My vote for the best Scorsese film and for the best DeNiro performance. All of nature is here. Family, the fall, contest, self-destruction, excess, deprivation. This film HAD to be in black & white, it's the only way you can fit such an expanse on the screen. The opening scene is my favourite opening in cinema. Love this.
At first, it seems like a sports drama meets an art film with its rawness, camerawork and natural performances. But, it's slowly turned into existential character arc, filled with longing and regrets that bring emotion in its fully shaped, black and white simplicity and fragility. And it's beautifully concluded with dedication to Marlon Brando as a self-irony that mirrors celebration of wasted lives.
"Hit me". Although this is only about an unsympathic & brutal, an angry self-destructive macho, behaving like a violent animal; it hits me. It is all about Mr. DeNiro & Mr. Pesci who really make the difference here. And not to forget the emazingly sexy character "Vickie"; Mrs. Moriarty at the age of 20. Its Mr. Scorsese's craftmanship making us understand Jake LaMotta and his demons that shaped him. Masterpiece.
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.