Directed by Martin Scorsese
Haven’t seen this one in many years, and when I did it was on a really small TV– kinda the size of the one Jake LaMotta owns in the film. Not the ideal viewing experience, but educational– the film was so entertaining that it didn’t matter. With the blu-ray out now, I decided to revisit it.
Such a great movie. Probably my favorite Scorsese movie. Well, either this or Goodfellas. It all depends on which I’ve seen most recently. And definitely De Niro’s best performance. He’s such a great dramatic actor, but he’s also good at comedy, and it shows here. The whole ‘fuck my wife’ scene is sad, but it’s also hilarious. I know people shit on De Niro for him doing comedy movies, but I liked him a lot in Meet The Parents. That the sequels (and other comedy films he’s been in) are intolerable is not his fault as an actor.
There are so many shots here that last maybe a few seconds, but they stick in your mind like they lasted a minute because they’re so gorgeous. Compare that to action movies these days like the Bourne series, where there are tons of muddy quick cuts that are completely unmemorable. Can you imagine if Greengrass directed this movie?
I think part of what makes the short shots stick in your head is there are also shots that seem like they should be short, but are played in slow motion and drawn out. It plays with your sense of time in a fun way. You really get a feel for what it must be like to be in the heat of the ring, as well as what it must be like trying to remember the fury afterward. Some of LaMotta’s fights are just literal snapshots in his mind, others contain rounds that seem to exist outside of time and space. Top notch editing.
You can really see how much Paul Thomas Anderson learned from this film. And it’s a testament to how good Boogie Nights is that after I see Raging Bull, I wanna watch Boogie Nights, and after I watch Boogie Nights, I wanna watch Raging Bull. Rinse, repeat.
Also, both films are about a man and his member. But Diggler and LaMotta are polar opposites in that department. For example, when Cathy Moriarty is licking and kissing his chest, making her way to his cock (one of the sexiest non-nude moments in film history) when LaMotta stops her, he gets up and we see he has no bulge whatsoever.
Speaking of Cathy, she’s pitch-perfect the whole film. I don’t buy her as a 15-year-old in the start of the film, but I do buy LaMotta seeing a 15-year-old girl and thinking she looks a lot older than she actually is, so it works. And by the time she’s shaking her legs in the pool water (a drool-worthy shot) you’re in love with her, so who gives a shit.
Whether you’ve seen this movie before or not, you really need to check out this new blu-ray. The picture and sound are phenomenal. They didn’t do that 4k thing on it like they did with Taxi Driver, so I’m sure it could look better, but the way it looks now is incredible. Especially for $12.99.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars.