Sunday, November 20, 2005

Knock Yourself Out

This weekend I saw Robert DeNiro literally act his guts out in 'Raging Bull', Martin Scorsese's landmark 1980 film centered on the angry, paranoiac, failed figure that was middleweight champion boxer Jake La Motta. De Niro, who staged 8 intense fight scenes with no double (so intense you're surprised to learn their total running time is 10 minutes). He also, famously, gained 65 lbs for the film's final third, which chronicles La Motta's over-the-hill going-to-seed period, reduced to performing a stand-up routine based on his notoreity, Lola Montes with boxing gloves. He received a well-deserved Oscar for his trouble.

Full Disclosure: I find boxing appalling, cruel, masochistic, and often sickening. Does it fill a societal need, and vicariously discharge the latent violence of The Young and The Over-Testosteroned? It's certainly a throw-back to our animalistic past, or inner selves.

Moreover, I don't like particularly like pathologically violent and jealous wife-beating ignoramus types either. That's why I could never truly embrace The Sopranos, which I perused for a season. That program has wit, insight, and edge, but I just didn't choose to spend a hundred hours with such boorish people. I prefered the company of Six Feet Under's Fisher family, equally dsyfunctional, yes, but closer to my own temperment and sensibilities.

Final note: In one scene, La Motta, married to a platinum-blonde, low-brow abused wife, battles and knocks out France's Marcel Cedran to win the middleweight champion - Cedran's own woman was also no stranger to the streets, but was of far higher cultural value and impact - none other than Edith Piaf! (see the lovely film Edith & Marcel...). Cedran died in a plane crash the following year...

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