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Raging Bull

Year: 1980
Production Co: Chartoff-Winkler Productions
Studio: United Artists
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Irwin Winkler/Robert Chartoff
Writer: Paul Scraeder/Jake La Motta
Cast: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent
Another undisputed classic, one magazines talk about in hushed tones when they mention the more famous work of a great director. As such, the question that inevitably arises in one's mind when watching such films is 'is this as great a movie as everyone thinks?'

Not half an hour in my response was a resounding 'no'. Watching a story about a character couldn't have been more unattractive, and it was as if De Niro, Scorsese and co wanted to make a movie about the worst possible person they could find. I found myself asking why I'd want to share the life of such a thug who didn't deserve any of his success and got what he deserved through his own pride, stupidity and brutality.

So the only reason to watch the film is for the performances, and although De Niro's talent far outshines his choice of roles nowadays, this was the actor at his absolute peak.

Jake La Motta was a postwar boxer from New York who rose to the top while alienating everyone from his headstrong wife (Moriarty) to his brother and manager Joey (Pesci) with his paranoia and unchecked temper.

All sorts of visual tricks subliminally convey La Motta's journey, like the filming of his later fights in larger boxing rings to reflect his diminishing soul, and the story chronicles La Motta's early success while leapfrogging decades to bring us his post-career decline as a fat, corrupt nightclub owner just asking to be nabbed for his many transgressions.

Powerful - undoubtedly. Classic - most certainly. Enjoyable - not a whit.

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