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