This was the golden age of DeNiro. He should have won two years in a row for best actor. It became the gold standard for actors modifying their bodies. If you saw 'The Machinist' then you know that actors will go so far to modify their bodies that they actually do damage. It wasn't DeNiro or Christian Bale that did the best job according to real boxers. That award goes to Daniel Day-Lewis, and he's a fucking nutter.
Whenever I see Raging Bull, the 2 elements of film form I mainly focus on are cinematography and editing. The 1st thing you'll notice is that the film is in b&w, giving the movie a feel of the time period it's set in, and reflecting Lamotta's somber, depressing emotions. The editing becomes critical in the fights, like when Jake chooses to take a beating, and it creates a fast, bloody pummeling that conveys his pain.
The editing of the fights is so tight and controlled that it creates a kinesthetic effect, allowing the viewer to feel every punch and suffer every mistake. My frustration with this film applies to much of Scorcese's oeuvre, however, and that is the focus on a "complicated" male lead. LaMotta and his story aren't particularly compelling, and while I get that his antihero sensibilities are the point, who really cares?
RAGING BULL doesn't appeal to me as much as when I was a boy. When I was a boy I was able to buy into this out-sized carnivalesque freakshow about the intersection of masculinity and stunted adulthood. Back then I could swallow some of this dialogue (and those line-readings (!)) without rolling my eyes. Looking at it after all these years, I see a masterpiece of design, fetid w/ terminal machismo. Deeply ugly.
Excellent from beginning to end. How De Niro went from stuff like this to Meet the Parents is a real mind bending question, but oh well. This is probably his best work followed by King of Comedy. Scorsese really pulled the best performances out of him in hindsight. Just a great gripping biopic, channeling the New Wave as well as epic fight flicks of yore, like the Set Up starring Ryan. Essential 80s cinema
One of the best Scorcese/De Niro collaborations. De Niro is absolutely astounding as La Motta. The black and white photography by Michael Chapman is gorgeous. For some reason, I found that Cathy Moriarty who plays La Motta's wife looks very much like Kim Novak... One of my favourites by Scorcese.