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Raging Bull

Raging Bull - ****

Written by: Paul Schrader
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Running Time: 129 minutes
Rated: R
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Cathy Moriarty.

When I think about a masterpiece of a film, one comes to mind, Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull". I've seen my fair share of sports films, but no other even compares to this brilliant piece of work. When I think of De Niro, I think of this film, when I think of Scorsese, I think of this film, and when it comes to Paul Schrader's best screenplay's, this is one of his best.

Let me start here by mentioning Mr. Scorsese is my favorite director of all time, his films are like no one else's. No other director can top this man when it comes to film. The first Martin Scorsese film I ever viewed was his third best film: "Taxi Driver". I instantly fell in love with the film and the films director. In the next month I viewed three more Scorsese pictures, "The Last Temptation of Christ", "Goodfellas", and what I consider his masterpiece, "Raging Bull." I consider all these films masterpieces, Scorsese's direction never dissapoints me, and his actors in his films are always so brilliant, for example: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepard, Ray Liotta, and of course, Mr. Robert De Niro.

"Raging Bull" tells the story of the great boxer, Jake La Motta, who was best known from his great fued with Sugar Ray Robinson. The films starts when it shows us an aged and fat Jake La Motta, he's already out of the boxing business and is reciting a poem about his fights. The poem I loved, it's one of my favorite quotes, it goes as followed: "I remember those cheers, they still ring in my ears and for years they remain in my thoughts. 'Cause one night I took off my robe and, what'd I do?, I forgot to wear shorts. I recall every fall, every hook, every jab, the worst way a guy can get rid of his flab. As you know my life was a jab, Though I'd rather hear you cheer when I delve into Shakespeare, "A horse, a horse, My kingdom for a horse." I haven't had a winner in six months. And though I'm no oliver, if he fought Sugar Ray, he would say it the thing ain't the ring, its the play. So give me a stage, Where this Bull here could rage, and though I could fight I'd much rather recite. That's entertainment."

Jake La Motta is having troubles with his first wife, she hates him. He has a brother, Joey, played by the totally genius Joe Pesci. Joey one day introduces Jake to Vicky, played by the lovely Cathy Moriaty. Jake instantly falls in love with her, and she soon becomes his lovely wife.
But Jake is ruining their relationship by being too protective, he always looks after her and when he can't, he tells Joey to. This of course, she hates. He gets so jealous sometimes, for example one day she calls another boxer La Motta is about to fight "attractive" and Jake gets more than a little angry, he beats the living hell out of this person to which they reply: "He ain't pretty no more."

Robert De Niro is of course my favorite actor, so when you put a brilliant actor and director together, you get one of the greatest films of all time. Robert De Niro has done many great performances: Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, Noodles in Once Upon A Time in America, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, etc. Those are all brilliant and unforgettable performances, but this is indeed his best and most brilliant performance of all time. I think this is the best role of any actor I have ever seen in a film. I don't think any other actor can ever top De Niro in Raging Bull. The preparation De Niro took up for this role, the man gained 60 pounds, went though extensive physical training, and entered in three boxing mathches in Brooklyn. Now that is a devoted actor.

Paul Schrader, who of course wrote one of the best screenplays of all time (Taxi Driver) writes this film based on the book by LaMotta. I love Schrader, he's one of my favorite screenwriters, and I really thought this screenplay was genius. The dialogue he uses between these people is amazing.

Of course by the late 50's, La Motta is older, fatter, and has a really bad life. His family life is terrible, he soon starts his own club and parties all night. This makes his wife divorce him, to makes things even worse, he gets arrested for kissing young girls in his club. This man, of course, is not loved by many. Not loved by his wife or brother. But he wants to be loved, and soon after he tries to patch things up with his brother Joey after having a fight with him about Vicky. Jake is no good man, but you know this man is not a bad man either. After seeing his whole story, it kind of makes you love this man.

"Raging Bull" is the second best film I've ever seen, but of course Mr. Scorsese didn't win the Best Director award that year, in fact, he never did win one, which I think is a total disgrace because this man has made many many masterpieces that he deserved an award for. De Niro did win, his only Best Actor winning award, and he totally deserved it. La Motta is a very interesting man, and a tough man, he would always refuse to be knocked down, even though he was experiencing all this pain, he never went down. Now if you haven't seen this film, then go treat yourself and see it, it is the best film of the 1980's.