May 23, 2012
Raging Bull 
After seeing Taxi Driver, I couldn't resist the temptation of yet another Scorsese-de Niro collaboration and of course, Raging Bull was next in line. Directed by Martin Scorsese, and written for screen by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin, the story follows the self-destructive life of Jake La Motta. I must say that overall, I wasn't that impressed with it and I won't see it again, but there are wonderful things to be said about it.
The opening sequence, in true Scorsese style and proving, yet again, his genius nature, is a fantastic mixture of orchestral music and slow motion shots of the boxer. Actually, the whole movie was perfectly directed- if on Taxi Driver, Marty used a lot of close-ups, this time around he went for the slow motion and it worked perfectly. I especially loved the scene in which Jake watches Vickie at the first dance, but also the seduction part- he sure knows how to show sexuality and sensuality and the women he chooses are just right for it. Another favorite is the final round of his last game with Sugar Ray- the shots of the two in slow motion and the lighting/framing/music/etc was beautiful.
From a film-making point of view, as usual, almost everything was great. The music score, the cinematography, the costumes, the use of Black&White and more. The thing that bugged me, although it wasn't very important, was the continuity problem in some of the scenes- there were some errors, some radical changes of De Niro's face and blood spatter in certain scenes, plus the fights were obviously choreographed and in some points you could see they weren't actually touching. Maybe it was just me, but it bother me in some points. As for the pace of the movie, I felt it was rather robotic and went from one scene to another another in a very straight forward way- it didn't create a pleasant or appealing transition between scenes, which is weird, since it did win an Oscar. [again, maybe it is just me]
Acting wise, you really can't go wrong with Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro. The first one was quite a revelation, as he portrayed the younger, more caring and protective brother of Jake La Motta, and earned mine and, probably most of the viewers, sympathy and admiration. De Niro's character, on the other hand, was insufferable. If I were to compare him to Travis Bickle, the taxi driver would win hands down in every category. Whilst Travis was wild, dangerous, intense, even deranged, Jake was just a hard headed, insecure asshole (pardon the expression). Maybe that's why I much prefer his 1976 performance to this one, although I agree with Robert's Oscar win for Raging Bull just for the "Why" scene in prison, which has to be one of the most painful moments I have ever seen. I also have to mention the transformation after the last Sugar Ray Robinson match- I almost didn't recognize him.
Raging Bull deserves his title of classic, but it isn't as good as Taxi Driver. I, for one, am not interested in seeing it again anytime soon and I will probably forget most of it in a month!
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Loud loud loud. I loved the acting, and I thought the female playing Vicki was gorgeous and perfectly suited for a black and white film, and yes that scene with the wall was heartbreaking. But I was so frazzled throughout- people were too loud in this.ReplyDelete
Taxi Driver > Raging Bull any damn day.
The woman was indeed beautiful, but let's be honest, 15 at the beginning of the movie? she looked at least 25 (I later read she was 20 when the movie was shot)Delete
Although it isn't one of Scorsese's films I return to very often - it is just too downbeat for me - the photography and performances are astonishing.ReplyDelete
Yes, they both are great, it just didn't stand out to me as much as Taxi Driver!Delete
Good review Diana. This is a true classic with a pitch-perfect performance from De Niro that's unlike any other he's ever done. Don't get me wrong, he's had his fair share of good performances but this is by far, his greatest and I will dispute that until the day I die. Yeah, I just went there.ReplyDelete
That good, huh? better than Taxi Driver? I will have to disagree here, but I get your point!Delete
I really like the movie but for me it's nowhere near the level of Taxi Driver, which was much more subtle and clever work of art. De Niro was great here but not as great as in TD. Excellent review!ReplyDelete
Yes, you said it: TD was much more subtle and clever, that's why I liked it better! Thanks!Delete
I consider this film a masterpiece; definitely my top 10 of all time. But the fact that you don't want to watch it again anytime soon is completely understandable. It is heavy heavy shit. But my god, the power of it all.ReplyDelete
That scene when he's alone in the prison cell IS acting. Period.
Ps, Cathy Moriarty was 20 when the film was released, but she was actually 18 turning 19 when they shot the film. Crazy.
I agree that the scene in the prison is absolutely fantastic and, like I said, he deserves an Oscar just for that one, but when I said I don't want to see it again, it wasn't because it was too heavy- I just didn't like it that much, sorry!Delete
Actually, I think you interpreted the character of Jake Lamotta the way it was intended. When LaMotta saw the film himself he reportedly said that it was accurate and that he didn't realize how bad a guy he had been until he saw it all at once in a movie. To me, far and away the biggest reason to see this film is Deniro's performance.ReplyDelete
Yes, De Niro is always very good and the 70s-80s performances are all fantastic!Delete