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!
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.
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
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.