Bringing Out the Dead (Scorsese, 1999)

Bringing Out The Dead pic 2
A rambling visual feast from director Martin Scorsese and cinematographer Robert Richardson, rapidly paced to maximize the extreme nature of Nicholas Cage’s mental breakdown. There’s so much to admire in Bringing Out the Dead one tends to forgive some of the ambivalent story elements, like the repetitive supporting players and the monotonous character performed by Patricia Arquette. Schrader’s script is deceptively simple, depending on three contrasting partners to counter Cage and his decline. And Scorsese uses John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore masterfully, each serving as a potent double to the film’s conflicted hero. The film contrasts colors in beautiful ways, especially forging vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges against the dark New York City skyline which always holds a menace of mortality on the horizon. Sometimes Scorsese, like Spielberg, can get away with minor glitches more than others because he’s so damn good at directing, and Bringing Out the Dead, while mostly an excellent slice of guilt and retribution, is a prime example of a master craftsman showing his stripes over and over again simply because he can.

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