Actresses Penelope Ann Miller, Natasha Henstridge and Alicia Witt have joined the cast of the Raging Bull sequel.
Martin Landau's daughter Juliet, Twin Peaks star Ray Wise, Paul Sorvino and Joe Mantegna are also onboard the project, which will feature William Forsythe as boxer Jake LaMotta.
The film - a sequel to Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese's 1980 classic - starts shooting this summer (12), according to movie news website MovieHole.net.
Hollywood's most famous movie boxers, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone are reportedly in talks to strap on their gloves again to play ageing fighters in a new comedy called Grudge Match. De Niro portrayed Jake LaMotta in cult classic Raging Bull, while Stallone played Rocky Balboa in the Rocky films.
Argentinian director Martin Guigui has started production on a follow-up to Scorsese's classic 1980 biopic, which starred Robert De Niro as professional boxer Jake LaMotta.
However, Scorsese has moved swiftly to distance himself from the project, and admits he can't imagine why anyone would want to make another installment.
He tells GQ magazine, "(There's) nothing I could say about it except I don't think I could revisit the material, as they say. I think we said what we had to say at that time. All of us moved on. Different aspects of the same story basically keep making the rounds... Rise and fall and self-destruction and the suffering and somehow coming through, in some cases. Coming through the suffering so that you change in a way...
"Ultimately, at the end of Raging Bull, he's looking in a mirror and he's at comfort (sic) with himself, to a certain extent. He's not fighting, he's not beating himself up. That's all. So, I don't know where they're going to go...
"I think it is (complete) in terms of the time and place that it covered from him on stage, that's entertainment to him at the mirror at the end of the story and telling those aspects of his life. Yes. I really don't know what Raging Bull II would be."
Opening this week, the mixed martial arts movie Warrior follows all the rules of a boxing movie. Mixed martial arts is basically the boxing of our day, and for it to be good, it has to be good in the way boxing movies are good. And what does that mean?
In criticizing David O. Russell’s eminently classical boxing movie The Fighter, a friend of mine said, “All boxing movies are the same—it always comes down to one last fight, and you always now the hero’s going to win.” That is, of course, true. But like a perfectly executed offensive move in football, classically structure stories work even if you know what’s coming. Boy and girl end up together, the good guy beats the aliens, and the through their trials and tribulations the odd couple find common ground. That’s how it works. And when it’s done well you’re gonna cry. Major chords make you happy. Minor chords make you sad. Aesthetic determinism. Yeah, I said it. I’ll say it again: aesthetic determinism.
It may be that because the central image of a boxing movie is so simple that some people think that the movies themselves are simplistic. All of the work on character and theme and historical whatever end up being represented by two guys in a ring beating each other bloody, and the meaning of the whole thing boils down to who wins the fight. In other words the impact of a fight movie has to do with the moviemaker’s skill in packing that last fight with as much meaning as possible.
Rocky’s pretty simple, but perfectly effective. The Fighter similarly so, with a powerful new level of meaning added when we see that only by incorporating the lessons of his brother Dickey can Mickey win his fight. In Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese creates a kind of anti-boxing movie, ending with Robert DeNiro’s Jake LaMotta shadowboxing backstage at a comedy club.
My favorite ending to a boxing movie is in Martin Ritt’s 1970 film version of Howard Sackler’s masterful play The Great White Hope. The movie tells the story of Jack Jefferson, a thinly veiled version of legendary African-American boxer Jack Johnson. James Earl Jones plays Jefferson with a studied power, giving a performance that earned him a Tony and Academy nod.
Sackler and Ritt spend their efforts on solid character-based storytelling rather than historicizing and moralizing – and their choices lead to a taught, harrowing, and perfectly told story of freedom and love. That said, Ken Burns called his documentary on Jack Johnson Unforgivable Blackness, and that’s a lot of what goes on in The Great White Hope.
But it’s a boxing movie, so all of the narrative thrust of the film is contained in the last fight. I won’t give too much away by saying that for Jack Jefferson that last fight is a no-win situation. No matter what he does, he loses. Like Jefferson’s life, like Johnson’s life, like many people’s life, the meaning of the man comes not in whether he wins or loses but in how he fights. It’s a masterful reversal of the notion that winning or losing is what makes the end of a fight movie worthwhile.
Because it’s true that every boxing movie ends the same way. They all end with a fight. But like every other genre form, it’s all about how you use the conventions to tell your own story. Win, lose, whatever, the fight movie when done well can still move you to tears. Even if you know who’s going to win that last fight.
Of all their collaborations I believe that Raging Bull is the crowning achievement of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Sure I enjoy the psychotic character study that is Taxi Driver and the epic scope of Goodfellas as much as the next guy. But Bull with its unique aesthetic tragic narrative and tour de force performances is a love letter to the art of film as well as a gripping tale of soaring victory and devastating loss.
Robbed of its awards glory by Robert Redford’s Ordinary People at the 1981 Oscars ceremony the picture has been studied fastidiously over the years by college students and contemporary filmmakers garnering more praise from each subsequent generation that discovers it. Now film buffs and die-hard fans can learn everything there is to know about the groundbreaking cinematic staple with this 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release. I was legitimately giddy to find this in the mail and the further I dug into the disc’s features the more I was immersed in the New York City of yesteryear and the storied period in which Raging Bull was produced.
Scorsese enthusiasts will treasure a bevy of brand new previously unreleased interviews with the filmmaker in featurettes like “Marty on Film” and “Marty and Bobby” which focus on the director’s love of the medium and the special relationship between him and his one-time muse respectively. There’s so much insight within these interviews you’ll feel like you’ve taken a class in 70s cinema and passed with flying colors by the time they’re completed. Additionally “Reflections on a Classic” and “Remembering Jake” feature interviews with the former fighters who were both friend and foe to the Bronx Bull himself Jake La Motta. In these nostalgic videos the boxers discuss the legacy of the film and its gritty realism in great detail reminiscing both about the hype around the picture itself and how it influenced many of them to get in the ring in the first place.
The commentaries are also very entertaining; with three separate tracks giving three different versions of the story. I found the track with Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker (who won an Oscar for cutting Bull) most engaging. Others may lean toward the Cast & Crew commentary with producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler actors John Turturro and Theresa Saldana cinematographer Michael Chapman and more equally informative; a third track features writers Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader and LaMotta and his nephew Jason Lustig. In total it’s a comprehensive collection of thoughts and opinions on this landmark feature.
But the goodies don’t end there. Even more provocative than the commentaries and featurettes is “Fight Night ” a four-part feature length documentary that chronicles the making of the film. This is one of the best behind-the-scenes documentaries I’ve ever seen partially because of the previously unreleased footage it contains including some De Niro screen test reels that are as ferocious as his filmed performance. If you’re a “special features” kind of guy you’re going to fall in love with “Fight Night.”
As if all that wasn’t enough to sate the appetite of the most well-versed viewer the disc comes with even more vintage footage from way back when including newsreels titled “La Motta Defends The Title” and “De Niro vs. La Motta ” a shot-by-shot comparison of the actor and fighter in the ring. You can also see Cathy Moriarty’s The Tonight Show appearance dated March 27th 1981 just to make you feel all warm inside. You’ll marvel at all the breadth of bonus content available to you with the release but most important is the film itself.
Raging Bull has never been seen in high definition and in this 1080p HD transfer (1.85:1) the stark black and white film stock comes alive right before your eyes. Having seen the film many times I can honestly say that it felt like I was watching it for the very first time when I popped in this Blu-ray. It’s just another compliment to the growing popularity and legitimacy of the format one that is on its way to becoming the standard for home entertainment.
If you’ve never seen Martin Scorsese’s violent opus now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to this classic cinematic experience. This is an anniversary collector’s item worthy of the film’s legacy. It will undoubtedly change the way you see motion pictures…and change is a good thing.
MGM may not be in great shape as a modern day studio, but that's certainly not hurting the continued release of some of their most cherished films on Blu-ray. This week offers up new Anniversary Editions of Raging Bull and Dances With Wolves, the latter of which is available for the first time in HD (in the US, at least). The specific features found on these respective sets is outlined below, but they're comprehensive enough that they're worth checking out even if you're not particularly a fan of the films themselves (here's looking at you, Dances With Wolves).
If heavy dramas aren't up your alley, however, Piranha 3D hits shelves this week (in both 2D and 3D flavors). It's by no means a great movie, but it delivers on everything you expect from a movie called Piranha 3D. And then there's Robinson Crusoe on Mars on Criterion Blu, which is a welcome blast from the past.
Oh, and some movie called The Social Network comes out on Blu-ray this week. Have you heard of it?
Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition (MGM, $19.99)
The Movie: I'm in no position to declare Raging Bull to be Martin Scorsese's most personal film, but it certainly feels that way. The whole production just heaves with the kind of passion and fury you only see when a filmmaker cuts a piece of themselves off and makes a film out of it. And I realize that's a strange thing to say considering this is a biopic about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta, a man whose easily riled temper and inarticulate nature is the exact opposite of Scorsese's, but every delivery found in Raging Bull - be it from the mouth of an actor or from the movement of the camera - feels as though it was anguished over. This is a film that just sweats exasperation.
But it's not an angry film. Its cinematic fervor isn't a condemnation of the beast that is LaMotta; it's not a seething portrait of a man out of control. No, Raging Bull is a fascinating, superbly crafted study of man as a modern day animal. It's also one of the very best films of Scorsese's career.
The Features: And what a set of features MGM have put together for this 30th Anniversary Edition. It carries over all of the supplementals from the previous Blu-ray release (themselves holdovers from DVD), but it also comes with five new featurettes, four of which were produced just for this release (the fifth being Cathy Moriarty's appearance on The Tonight Show to promote the film) and are available in crisp HD. Of the new features, the highlight is certainly "Marty on Film," a one-on-one wherein Scorsese explains the importance and strength of film as an art form and what made him fall in love with it. The rest of the exclusive new features are mainly of the self-congratulatory kind, but they don't come off as so self-serving thanks to interviews with various filmmakers who are all eager to heap praise on Raging Bull and explain how it helped shape their films.
But even with those new features, and even with three separate commentary tracks, the real treasure of the disc (aside from the film itself, of course), is an 82-minute making-of that goes into great depth with all involved. If you already own previous Raging Bull releases, chances are you've already been exposed to its four parts, but it's still a must watch for anyone who loves the film.
Who Should Buy It: That's simple: Scorsese fans. Even if Raging Bull doesn't rank as one of your favorites, the amount of quality special features on this set essentially form a love letter to Scorsese.
"Actually they came up to me for Raging Bull at one point. The guy, Jake LaMotta, came up to me. I said, 'You can't be serious.'" DUSTIN HOFFMAN jokes about being offered the iconic boxing role which earned his MEET THE FOCKERS co-star ROBERT DE NIRO the Best Actor Oscar in 1980.
De Niro famously put on five stone (70 pounds) to play fallen boxer Jake LaMotta in the 1980 movie, and Moriarty - who played his wife, Vikki - gorged on her favourite cheesecake and milkshakes to support her co-star's efforts.
But the actress, who was just 18 when she was cast in the role, eventually had to leave De Niro to binge on his own - because the fatty diet was ruining her figure.
She tells BlackBookMag.com, "I played (Vikki) from ages 15 to 35, so it was kind of hard. But it was a hell of a lot harder for Bob to gain all of that weight. As he transitioned, he started drinking milkshakes and eating cheesecake, which I loved having also. Then I realised my a** was getting fat and I told him he had to gain the weight by himself!"
Moriarty landed her first movie role in Martin Scorsese's 1980 boxing epic, but the director insisted she was banned from speaking to the real-life boxer's wife to avoid influencing her portrayal.
After the shoot ended, the actress was so desperate to find out if she had played the part correctly, she visited Vikki LaMotta in Florida - and they became best pals until LaMotta's death five years ago (05).
Moriarty tells BlackBookMag.com, "We had sent each other letters back and forth, but (the Raging Bull producers) didn't want us speaking because the movie was shot through Jake's eyes and not hers. Since the movie wasn't really about her, maybe they felt that I wasn't ready to handle meeting her.
"If she came to the set, they made sure I wasn't there. They definitely did not want me speaking with her or meeting her. Once the movie was over, I flew down to Florida and stayed with Vikki for a couple of days. We stayed great friends until she passed away a week or two before the twenty-fifth anniversary of Raging Bull. She did say to me, 'I'm very proud. You did a good job. I liked me.'"
Moriarty was an unknown 18 year old when Martin Scorsese cast her opposite De Niro in the boxing movie, which charts the life of ring king Jake LaMotta.
The teenager was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and went on to enjoy a successful film and TV career - and she's adamant De Niro's words of advice on set have helped her ever since.
She tells BlackBookMag.com, "I learned one thing from De Niro: He taught me to listen. Nobody says anything strictly from the script. It's improvised. It was the best piece of advice I have ever gotten in my life. It has helped me through the past thirty years."