Art is hard. I’m posting this trailer only moments after watching Tim’s Vermeer, the impressive new documentary by Teller (of “Penn &…”) about an engineer and inventor’s quest to replicate Johannes Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.” Which he does. After spending roughly 1,800 days painstakingly recreating the exact circumstances he believed were used in the creation of Vermeer’s painting, this non-artist (or non-painter, anyway) creates an astounding replica. It’s an extended fit of intellectual curiosity more than a work of passion, but the end result is closer than most people get to recapturing the skill of a true master.
I mention this because the trailer at the top of this article may appear to be another telling of the Jake LaMotta story—an unsuccessful replica of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, if you will—but it is, in fact, a sequel. An unauthorized sequel that, had its producers not been sued by MGM, would have been called “Raging Bull 2,” rather than, The Bronx Bull* (another LaMotta moniker). And when you see images like the one below, it’s hard to imagine that ever, in a million years, happening. Not down to any legal wrangling of material, but out of pure, artistic respect for the real fucking thing.
Sometimes, when you put the time and effort into replicating a masterwork, you become a different kind of master in the process. Most of the rest of the time, you become the guy who directed The Rage: Carrie 2 or The Birds 2: Land’s End. This looks like an example of the latter.
*It’s worth noting that LaMotta himself “wrote” a sequel to his book, “Raging Bull” and called it “Raging Bull II: Continuing The Story of Jake LaMotta,” which answers the question, “Where do you get the balls big enough to name your movie Raging Bull 2?” The answer: They were adapting that book.