Raging Bull

RATED - (R) -129-MIN-1980

                                 Revisiting an American Classic: (Raging Bull)

How Raging Bull did not receive the Best Picture Oscar in 1980 in my mind is unfathomable. (Martin Scorsese's) masterpiece that is (Raging Bull), is a brutal and brilliant piece of filmmaking from one the finest directors of our time. (Robert De Niro) is just memorizing as (Jake LaMotta); a man who's anger and fearlessness propelled him to become middleweight champion. The fight scenes in this classic are done with energy and a frenetic pace, putting you right there in the ring with the fighters and the use of black and white just adds to the starkness of this film, about a man who destroys anything in his sight, in and out of the ring, because he can't help or stop himself. The blood and sweat spray everywhere. There are countless head shots and open wounds, that some might find a bit too much, but it is necessary to present this story of a simple man, who did one thing very well; he beat his opponents to a pulp.Out of the ring, because of whatever propelled him, he was the same.

I know (Joe Pesci) Joey won the Best Supporting Actor award for Goodfellas, but I think he is even better in this film. His brother is a bully and a goon, but he loves him and wants to help because blood is all that matters. A very young (Cathy Moriarty) Vicki, more than holds her own against De Niro in their scenes, as Jake's very young wife, who he first spots at the local pool. LaMotta is already married, but it does not deter him from pursuing Vicki, and you buy that this young girl would fall for this little bit dangerous shlub, as he is charming in a simple way.(Scorsese) is a student of film, and this movie, though brutal and violent, has many touches that harken back to classics from the 40's.

The fight scenes are truly innovative and (Scorsese) shoots inside the ring, where he follows La Motta as he stalks his opponents. The second fight between La Motta and Sugar Ray Robinson is stunning as La Motta backs off after he has dazed Robinson, and then, as the soundtrack wails with what sounds like animal noises, La Motta goes in for the kill. (Scorsese) also, incorporates different camera speeds, whether it is in the ring as Jake fights, or watching Vicki stroll through a dance hall as his anger and jealousy rages at what she could be doing behind his back.

He has also from his very early films, seemed fascinated by the wise guys he grew up around in his neighborhood of Little Italy, as they commonly are represented in his movies. These are not the nicest of fellows here, but (Scorsese) has no interest in putting a shine on things. I saw an interview with him recently when asked, about these rather unsavory folks in his films, that he doesn't judge them; that if you were in their situation, you might surprise yourself and act similarly.


The opening of this film, with (De Niro) alone in the ring dancing around, with camera flashes popping off in the background while the somber (the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana) plays, is an iconic image in American cinema now.
Everything about this movie is perfect, even though it's title character is rather hard to sympathize with. Raging Bull is an American classic that you should see.

Watch the trailer: