on 31 May 2004
With uncanny echoes of Travis Bickle's escapades in Taxi Driver, Scorcese gives us another tale of the mean streets of New York, and some of the lowlife who inhabit them. The characters are just as colourful, if a little undeveloped, as they were in Taxi Driver, and the storylines meander a little, reflecting the different themes at play in a film with such a setting.
Cage's character is someone we empathise with, or at least anyone who has a love-hate relationship with their job does. He begs is boss to give him the sack, but alas, they are so short-staffed it's impossible! Not a lot of funny moments abound though, it's mostly heavy social observation stuff. Punctuated as it is by the odd genuine-looking bit of violence and gore.
The music sets the scene brilliantly, with offerings from REM and the Clash among others, as the ambulance speeds through the city, racing to save the hapless citizens of New York. In parts it is haunting, like when Sinatra comes on the speakers, and helps to bring a dead guy back to life. Not a bad morning's work!
on 24 February 2002
I loved this film and it woke me up to Nicholas Cage. I have wanted to see everything he has done because of this film. It is so atmospheric and I physically felt the heat and dirt of the city, as well as the despair of the job. One of the best examples of the director's skills.
will watch it again and again therefore it must be good.
This Martin Scorsese film is another masterpiece of film making, but it's oh so bleak! Having read the novel by Joe Connelly, I knew what to expect, but it was clear that the cinema audience I originally watched it with had no idea that it would be so dark & relentless. Yet there are a few moments of absolute comedy which give a few moments relief before diving back into more bleakness.
The film follows burned out paramedic Frank Pierce, brilliantly played by Nicholas Cage, over the course of three night shifts in Hells Kitchen, New York. Everyone they pick up is dead or dying, drunk, a junkie, homeless, or just plain mad. Frank hasn't saved a life in months, and it haunts him. Cage's co-stars John Goodman, Ving Rhames and Tom Sizemore all give good performances as his three partners on his shifts in the ambulance. Add in the gritty reality of the hospital - ER it certainly ain't!
Nicholas Cage's now ex-wife, Patricia Arquette, plays Mary, the daughter of a heart attack victim Frank saves only for him to become a vegetable. As she comes to terms with that, she and Frank become closer, and the film ends with a faint glimmer of hope for them. If you can survive your emotions being put through the wringer, you might just come out at the end of this feel feeling that your own life is beautiful. Don't let that stop you seeing this though - it's a gem of a film, but not an enjoyable one; watch it to for excellent performances and Scorsese trademarks.
on 6 August 2000
I wasn't sure what to expect when i rented this DVD, I'm a big cage fan but had read some very mixed reviews.What i got was a superb performance from cage in a very disturbing, gritty and in some parts funny movie. Not one for the main stream audiance,but if you like Nicolas cage,gritty movies and Scorsese films this is a must see.Great perfomances all round a good sound track and in your face film making!
Frank Pierce is a member of the Nork York paramedics, serving the Hell's Kitchen district he is witness to some terrible incidents. As he starts to crack under the pressure of the job, and getting no help from a succession of zany partners, Frank may just find solace with an ex-junkie girl who's father he brought in dying of a heart attack.
Martin Scorsese can never be accused of not being adventurous, after dabbling in Eastern spiritualism with 1997s Kundun, he returns to New York and tackles a wing of America's tortured heroes. Based on the novel by Joe Connelly, Bringing Out The Dead is at times a difficult watch in many ways, but it's haunting poignancy is told with brilliantly adroit ease from one of America's famed directors, whilst it has to be said that the humour that is in there is darkly genius in its execution. We are along for the ride with haunted Frank for three days (and nights) as he and his borderline bonkers partners deal with overdoses, heart attacks, drunks and a notably cynical virgin birth! As Frank starts to see ghosts of people he couldn't save in the past, Scorsese and his team treat us to an adrenalin fuelled nightmare, the editing (Thelma Schoonmaker) is swift and explosive like, Robert Richardson's cinematography framing certain aspects of this journey with impacting deftness, and then we have the soundtrack.
Scorsese is always a man who takes great care in sound tracking his movies, in fact few modern day directors can touch his knack for a perfect soundtrack. Fusing Motown with 70s Punk Rock would seem an odd combination, but all of it works as the paramedics start to feel the strain and (in some cases) as the mania takes hold. It's rare to hear a New York Dolls track in a movie, to hear a Johnny Thunders solo track is as rare as a dog that speaks Norwegian, and here the use of Thunders' You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory is pitch perfect, impacting so. Such is the use of early Clash standards as our protagonists feed off each others precarious mental conditions, it's a soundtrack to savour basically.
Nicholas Cage plays Frank Pierce, and it's a great performance full of restraint and honesty, it's the sort of performance that his detractors tend to forget about such is its emotive simplicity. Tom Sizemore (wonderfully manic), Ving Rhames, John Goodman and Patricia Arquette fill out the cast and all do fine work, but I'm sure they would be the first to acknowledge the excellence of Paul Schrader's screenplay. This piece is far from being a masterpiece, but with it's intensity sitting side by side with a paramedics need for coping, it's clear that Scorsese and his talented team have made one of the most astute and undervalued pieces of the 90s. 9/10
on 30 January 2004
The shadow of those more familiar modern classics (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) will always hang over this film, but I found the critical cold shoulder it received quite impossible to understand.
Bringing out the dead resonates with the speed and collapse of an amphetamine. The blue tinge, the grey faces and Cage's deadpan stupor all seem to suggest some quiet apocalypse, and that is what makes it so special. The silence, and the wonder. Through his mini-epiphanies we are given a fast-track into the mind of Cage's world-weary medic, and we share his pain, but more importantly we share the fleeting hits of glory that he feels.
Cage ponders, on saving a life, the change that it commands in him, for it feels as though 'God has passed through you.' And you too will believe for a moment that He has.
on 23 September 2002
At the metaphorical level, this is a film about the works of mercy. If you weren't brought up a catholic, you might not know them: there are seven corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbour the harbourless, visit the sick, free the prisoners and bury the dead, and seven spritual works of mercy: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offences willingly, comfort the afflicted and pray for the living and the dead.
If you remember all this, all scenes that at first seem a bit weird or contrived will now fall into place.
The main theme is explicitly mentioned by Ving Rhames when they revive I.B. Banging in the middle of the second act:
"First you come to love, then you go to Mercy" or in other words, you can not perform works of mercy as an automatism, because then they loose all meaning. Which is what's wrong with Nick Cage's character: his heart isn't in it anymore.
on 10 June 2012
Yep I know he's made his share of scenery chewing turkeys (snake eyes anyone?), and sometimes assumes that uber whacky is arty but.... when Mr Cage gets it right its a joyus if unsettling ride, Wild at heart springs to mind, not everyones cup of tea I'll admit, but I loved, and proof he could really act a la Leaving Las Vegas. So when I heard about this slight oddity directed by a fine fella such as Martin Scorsese and starring Nick Cage as a ghost seeing Ambulance driver, hmmm I've got to admit my slightly sceptical eyebrows were raised. I needn't have worried. Not a classic maybe, but more thoughtful than it first appears, it bears repeat views as you tend to take in the fine supporting cast and the other nuances of the production. And having watched the doc about the real life Paramedic you can see where the film was going. A cut above most hollywood bilge and with a fine heart. Dont be put off by the very negative reviews, take a punt, it was the same for the star and director, a risk maybe, but damn it the son's of gun's pull it off.
on 31 January 2001
As a story, this film may not seem to have much happening, but, when you find out that Scorsese co - wrote with Paul Schrader(Taxi driver), it is practically given that this is going to be classic Scorsese at his best. And B.O.T.D does not disappoint. In an all-round excellent cast, Nicholas Cage shines as paramedic Frank Pierce. He is complemented perfectly by a brilliant supporting cast, incl. Ving Rhames and my favourite salsa star, Marc Anthony, whom impressed me greatly with his portrayal of psychotic patient, Noel. As with all of Scorsese's films the soundtrack is obviously very well thought- out, and is possibly one of the finest of the year. B.O.T.D brings back some the drug- fuelled scenes that we remember so well in Taxi Driver, reminding us that nobody films New York at night like Scorsese. Overall, a huge success, but we all knew that didn't we?
on 25 January 2013
I'm giving this 3 stars, as, for what it is, it is well made mostly, but I don't think up to Scorcese's usual standard.
The pain and suffering was a bit too relentless, though I am not against being shown what many of our unfortunate fellows have to suffer. But the main character Frank's reaction to it all seemed a bit too uneven and incoherant at times, though again maybe that's how it is for some. I just found it hard to engage with him.
It had some good episodes, and I watched all 2 hours of it, to see how the story turned out, and Patricia Arquette is always good to watch. But I didn't find it entertaining, if that's what you're expecting.