatory body disguised in an expensive suit paid for with other people’s money.

(c) Alex Rieneck Dec 2020 All Rights Reserved

Princesa:(2001) Review

Film Review

This is an Italian film and probably the best film I have ever seen on the subject of transexuality/gender issues. It is the story of a Brazilian girl who goes to Milan in Italy to become a street sex worker so that she can get herself a sex change, and finalize her change to becoming Princesa, her ideal of the perfect woman.

To cut a long story short, she lives the life, falls in tempestous love with a man who appears perfect, and then opens her eyes to herself and finds love and family in the last place that she expects it. As, in some way or other, we all do.

The film is not porno, it is a love story and a story of someone growing up and becoming the person that they are, rather than either of the people that the world thinks that they should be. 

I found this film while I was in Rome, in the window of a closed video shop in the middle of the night, while I was walking home from a bunch of extremely interesting ruins. I came back and bought it the next day. My copy is in Italian, with Italian subtitles. Since I speak not more that five words of Italian, it has become one of my minor hobbies to watch the film, and attempt simultaneously learn the language and divine the finer nuances of the plot by the actor’s body language. 

An odd hobby I will admit. Not a bad one, though. While doing this I gradually came to the conclusion that the film easily ranks with “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” “Personal Services” and “Just like a Woman” as among the very best of trannie cinema, and also as one of my favourite films.

The film is now available on Amazon. Not a word of being in Italian. Guess I’ll be buying it, again. I wonder if knowing what the actors are actually saying will improve it? I think so. 


12-bore ReIncarnation

Nembutal is slower 

And you can vomit it up.

Smack’ll do the trick if the NarCan man is slow that day. But there’s no cure for painting the wall

With your mind and putting your everything into it, a blossoming rose of forget-me-not that has forgotten everything 

It ever


© Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved.

Treasures: “The Ballad of Cabel Hogue

“The Ballad of Cable Hogue”

A truly wonderful film few people have ever heard of.
Directed by Sam Peckinpah, (under the influence of Sergio Leone,) this film stars Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner,Slim Pickens and Strother Martin. The story concerns Cable Hogue , a grizzled no-account who is abandoned in the desert by his two treacherous homosexual companions. After long days, or perhaps weeks of wandering the desert he finds water! The water gives him life, but more importantly, the water gives him Alife.-one that he had never dreamed of. Over the decades, the water (and the desert that surrounds it, give him everything.He lives a long and happy life and at the end of the film, he, and the audience are transfigured.
I watched it again last night, for at least the tenth time, and I cried my eyes out at the end, as I always do.
A Real Classic. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again.
ReviewCopyright(C)2020 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved