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Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
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Review Date: October 24, 1999
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Paul Schrader
Producers: Barbara DeFina, Scott Rudin
Actors:
Nicolas Cage
Patricia Arquette
Plot:
A stressed-out ambulance medic finds himself haunted by the ghosts of people whose lives he was not able to save during his fast-paced graveyard shifts. The film takes place over a period of 48 hours in which the man essentially moves from one emergency situation to another.
Critique:
Think a softer, kinder, less psychotic, and much longer TAXI DRIVER! This underlying story behind this film is no different than many others that you have already seen. A man obsessed by the mistakes from his past, feels guilty and attempts to finds redemption in his present state. Much like TAXI DRIVER, the man in this case drowns himself in drink, finds little time to sleep and gets fixated on "saving" a girl. Much unlike TAXI DRIVER, this film doesn't have much depth, doesn't carry broad political or social connotations, and does not feature an actor completely engrossed in his character. Don't get me wrong, I thought Cage did a good job as the burnt-out, over-worked stressball, but nothing could really compare to DeNiro's possession of Travis Bickle. But I suppose that's another review altogether. All in all, I thought this was actually a pretty good movie with some good performances from the leads, and some even better showings from supporting characters such as Marc Anthony, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore and the drug dealer, Cliff Curtis.

The story itself is not necessarily overpowering, in fact, it basically just moves along its path, predictably strolling down certain emotional avenues, until its final resting spot at the conclusion, which we all foresee early on. Repetitive it is as well, with the basic story essentially featuring Cage et buddy flying from one crisis scene to the next. Thankfully for us, director Martin Scorsese looked waaaay down into his visual bag o' tricks and came up with many new and unique camera games with which to amuse us during the film's two hour runtime. A runtime which basically outlasts its visit by about 20 minutes or so. You can actually feel the last half hour go by, as opposed to the general rapid pace of the first hour and a half. For Martin Scorsese fans, this one should be seen if only for its excellent stylish demonstrations. Cage fans should also check it out as he basically reverts back to his pre-action star days, a la LEAVING LAS VEGAS (9/10), when he actually did some interesting work as an actor. But for everyone else, I can't say that this will be a film that will draw you in with its meaningful story or original undertones. If you enjoy new ways of shooting film or creating motion across a movie arc, then you might also want to see this flick, but overall, I wouldn't recommend it to your "basic movie-going audience". Scorsese and style fans only! Now don't make me take off my glasses!!
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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