Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Flick Check: Bringing Out the Dead

Flick Check: Bringing Out the Dead: A disappointment. Scorcese directed from a Paul Schrader script so we shoulda had a contender, but it falls flat. This is the story of an EMT in Manhattan who is slowly going crazy from all the chaos and death that surrounds him. It fails on numerous levels and in fact might be the worst movie Scorcese has made. Among the problems are:

• Manhattan is portrayed as if it were still the unmitigated disaster that it was back in the Taxi Driver days. Rings untrue.
• The characters are simply not realistic, they may have been intended to be surreal but that doesn't jibe with the gritty, realistic tone.
• The lead character is haunted by the memory of a homeless girl he could not save and he feels responsible for her death. Lamest clich‚ ever.
• The biggest problem is the lack of dramatization. In Taxi Driver we knew DeNiro was sliding into madness because we saw it. In Bringing Out the Dead we know Nic Cage is going crazy because he tells us.

I first heard of Bringing Out the Dead a year or so ago, even though it came out in 1999. I wondered how a Scorcese film could have gotten out without my notice. It turns out it was no harm done. Marty brought out a dead one this time.