Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The One Where AT Hearts Raging Bull

The One Where AT Hearts Raging Bull, And You Should Too

Evening kids. Whilst GC educates us on music over on my site, HERE, I thought I'd talk about a Scorsese powerhouse - so good, it's like an upper cut to the balls, or lady bits.

I depressed myself before watching my next Scorsese movie.

Self torture, really. I knew no good could come of it.

So why did I look at De Niro’s  IMDb page? What good could come of that? I anger myself sometimes. But more than ever it hits me… I’m angry with DeNiro.

The Fockers 3, or whatever it’s called? Jesus.

This is all relevant as I finally watched my Bluey copy of Raging Bull t’other night. That, then looking at his IMDb page, is enough to make me want to end it all.

Context is important, here.

De Niro had already made Taxi Driver, reviewed HERE. He’s already made Deer Hunter. God Father Part II.

Way before Christian Bale bulked up, then slimmed down, De Niro made that his own. Starting off bloated, and mumbling, you’d be forgiven in  thinking it’s Marlon Brando that had staggered over from Coppola's set. Not so.  It’s De Niro alright. And you know immediately the film is going to be bruising.

There’s not too much to add that hasn’t been said about the cinematography. The music. The striking use of black and white, as the white title cards hark back to the very first movies ever made.

Scorsese knew he was making a classic. I’m sure of that. Sometimes timing is everything. These two together was no accident. Mean Streets and New York, New York were already in the bag – and that’s important too. There was a trust seldom seen between Director and Actor(s).

I’ll tackle Casino soon, and how as a kid growing up, my dad hated Joe Pesci. Hated him. I think I realize now that he didn’t hate him as a person – and almost certainly not as an Actor (although he single handedly fucked Lethal Weapon up). He hated him because he’s trouble. You know if there’s a car door, Pesci is going to slam someone’s head in it.

Here, Scorsese keeps the camera still. It’s all in the edits when they are in the ring, but the real bruises? They take place outside the ring.

When De Niro gives his, “Did you fuck my Wife?” speech, my blood runs cold.

Shirt open. Beer gut hanging out. Glory days a distant memory. Grabbing his wife’s hair, you know what’s coming. When he goes after her, it fore shadows Cape Fear brilliantly. De Niro is Max Cady. Kicking the bathroom door in,  you half want him to say, “Here’s Jakey”. Slapping his wife, and “being man enough” to hold back the punch… De Niro plays it brilliantly. It tells you everything you need to know about the character. He thinks he is noble but hot “hitting” her. The dozens of slaps are OK. Of course goading him, and telling him she “fucked everyone on the block”… that he’s a “fat pig”… well, not the smartest move.

So he goes and beats his Brother up. Damn that Joe Pesci. Trouble, (and violence), just seems to follow him.

Immediately Jake gets in the ring. It’s the bloodiest fight yet. Getting all of that anger and frustration out, before going home to play happy families.

The thing that struck me watching was how it’s less violent than I remember. I should say, “less bloody”, than I remember. I watched Departed a few months back, so maybe it’s because compared to that, Raging Bull is fairly tame. I don’t know. The punches certainly land though. And the boxing scenes still stand out as exemplary. It got me excited for The Fighter actually – a film just the other night I was telling JMcG I wasn’t excited about seeing.

The final fight makes that last paragraph non-descript. As Ray gives Jake the beating of his life we suddenly realise the point of the whole film.

The scene near the very beginning, (Empires Classic Scene this month, no less), where Jake asks his Brother to hit him. Begrudgingly he does. But he wants to know what it proves. Jake just looks at him, playfully pinching his cheek.

Here, covered in blood, (including a brilliantly dark scene where his mouth guard and all the blood from his mouth) shoots across the commentators in the crowd.

“Hey Ray… you didn’t get me down, Ray… I never went down.”

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