Matthew Lickona 2:57 p.m., May 17
A lunkhead of a movie about an apparent lunkhead of a man, former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta. Despite a number of Expressionistic and lyrical outbursts, a dull-minded realism rules this movie. And even the lyricism is dull-minded: the use of slow-motion to heighten the impact of the pulverizing and overamplified punches in the ring, or to heighten the sex appeal of La Motta's blonde-bombshell wife as she kicks her feet in a glimmering outdoor swimming pool or as she moves across a nightclub dance floor -- this sort of thing is straight out of TV commercials, the sexiest woman in the Herman Joseph's ad being the one who moves the slowest. The whole-hog (so to speak) commitment to realism is best exemplified by Robert De Niro's much publicized, sixty-pound weight gain to portray the older La Motta. But equally raw and unimaginative realism is everywhere apparent in the refusal to impose any moral or intellectual attitude, or even any narrative nicety, onto this formless scrapbook biography, so that at the end you have to pretend that the acquisition of sixty pounds qualifies as a dramatic climax. Directed by Martin Scorsese. 1980.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated R | 2 hours, 8 minutes