New On Netflix: Raging Bull

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After the embarrassment of New York, New York, Robert De Niro got Martin Scorsese to kick the drugs and the two reunited for this groundbreaking biopic of Jake La Motta. Telling this story allowed Scorsese the perfect framework to explore one of his favorite themes: the churning violence that lurks inside all of us, violence that could cost us our humanity if we ever let it run wild. Jake La Motta was a victim of that violence, letting his rage turn a champion into a loser — and, indeed, a man into an animal, one who could’ve been a “contender,” as he says to his reflection in the mirror as he quotes On the Waterfront during the last scene of the film. Raging Bull is terrific filmmaking; De Niro won an Oscar, Scorsese should’ve gotten one and the boxing scenes have yet to be topped.

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