Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Bringing out the Dead' Gritty Tale of New York Paramedic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Bringing out the Dead' Gritty Tale of New York Paramedic

Article excerpt

Few people love movies, the glory of movies, the possibilities of movies, more than Martin Scorsese.

And that shows throughout Bringing Out the Dead, his look at a burned-out New York paramedic (Nicolas Cage) who's become a zombie looking for nothing more than a little peace, a quiet place where people aren't bleeding and dying on him.

There's a young filmmaker's exuberance in the thrashing Clash songs on the soundtrack, the speeded-up ambulance lights, the drugged-out hallucination scene. And there's a veteran's touch in the way even the supporting characters get lives of their own, with just a simple wave of their hand or an offhand comment.

Scorsese throws himself into this film, perhaps even more than it demands. Its themes are big, but the story's small, more anecdotal than epic. Think of it as a diary of Cage's paramedic's life, the account of a few days that are just a bit rougher than the ones that came before.

As impressive as Bringing Out the Dead is, you can't help but wish that Scorsese had perhaps brought his aim a little lower: Its epic style doesn't always match the material.

Besides, it's funnier -- in a gallows humor sort of way -- than you might expect. The laughs are pitch black, as dark as it gets, but they work, and make you wish that Scorsese had mined that funky, sardonic streak of humor even more.

The story's set in Newa York's Hell's Kitchen in the early '90s, before New York got all clean and friendly. And these New Yorkers have built up quite a cynical shell, from the cop who guards the entrance to the hospital emergency room to the nurse who, quite frankly, asks drug addicts why she should heal them when they're just going to go shoot up again.

With a screenplay by Paul Schrader, who collaborated with Scorsese on Taxi Driver, it's easy to see this as a companion piece to that earlier movie. …

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