Bringing Out the Dead [DVD] 
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Frequently Bought Together
Darkly comic drama from the creative team behind 'Taxi Driver'. New York paramedic Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) is close to cracking up: his graveyard shift is taking its toll, and he is tortured by visions of those he could not save from death. Over three successive nights with three different colleagues - Larry (John Goodman), Marcus (Ving Rhames) and Walls (Tom Sizemore) - Frank searches desperately for salvation, seemingly unable to halt his slide into madness and despair.
Reuniting the "dream team" of director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter (and esteemed director in his own right) Paul Schrader--the men who brought you Taxi Driver and Raging Bull--Bringing Out the Dead provoked outrageously high expectations on its theatrical release. But when this brown-paper parcel of a film was unwrapped by critics and film-goers, the collective Christmas-morning sigh of disappointment was all but audible. Sure, there's lots of blood but where are all the guns, the wise guys cracking wise, the filmic fireworks most people expect from a Scorsese movie? But shake the wrapping a bit and out rolls a tiny, perfect parable about New York City ambulance driver Frank (Nicolas Cage) who finds grace just when he seems to have hit rock bottom.
Deprived of sleep, wired on speed of kinds, haunted by visions of a homeless girl he couldn't save, like Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, Frank roams the neon-spackled streets despairing at the decay around him. He's as war-torn by the ravages of the 1980s (the film is set in the early 1990s, before Mayor Giuliani got tough on crime) as Travis was by Vietnam's after effects. But Frank's problem is too much empathy, not alienation, and at least he's not as crazy as his co-drivers--one addicted to food (John Goodman), one to religion (Ving Rhames) and one to drugs and violence (Tom Sizemore)--each colleague more hilarious and frightening than the last. This is a story of a man who thought he could not take it anymore, one wracked by guilt and regret, who ends up being redeemed by--it's a movie cliché, and yet it just about works here--the love of a good woman (Patricia Arquette).
Bringing Out the Dead may lack the glamorous, adolescent angst of Taxi Driver and eschew the rigorous dissection of masculinity that distinguished Raging Bull but it has its own quieter virtues and just as much visual bravura. Watching it on the small screen gives you more time to absorb its moral subtleties, its spectacular time-lapse photography and, like all great Scorsese movies, its hysterical stretches of black humour (Rhames' character's attempt to raise a seemingly dead clubber is a particular highlight). It may not be one of the director's, or even the screenwriter's, best films, but it still towers above most of the dross churned out by Hollywood every year and remains indispensable viewing for anyone serious about cinema. --Leslie Felperin
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
will watch it again and again therefore it must be good.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great service. Arrived when it said it would and in perfect condition. Great movie also. A hidden gem for Scorsese fans. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Norm
Love this movie very much think it's a dark but very entertaining filmPublished 9 months ago by brian nesbit
Scorsese casts Nicholas Cage in this dark film about a paramedic going through a nightmarish graveyard shift this film is well-made but very odd in its story.Published 13 months ago by josh91
As a paramedic I love this film and would love to use some of the lines on my patients.Published 14 months ago by Jonathan Read
Well I love Nicholas Cage so bought this film...oh my life.....don't bother it's the worst film I think he must have ever made! Read morePublished 20 months ago by frankie