Raging Bull (1980)

I didn’t realize it until now, but I was actually working off a different list way back in my first attempt to watch all of AFI’s Top 100 movies.  The initial list came out in 1998, and was modified in 2007 to remove some movies, add others, and change around some ranking.  Wikipedia has a side-by-side comparison of the lists.  I’m working off the 2007 list this time, but even so, I went into the task having already watched nearly half the movies.

Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull came in 4th on the list (and 24th on the original list).  I’m not sure why.  With the exception of one short scene, I found the movie boring and the characters flat.

Sports movies aren’t my genre to begin with, but I can always get into a good story.  Raging Bull just didn’t have one, it didn’t have much of a story at all.   After reading Jake LaMotta’s autobiography, Robert De Niro was so compelled by the story that he pressured Scorsese into making the film.  De Niro admitted the book wasn’t very good, and I really don’t know what about LaMotta was compelling. The film didn’t really go anywhere, plot or character wise. LaMotta was hot tempered, had trouble with the mob, and abused his wife.  That’s the whole film. I just saved you 2 hours, 9 minutes.

By the time I was old enough to really get into movies, Robert De Niro’s career of “bad boy” characters was well past its heyday, and he was either playing older, mild mannered roles  (think Analyze This, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Meet the Parents, etc.) or the “old cop” role. It is a completely different experience to go into seeing De Niro in this role, with the knowledge and context of his later-career filmography, than it would have been to see this film fresh at the time it was released.  It’s a difficulty I have with most of the movies on the list, because I feel that many of them were creative and innovative in ways I’ll never notice, because my viewing is colored by so many later films and performances.

I do have to give De Niro credit for his brilliant acting in the jail scene.  There’s not much I can say to explain it with any real justice, you should watch it yourself.


Movies that will make you miserable

I like dark movies, and have a slightly morbid sense of humor. Every once in a while, I unwittingly select a film that blasts right on by “dark” all the way to “there is no hope for humanity, you might as well throw yourself off a building now.”

This is my list of miserable, miserable films.  I watched them so you don’t have to. Ever.




BATMAN is filming in downtown Pittsburgh right now!

Word on the street is that traffic was miserable on Friday, and that for many, the 5 minute drive out of town took nearly 2 hours.  I was on vacation on Friday, sitting on the BEACH instead of sitting in my car and swearing at the rusted out Impala in front of me, moving nowhere.  I win.

Batman Returns will forever and ever and ever be my most favorite Batman.

Tim Burton! Danny DeVito! A giant yellow duck! Everything about Batman Returns is the BEST. Except for the part where the Penguin bites off that guys nose, because that part is gross.

Michele Pfeiffer was a perfect Catwoman.

Instead of any of the other 18,000 Batman villains they could pick for a debut performance, they’re giving us CatWoman again.  Except this time, it’s Anne Hathaway.


I”ll give Hathaway credit for her excellent work in Rachel Getting Married (note: don’t watch that movie if you are getting married in the near future. I learned the hard way that it will dramatically magnify your OMG-WEDDING-STRESS), but all of her other work bores me to tears.  Here’s to hoping she doesn’t destroy the franchise.


AFI Top 100

I have a bit of a head start on this goal, since in the summer of 2003 (?) I tried to watch all the movies on all of AFI’s lists.  I didn’t finish any of the lists, but I did see a LOT of really good movies.  Now several years later it’s time for me to tie up this loose end and at least finish the 100 Years 100 Movies list.