Monday, October 1, 2007

Bringing Out the Dead

Bringing Out the Dead; Drama, USA, 1999; D: Martin Scorsese, S: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Marc Anthony, Mary Beth Hurt

New York is a miserable city for paramedic Frank who drives in an ambulance van and provides help for sick people. His temporary colleague is Larry, and since they work mostly in the night shift, they are constantly tired. They save a man who got a heart attack, help deliever a baby and sometimes gibe drugs to drug adicts. Frank gets a headache and quits, but after five days he takes his old job back. Mary, daughter of a man whose life was saved by Frank, has a relationship with him. Frank sees ghosts who talk to him and tries to save mad Noel. A man dies in front of him and he leaves.

Mediocre paramedic drama "Bringing Out the Dead", fourth and last collaboration of director Martin Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader, disappointed their fans. Figuring he can't direct mafia films all the time since some of his elements have become overused, Scorsese decided to try out a different genre, a normal drama, but the result is shaky and contrived: already the first 10 minutes of the films prove to be dynamic and powerfully directed, but still completely uninteresting, and represent the film as a whole. Scorsese is a director who needs a personal subject he can relate to, and it seems this pseudo "ER" film isn't his kind of thing. He tries everything: fast pace, dark mood, unusual camera tricks (the scene in which the camera travels to the window and stops, giving a shot of a skyscraper and then gives a time jump that switches to night), bleak details and depressing characters, but his inspiration simply can't ignite. The film is only about 10 % inspired and 90 % forced. The story is mostly to blame - a good screenplay is the fundamental detail needed for a film to work, but anyone who reads it's synopsis will conclude that it isn't about anything, just a chaotic mess where the idea of incorporating ghosts as part of Frank's vision was really out of place while the romance subplot is weak. Nicolas Cage can deliver good roles, but when he is in some his "stare phase" he falls into mannerism. Sadly, Scorsese should have took more time to recharge his "batteries", instead of forcefully making a half-hearted film that throws dust into the critics' eyes.


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