I’ve been wanting to see Raging Bull for a really, really, really long time. In fact, it was #3 on my “Movies I Want To Rent/See” list that I started in 2000 when I was in 7th grade. It’s also on The National Film Registry along with a million other movie lists. But I just didn’t really enjoy it that much.
It pains me to say that. I thought Raging Bull was going to blow my mind. But I just thought it was sort of . . . boring. The plot was pretty much divided into scenes of Jake LaMotta (Robert de Niro) boxing and scenes of Jake LaMotta’s horrible personality. I actually enjoyed the boxing scenes more; though I thought the movie was boring as a whole, the way the boxing was filmed was really very beautiful. But the plot just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t think the relationships were complex enough to be interesting: Jake is continually psychotically jealous and possessive of his wife, Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and fights with his sort of awful/sort of okay brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). And that’s about it. I didn’t find that his character particularly stood out from other similar characters (including most of those from Goodfellas).
I was sort of amazed at the makeup and de Niro’s famous physical transformation, though. Despite his character, I always found de Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to be prettyyyyy good looking. Taxi Driver was made only 4 years before Raging Bull, and though for most of it de Niro has a similar physique, his face looks soooo fucked up and unattractive. I don’t know how they did it. Maybe a prosthetic nose? Something, though. It was pretty effective.
But yeah, I feel ready to take a little break from movies that revolve around brutes.
I watched this movie in high school but all I remembered about it was that John Turturro was in it as an uncredited extra. It’s really bizarre but cool. After seeing this again, and so close to watching Goodfellas, I feel like I like Raging Bull more. The camera work in that film is so great and the story about this somewhat cool but mostly awful guy/athlete is so great. I don’t think Elizabeth liked it but I was totally engaged with it from start to finish. But I also think that boxing is a pretty great sport.