Monday, 2 August 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 318

11 - Raging Bull - 4 stars
I've been seeing a lot of black and white films recently and when done right, like this film, it can look so beautiful that you wonder why people started doing colour pictures in the first place. It might have helped that I was watching this on Blu Ray.
It is a real shame that we will hardly see any more black and white movies being produced because it is more expensive to film that way these days. I had heard a rumour that last year's White Ribbon had been filmed in colour and then digitally converted to black and white in post-production!
The boxing scenes have a poetry and ballet like quality about them, devoid of the fast cutting, montage fuelled segments that would popularise the Rocky series. In fact there is not all that much boxing in the film as it is a portrait of a man rather than the sport.
This was back in the day when DeNiro could still lose himself in a role, before he became a paycheck player and caricature of himself like Pacino. In honestly struggle to think of decent performances for both men after Heat.
Here he becomes Jake LaMotta, a powderkeg of rage and self-destructive tendencies. His commitment is never more apparent than, at the time, his record breaking weight gain of 60 pounds (or one Dakota Fanning) to play LaMotta in his later years away from the ring.
Whether it is asking his brother to punch him in the face, his taunting of Sugar Ray "You never got me down Ray", or his vicious breakdown in the police cell, it is never less than mesmerising.
Yet as I have always said, your enjoyment of a film can be affected by your own experiences, and there were two occasions when I found myself taken out of the movie (much like people who are taken out of the world of the film when a Wilhelm Scream is used), and they were when Joe Pesci shouts "There's no way you can lose" which reminded me of the Lovefilm advert that always played at the cinema, and the "Did you fuck my wife?" rant by DeNiro that was spoofed by Eddie Izzard during his Dressed To Kill show:
"You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife?", "I AM your wife", "You fuck my wife?".
But these are minor points and you shouldn't really begrudge a film too much when it ends with LaMotta reciting the classic monologue from On The Waterfront. Is he simply reciting it or is he actually talking about his own brother? The debate is now open...

Days remaining - 47 Films remaining - 47

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