After a nice long break, I'm back discussing random observations about the greatest movies ever. I've made it up to the 1980s now, so let's start with the first time Robert DeNiro not only won Best Actor, but also the first time he was partnered up with Joe Pesci.
During the late 90s, when I went through my DeNiro phase and insisted on seeing every movie he was ever in, I stumbled upon this classic which I was always lukewarm about. The positives about this movie are that everything is done well and it's very nit picky if you're going to find fault with anything in this movie. Theoretically, it's an A+ in that regard. The only problem I initially had with it was that when watching it on my VHS tape, I always got frustrated with how loud the fighting scenes were versus how quiet the rest of the movie was.
It was later in life that a friend of my mom's pointed out something about the movie that I've never been able to shake since. It keeps getting worse. No, the movie doesn't really keep getting worse, but Jake LaMotta's life just keeps on getting worse. There's really not a happy ending. Sure, it's great when art imitates life because let's face it, life isn't all smiles and sunshine, and many of us will experience lives that just keep getting worse.
However, in a true classic, you want to be able to re-watch a movie. You don't need a happy ending per say, but putting yourself through something that starts out depressing and gets even more depressing with only psychotic highs throughout (one example is a bloodied DeNiro getting in Sugar Ray Robinson's face after a defeat and say, "You never knocked me down Ray!" while spitting blood) is probably not a healthy decision.
I've probably watched this movie 5 or 6 times in my life, and now the depression really stands out more than anything. Ultimately, here's your story. You have a pretty good boxer, who's good because he can take a beating, that has to take a dive to get a title shot. He's a wife beater who ends up leaving one wife for another younger one, who is allegedly 15 when they meet in the movie. From there, paranoia leads him to believe his brother is screwing around with his wife and destroys that relationship. He gets fat and his boxing career ends, leading to him becoming an owner of a bar. He loses is family as well, not to mention all his money in the divorce to the point he has to break the diamonds from his championship belt which would've been worth more if he sold the belt with the diamonds in tact just to have money to defend himself against statutory rapes charges. He loses that case and is put in the pen.
The happy ending is that he does get out of jail, and gets to keep his bar. That's it though. The family is gone, the fame isn't what it used to be and he's much much older. Why do I want to subject myself to this movie anymore, because it's directed well, and has a helluva performance by DeNiro? See. it's incredible what good acting and directing are capable of, because I want to answer this question with a "yes."