I want someone to explain to me what’s so damn great about this movie.
I can appreciate the fine acting from DeNiro and what blessedly little I know about technical aspects of film makes me like what Scorsese does as a director, but I have never met a movie I was more ready to toss back in the Netflix sleeve and send back.
Raging Bull is the biography of Jake LaMotta, a knuckledragging prize fighter who’s far more content to live life using his fists than anything else. From the start of his career to his seedy end running a nightclub, his life is turbulent and filled with problems, from his family to his wife to his losses in the ring.
I still can’t figure out why the hell I don’t like this movie.
Here’s the problem. I should’ve watched this when I still had some measure of admiration for DeNiro. Not that I don’t think DeNiro’s a knockout actor – he is – but years of watching DeNiro muddle through crap like Hide & Seek has strongly reduced my ability to tolerate much crap. I should, also, admit that the only two DeNiro films I view fondly are The Godfather Part II, Awakenings and Heat. No, really.
So, I’m trying to reserve judgment watching DeNiro clown around with a fake nose and a busted up face, but it’s just not working. I don’t doubt DeNiro’s devotion or work in the movie; he gained a ton of weight to play LaMotta in his later years, but something about LaMotta in general is just staggeringly boring. I’d really rather take a look at The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle to be quite frank.
Now, I get what Scorsese’s trying to do here. Yes, I get the whole “boxing ring as a metaphor for life”, Marty. But by the end of Raging Bull I felt as if I’d been beat about the head with it. I’d rather take a left hook from Sugar Ray Leonard any day than be beat about the head with that crap continuously.
Additionally, it’s a movie full of vile characters. No one’s character is spared – they’re all portrayed to be an enormous bunch of assholes, which is essentially what LaMotta and company are. His wife’s the neighborhood tramp, his brother’s a loudmouthed jerk, LaMotta himself beats his wife and drinks himself into oblivion. I’ve liked movies before about vacuous, nasty characters. I remember liking Nil By Mouth when every character in that was an unlikeable jerk. There’s something very wearing about Raging Bull’s characters, though, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Technically, I get why Raging Bull is great. As an average film-goer? No, not so much. The main point of the story is LaMotta finally wising up a bit and realizing life is different outside the ring and you have to take responsibility for your actions. It’s too bad you have to suffer through all the rest to get to that point. The whole mess of characters made me unable to sympathize or even feel the fact that LaMotta had changed by the end of the film; he still seemed a shallow, self-important jerkface.
Raging Bull made me want to go through my Netflix queue and just clean house. Some of the more “serious” films, like this one, which get hailed as the greatest movies EVER, I have a difficult time stomaching. I rarely, if ever, have anything humorous to say about them and more often than not, I’m left scratching my head as to why people told me for years to see them. Perhaps I have awful taste in movies, perhaps I’m just an idiot who doesn’t get it; but I swear, I’d rather have a few laughs or scares than feel like I’ve just been subjected to two hours of worthlessness.