Bringing Out the Dead Screen 5 articles

Bringing Out the Dead

1999

Bringing Out the Dead Poster
  • Venturing nightly into these depths, Frank Pierce finds his soul stained darker and darker, and the pitch-black backdrop of a forsaken modern Gomorrah is a fittingly nasty place for Scorcese’s last Schrader collabo / grossest film since their first. It’s a bookend, a reminder of how things may change aesthetically but not fundamentally, how the nobodies get pushed further to the margins, away from our everyday lines of sight, shoved under the rug before being swept away forever.

  • Clearly, Bringing Out the Dead does not need to be rescued from oblivion; it needs to be resuscitated. Let's start by calling it a comedy. I would argue that Dead will be slow to claim “classic” status unless we develop a fuller appreciation of its outlandish gallows humor, as well as its caustic mix of sacred and profane sensibilities—a Scorsese specialty.

  • Stylized to the hilt, Bringing Out the Dead shows one of the world's greatest directors synthesizing an entire city's extra-conscious masochism into super-charged montage. Bleached colors, gory pathos and one of the best needle-drop soundtracks [Scorsese's] ever assembled.

  • The filmmaking is a balancing act of realism and expressionism. Scorsese, Cage, and screenwriter Paul Schrader all rode with New York paramedics in preparation for DEAD, and the storytelling is inextricably tied to the geography of the city. At the same time, Robert Richardson’s cinematography favors bold colors, Scorsese’s uses of sped-up and slowed-down motion deliberately exaggerate states of being, and the music selections often abstract the onscreen action.

  • It’s abetted by one of Scorsese’s strongest, most undersung casts: Cage, in all of his manic neuroses and awkward charm, is often unseated by Patricia Arquette, Marc Anthony, John Goodman, and Marty himself, dispatching strange calls to the medics that must nevertheless are based in truth. Though Silence has received adulation for rekindling Scorsese’s unrelenting spiritual guilt, he may have peaked with it here.

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