L Magazine, a freebie dispensed from orange plastic bins on busy intersections in New York City, runs a feature called "Ask a Cabbie", in which one of their writers flags down a few cabs, takes a ride, and asks the drivers a question. It's usually worth reading.
Recently, there was one entitled "Your Favorite NYC Movie". Ndugu from Mozambique goes for Spider-Man; Steven from Bed-Stuy gives props to Do The Right Thing.
Tom from Brooklyn is a man after my own heart:
Dog Day Afternoon. That's one of my favorite movies. [Shame about Lumet.] Yeah it was. Real shame. A lot of his were great. Network, Serpico. I love his crime movies. He's one of the great New York filmmakers.
Tom from Brooklyn not only chose the best non-Coppola, non-Scorsese, non-Altman, non-Allen film of the 1970s, but he clearly knows his shit.
However, the answer I really love comes from Samir, originally from Nepal.
I love movies, but American movies are usually garbage. Sorry. I like kung-fu movies or Bollywood. But there are some good American ones. The first one that comes to mind is Taxi Driver, but that's probably because I'm a taxi driver. Sometimes I do the "You talkin' to me" speech with customers, but I don't think they get it because I drive a taxi. Everyone says that speech.
Do you really think "they don't get it" because he's driving a taxi? Can you imagine the horror his passengers must feel when they look up and see his eyes staring at them in the rear view mirror and then he says, "You talkin' to me? Are you talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?"
If I hailed Samir and he did his routine, I have the feeling I'd throw a $20 into the front seat and say, "You can let me off here. I'll walk the next forty blocks. Please don't kill me . . . I'm not scum. Here's another $20. Keep the change."
By the way, according to wikipedia, the repository of all contemporary knowledge, the famous mirror-scene lines were inspired by . . . Bruce Springsteen?
In his 2009 memoir, saxophonist Clarence Clemons said De Niro explained the line's origins when Clemons coached De Niro to play the saxophone for the movie New York, New York. Clemons says De Niro had seen Bruce Springsteen say it onstage at a concert as fans were screaming his name, and decided to make the line his own.
The most horrific lines of modernity's devout nihilism and what has become the primal scene of urban alienation and dissociation have their origin in the champion of post-war humanism and his wry, loving communion with his audience. It doesn't get much better than that.