20 February 2011

Movies: Raging Bull

Raging Bull http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081398/
From 1980, I know it's a 30yr old movie, but I'd never watched it until now. Figured as praised as the movie is I should watch it. Probably Martin Scorsese's most important flick.
Nutshell: Based on the Jake LaMotta biography - LaMotta is the former boxing middleweight champion who was the first man to knock down and beat Sugar Ray Robinson. The movie covers his self-destructive journey through life. It is basically a straight-forward step-by-step progression through LaMotta's boxing career and after, including his destructive interpersonal relationships with those around him.
LaMotta is played by Robert De Niro. De Niro learned to box (from LaMotta himself), got in incredible shape for the first part of the movie, then gained 60 pounds for the later part of the movie - a record until surpassed by Vincent D'Onofrio's 70lb weight gain for Full Metal Jacket (another great flick).
Aside from the physical commitment, the performances by the cast are outstanding. So much so that I forgot about who was playing the parts and just watched everything unfold. Totally drew me in to the story.
It isn't fast paced. Scorsese paced this one right on the edge. Not quite as plodding as Kubrick films can get. I'll admit there were a couple times I was ready to be exasperated by the pace, but then the movie continued and I forgot all about it. 
Scorsese's visual style and homages to earlier flicks are subtle, some I wouldn't have noticed had they not been pointed out, aside from the obvious "On The Waterfront" reference. The use of black and white is very effective in telling the story - it sets a tone that matches the era and feel of the story.
I'm glad I watched it - it was worth the time. Worthy of its classic status. Worth watching at least once.

(original post 21 May 2010)

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