Friday, May 24, 2013

Raging Bull

Jake La Motta's violent and tempermental nature in the ring would spill over into his personal life causing him to hurt and alienate many of those close to him. Likewise, the insecurities and jealousies would not only destroy his personal life but cause him to implode in the ring as well. Raging Bull tells the story of La Motta's rise in the 1940s with the help of his manager kid brother. Tearing through opponents, he would eventually be crowned champ and marry the young girl of his dreams. Eventually, his greatest opponent would be himself and he would be left alone, broke, and overweight, a pathetitic nightclub act reciting Brando's lines from On The Waterfront to a desolate crowd of drunks. Martin Scorsese tells the tale of this ugly man using beautiful and graceful black and white cinematography from Michael Chapman seamlessly edited by Oscar winner and longtime Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. Working from La Motta's memoirs and a script by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin, Raging Bull is Martin Scorsese's masterpiece. Robert De Niro, in an Oscar winning role, wonderfully captures all of the horrible aspects and nuances of La Motta in his portrayal of the self-destructive man. Joe Pesci does fine work as his brother Joey and Cathy Moriarity is great as La Motta's envy inspiring bride. Raging Bull is a modern classic, but it is a difficult film as well. Not employing any of the cliches associated with the sports or biopic genres, and presenting tough material that causes the viewer to think, it is a great film on many levels.