Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Marc Anthony, Mary Beth Hurt, Cliff Curtis, Nestor Serrano, Aida Turturro, Larry Fessenden
Written by: Paul Schrader, based on a novel by Joe Connelly
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
MPAA Rating: R for gritty, violent content, drug use and language
Running Time: 121
Date: 10/22/1999

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Siren Song

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Martin Scorsese's new movie is both amazing and darkly hilarious. It chronicles a few days in the life of an exhausted, haunted ambulance driver (Nicolas Cage) in his world of flashing lights, sirens, ghosts, and nightmares. He's in a slump; he hasn't saved a life in weeks. He's tormented by visions of an 18-year-old girl named Rose whom he failed to save. He calls himself a "grief mop."

Patricia Arquette co-stars as a victim's daughter. Cage revives her father by playing Frank Sinatra, then brings him to the hospital, which makes the hospital in "ER" look like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980). John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore are all great as Cage's co-drivers. They all seem to have gone a little mad to cope with the job.

Bringing Out the Dead is a savage movie, full of loud noise and rock and roll (and two Clash songs). It whizzes by in an intoxicating, pulsating blaze. Bringing Out the Dead marks Scorsese's fourth collaboration with screenwriter Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ), who adapted Joe Connelly's novel. It's exhilarating, but it makes you hope to God that you never get sick.

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