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Bringing out the Dead

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Bringing out the Dead

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genres: Drama, Comedy

*Also starring: Tom Sizemore, John Goodman, Marc Anthony, Ving Rhames

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Martin Scorsese is one of our most respected auteurs but this hollow melodrama is a major misfire. Marking the fourth collaboration between Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader, it's an adaptation of Joe Connelly's novel about the rescues and failures of a New York City paramedic. Nicolas Cage plays a tormented EMS worker on the graveyard shift in Hell's Kitchen who, in a week of full moons, is so sleep-deprived that he wants nothing more than to be fired. Subsisting on whiskey and cigarettes with an occasional pizza, he's a hyperactive adrenaline-junkie, spiked by the surreal filth and loathing that surround him and haunted by the face of an underage girl named Rose whom he once failed to rescue. One night, this burnt-out wannabe hero punches life back into the cardiac arrested chest of Mr. Burke, while striking up a relationship with the man's estranged, ex-junkie daughter, Patricia Arquette (Cage's real-life wife). As opposed to a plot, the film consists of aimless, loosely connected episodes narrated by Cage, working with a series of wacko partners. There's John Goodman, who's resigned to holding on to his sanity amidst the blood, pain, and despair; Tom Sizemore, who's heavily into violence against the parasites of humanity; and Ving Rhames, who fancies himself infused with the Holy Spirit. The camera technique is tricky, the pace frantic, and the sound track filled with pop music with a thumping bass. The eccentric characters say weird things which may relate to guilt and redemption but that's not too clear. And there's a crazy "Isn't-this-cool?" attitude when you realize that Scorsese voices the ambulance dispatcher. But that's it. Nothing more. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Bringing Out the Dead" is a chaotic, wretched, frenzied 3. It's so cool, it's stone cold.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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