to TAXI DRIVER and NEW YORK, NEW YORK is yet another examination of
humanity's dark side, starring Robert De Niro as real-life boxer Jake
La Motta. Scorsese, believing this might be his last film,
it all he has, using every camera, sound and editing technique under
the sun to tell his story, but never to show off.
De Niro, who brought this project to Scorsese's attention, gives his most powerful screen performance as the obsessively jealous and self-destructive La Motta, who begins the film as a contender for the middleweight title and ends as a washed-up has-been introducing strippers and reciting Marlon Brando's dialogue from ON THE WATERFRONT for a living. It is yet another movie where Scorsese introduces us to an extremely unpleasant man and then shows us, in excruciating detail, how much farther this man has to fall. We are asked to spend two hours with a person whom we would not want to spend thirty seconds with with in real life. We are given no reason to sympathize with De Niro's La Motta, who is physically, verbally and spiritually repulsive. Yet Scorsese's amazing gifts as a filmmaker and De Niro's riveting portrayal of La Motta make RAGING BULL one of the greatest movies of the '80s. But not one of the most entertaining. - JB