Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Raging Bull

Martin Scorsese is a master of character studies. He is able to capture a character's growth (or regression in some cases), while at the same time provide the audience with story they can genuinely care about. Raging Bull is not different. In their fourth collaboration, Scorsese directs Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, a famous boxer in the forties. LaMotta, managed by his brother Joey (played by Joe Pesci), becomes one of the most feared boxers in the country and becomes the first boxer ever to beat Sugar Ray Robinson. LaMotta then meets with a fifteen year-old girl named Vickie (played by Cathy Moriarty) and develops a relationship with her. As Jake's boxing status begins to heighten, the trials of being such a boxer come through in his relationships. LaMotta faces a serious struggle to keep his family together.

Raging Bull is awesome. Everybody knows it, or should at least. The brilliantly placed fight scenes, which are often in slow-motion, mirror the struggles LaMotta is dealing with throughout the film. The repeating fights with Sugar Ray Robinson represent his inability to move on from boxing and deal with his issues at home. De Niro is perfect in his role of Jake LaMotta, from the tough guy he plays at home, to the sobbing man overcome with emotions, even to the actually boxing. He delivers the whole package. Joe Pesci is also great as always as Jake's brother and manager. One reason I really enjoyed the film was the black and white scheme it was shot in. That, given the fact that the only shots in any color at all were the home videos in the middle of the film, leads me to believe that those home videos were the only times Jake was truly happy; the years the film skips were his happiest. The boxing world in the forties was a tough one and Scorsese depicts that very accurately.

Grade: A

High-billed actors - Box Office and Oscar
Unique and creative direction - Oscar
Notorious director/writer - Oscar and Box Office
Complex concepts and themes - Oscar
Characters are flawed and grow someway throughout the film - Oscar

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