Martin Scorsese's 1983 movie about an aspiring comic (Robert De Niro) who kidnaps a talk-show host (Jerry Lewis) is clearly an extension of Taxi Driver—both in its themes of obsession and its ambiguous stylistic mixture of fantasy and reality (it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins—my feeling is that the entire last half of the film takes place in the De Niro character's mind). But the shift in archetypes from Catholic to Jewish, plus the visual shift from extravagant expressionism to flat, overlit TV images, radically alters the point of view; you feel for the first time that Scorsese is trying to distance himself from his characters—that he finds them grotesque. The uncenteredness of the film is irritating, though it's irritating in an ambitious, risk-taking way. You'd better see for yourself. With Diahnne Abbott and Sandra Bernhard.
By Dave Kehr