Projections - Movie Reviews

Bringing out the Dead

If you are a Scorsese fan you are in for a treat!  If you are not...well it is an OK experience.

Scorsese fans will be treated to wonderful screen images we have come to expect.  His brilliant use of reds add a dimension that is thrilling!  His ability to capture the "true" street grit is amazing!  The opening shot of a New York street at night, leading to a closeup of the drawn and hollow eyes of the driver are reminiscent of Taxi Driver.

These eyes belong to a New York City paramedic named Frank Pierce, played by Nicholas Cage.  Pierce drives the grave yard shift and is not only appalled by what he encounters, he is attracted - addicted to it.  The addiction is the rush he feels when he saves someone and has reached a point where Pierce wants to save anyone just to soothe his conscience.  The problem is that he has not saved anyone in quite some time.

While this is the theme of the movie, there is little other than the wonderful film technique to keep you attracted here.  Cage rides with various companions the best of which is John Goodman.  All of his "side kicks" attempt humor.  Attempt is the key word here.  The "humor" degrades the scenes and all those in them.  The use of Scorsese's voice for the dispatcher is a cute touch as he comes across as an erie disembodied being.  The addition of Cage's real life wife, Patricia Arquette, just did not work here.  The thought of Cage being the savior of her character's father, only to watch him suffer had some great possibilities.  None were taken advantage of though.   Much like the on screen relation shown by Cruise and Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut, there was absolutely no chemistry here.

There were a couple of surprises by relative unknowns.  Cliff Curtis plays a true villain as a drug dealer named Cy Coates with absolutely no conscience and no morals.  Coates is in two very memorable scenes which I feel were the best in the movie.  A drug dealer always needs a buyer and singer Mark Anthony portrays a habitually strung out street dweller and what a job he does.  This was a pleasant surprise.

To give this movie its due, you need to remember that police, soldiers, piolets and yes even paramedics live a life few of us would ever choose.  The physical danger they place themselves in daily causes such pressure few can truly imagine.  I can well imagine that humor, especially dark humor, can be used as a release for people in these positions, but played as it was here, it was forced and nerve wracking.  To say the visuals were dramatic is an understatement.  Scorsese has the ability to bring to film what a city or a street not only look like, but make you actually feel the noise, the dirt, the tension.  This is one saving grace for Bringing Out The Dead.

Bringing out the Dead


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