2020 Blind Spot Series: Raging Bull


What I knew going in: The main plot

Jake La Matta (Robert De Niro) is a famous boxer whose temper gets the best out of him outside of the ring. That's an understatement, he beats his wife, Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and frequently gets into it with his brother, Joey. (Joe Pesci) He wants a nice family life, but he can't control himself enough to actually make that happen.

I haven't seen a lot of Martin Scorcese's early works. I had Taxi Driver on a Blind Spot a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely so I figured Raging Bull would be a good place to go net. Unfortunately I didn't like this one nearly as much.

For me, the only thing this film really had going for it was the way it shot the fighting scenes and the acting. De Niro is great and I'm not surprised he won an Oscar for this, not only for looking so toned while fighting but for gaining so much weight to play La Matta at the end of his story, but he nailed the part emotionally as well. The problem was I never found La Matta to be interesting.

When you base your movie around someone so unlikable, you need to make their decisions intriguing or their persona entertaining. You need to give us something other than their biggest flaw. Lester Burnham in American Beauty was a sleaze, but he had some genuinely interesting commentary on his midlife crisis. Jordan Belfort in Scorcese's own The Wolf of Wall Street was corrupt, but he was very charismatic. Jake La Matta is just a boring asshole. He had no layers until the very end hinted at a few.

I don't think this film is terrible, I think there's a lot of good things about it, it just didn't work for me personally.

Recommended: No

Grade: C


Memorable Quote: "Your mother sucks big fucking elephant dicks." - Joey (Joe Pesci)



10 comments:

  1. I wasn't a fan of this either, but I am extremely variable on Scorsese on the whole.

    I'm not someone who objects to swearing either in film or life but unnecessary extreme profanity is something else. Scorsese loves it apparently but it bores me simple and when this or many of his other films roll it out I disengage from both the film and the characters. So that was a strike against it right there but as you did I found La Motta more or less a thoroughly repellent person and didn't care about his story. DeNiro was very good and so was Cathy Moriarty but not enough to win me over.

    Once was plenty, really more than enough.

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    1. I don't mind excessive swearing when it fits. Someone like Rob Zombie abuses it to the point where none of his characters feel like real people. But films like Wolf of Wall Street I think use excessive profanity well because it fits Jordan and those stock broker guys.

      One is going to be plenty for me as well.

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  2. I do love this film as I love what de Niro did yet I saw the film as the study of a man driven by obsession to be the best and be in control only to completely lose control. There is a great parody of this film from MadTV a long time ago in Raging Bullwinkle.

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    1. omg that title alone. You're right, that is a good way to look at it, I just didn't love it. I wasn't expecting to be so underwhelmed.

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  3. Holy shit, do I love this film. We used to watch this in college all the time, it's so f--king quotable. De Niro is straight up bananas here.

    And I second that Raging Bullwinkle mention...even though it might be painful after all these years (that shit killed when I was 16)

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    1. I'm glad you love it! I wish I would have it just wasn't for me, I guess. I think if Vickie had stuff a bomb in Jake's gym bag or something I would've enjoyed it more.

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  5. I’ve seen clips of this film but it looks like a film about a disgusting man with no redeeming qualities. Funny, this real person just died a couple of years ago..I thought he would have been dead long ago. I like Scorsese’ films that are not as popular like Hugo and would love to pick his brain about film since he loves old films and is big into saving classic film. I hate Goodfellas because, one thing, all the swearing which makes me sound like a prude. I’m all for swear words but not every 2 seconds

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    1. I plan on watching Goodfellas soon! My husband said he's doing to divorce me if I don't like it though lol.

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