Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro Film Fest Movie # 2 (Interestingly, Jake LaMotta made a cameo appearance in The Hustler) 

Synopsis: Working class Italian-American becomes boxing champion. Hey, it’s just like Rocky… if Rocky Balboa was a paranoid, philandering lunatic who regularly beat the crap out of Paulie and Adrian.  

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “In what is still considered the performance of his career, Robert De Niro won the Best Actor Oscar for his searing portrayal of real-life boxer Jake La Motta. Martin Scorsese’s flawless direction and Michael Chapman’s gritty cinematography vividly capture the blood and brutality of the fight world – and the dark landscape of the human soul.” 

What Did I Learn?: If you own a championship belt and you’re desperate to make some fast cash, it’s a much better idea to sell the belt as-is, than to pry the rhinestones out with a butter knife. 

Really?: Raging Bull is based upon La Motta’s book, so it might not be entirely fair for me to judge its credibility, but I’m surprised that any of the people depicted in this film would have stayed in his life as long as they did. 

Rating: I know that Raging Bull is widely considered to be a classic, and that both De Niro and Joe Peschi deliver outstanding performances in this film, but I’ve always found it to be unpleasant, and difficult to watch at times (See: “Synopsis”). While I love character-driven films, De Niro’s La Motta is a repulsive human being, and Joey (Peschi) isn’t much better. 6/10 stars.

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