"Raging Bull" (****)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
A rather important dot to be crossed off my gargantuan in scope list of films I have yet to see, "Raging Bull" is one of the films that Martin Scorsese is most famed for, and for rather good reason. The film is so meticulously, at times grotesquely, debasing of the title character's fame and ego. There are rather few non-essential factors in the mix of this film, the makeup being transformative, though still disconcerting, since there's the subtle feeling that Robert De Niro isn't supposed to look like that. The editing is so utterly veracious and aggressive, as with the best of sports-oriented cinema. De Niro's performance, so repudiating of redemption in favor of honesty to the point of destruction. Scorsese, only dialing up the flash and flair when it is truly and ultimately necessary, which is something he tends to forget nowadays. Damn near immaculate in its construction.
"Barry Lyndon" (****)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Quite easily the most overlooked and under-appreciated film in Stanley Kubrick's rather short pantheon of work, the small details and slow effectiveness of "Barry Lyndon" only really starts sinking in upon further viewings. Ryan O'Neal does seem to break the tradition of Kubrick-esq performances, but he more represents a Channing Tatum of his own time. His dramatic tendencies serve best in tight comedic terms, but not to the point of them being utterly superfluous. The extended sufferings of this character with no home, family, or true identity, is as entertaining as it is non-consoling towards its title character. The pace moves smoothly across with masterful deliberation on Kubrick's part. Never have such precise and finicky movements been shown with so much passion. Buckle under the emotional weight of a final scene dictating a character signing her name on a piece of paper.