Matt Wilson wrote:Taxi Driver wasn't a blockbuster.
No, it wasn't- at least not in the Jaws, Exorcist or the Godfather sense- but it was a major hit in the context of the time. One of the top grossing films of 1976, in fact. But that's what I was getting at- for all the critical acclaim and influence of the "Movie Brat" generation, most of them were able to keep making the movies they did during the 1970s because in retrospect, the studios had no idea how to combat falling revenues and the continual dominance of television. Once Jaws and especially Star Wars came along, they were onto a winner- but looking back at the notices for both, no one expected them to be the major hits that they were. The production history for both was dire, it was remarkable they came out looking as good as they did.
D'avey wrote:I struggled with whether to put Raging Bull on my list or not. It has always been a film that left me colder than it probably should. I have no issue around whether it glamorizes La Motta or not. Our culture glamorizes guys like him - in a sense, not really wanting to look at the implications of the savagery we expect of him professionally. Of course Mike Tyson would ultimately come along and bring up those questions, but I'm not sure we collectively looked too deep into our culpability in his crimes.
Ultimately I suppose I just never felt that Raging Bull led me to any questions that bugged me enough to keep chewing on it. Maybe I should try again.
I think Scorsese is both fascinated and repulsed by the guy in equal measure- as more than one person has pointed out in the past, why would you do a biopic on the guy who got beat by Sugar Ray Robinson, arguably the forerunner to Ali? The balletic boxing scenes aside, and admittedly, the gorgeously crisp b&w cinematography (it's probably his best-looking film), it 's a grimy and often unpleasant picture in terms of its actual milieu. And Jake is ultimately revealed to be an absolute shell of a man who destroys everything around him. Where the admiration comes through in Scorsese's work, is literally the guy's ability to take as many hits as he does. There's a masochistic streak that runs through so many of his films, it arguably reached its height in the Last Temptation of Christ.