For me up till recently it had been the award winning movie, Bringing Out The Dead. I have had many oppertunities to see this over the last almost 15 years since this movie came out in the theater in 1999. For various reasons, I haven’t be able to get to see it until recently.
I just recently saw this movie, and I gotta say… DAMN that was a great movie! That movie is gripping, it kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. All and I mean ALL, of the character’s in this movie were really well developed (Even those that were hardly in the movie at all!) The visuals of a New York City in the early 90’s from the perspective of a burnt out Paramedic were frankly spectacular. This movie was a true cinematic experience that I won’t ever forget!
Written by: Paul Schrader (Affliction) and Directed by: Martin Scorsese (The Grifters). Starring: Nicholas Cage (National Treasure), Patricia Arquette (True Romance), John Goodman (The West Wing)
Brining Out The Dead is a fascinating Psychological Drama about burnt out delusional Paramedic Frank Pierce (Cage) who drinks to much, eats and sleeps to little, keeps seeing the ghost of a woman (Played by Cynthia Roman) that he couldn’t save while he was on a call, but who told him her name just before she died.
With that said, he still goes out every night with his different slightly crazy in their own right partners, and tries to save lives, even though he hasn’t done so for awhile. The problem with this activity though is that the more lives he can’t save, the more that it ultimately ends up slowly driving him insane!
This is until one night when Frank and his regular partner Larry show up at the elder Burke house. While they are there, Frank and Larry startworking on saving the life of Mr. Burke (Played by Cullen O Johnson.) When it is looking hopeless and Larry goes down to the ambulance to call in the death. Frank almost muraculously saves the life of this man!
This takes Frank on a journey that will ultimately lead him to salvation from the torture that he was feeling at the loss of Rose and to the ultimate realization that not every can be saved all the time. Along for this journey is Mary Burke (Patricia) Arquette) who is the daughter of the first man that Frank has saved in a long time!
One of the things that I found to be kind of funny having also recently watched the entire series of The Wire on DVD, was the fact that Sonja Sohn who plays the girl friend of drug dealer Cy Coates in this movie. Played Detective Shakima Greggs a detective who is assigned to a special task force to take down one of the largest drug kingpins in New York in The Wire. An interesting duality of roles, eh?
The other point that I wanted to mention, is the almost suprising level of 90’s talent that Martin Scorsese was able to pull together for this film. I mean besides the cast memebers that I mentioned above there is Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead: Remake), Mark Anthony (Carlito’s Way), Cliff Curtis (Virus) and lastly, and another fellow The Wire alumni to have a brief cameo in the movie is Michael K. Williams (The Road.)
There are many other great people in this film but these are the ones that influenced me the most.
The last thing that I can say about this movie is that being that this movie was made in 1999, I strongly suspect that Director Martin Scorsese used this film to in some way to show case some of the classic films that have come in the 90’s. The reason that I say this is because this movies looks to have had many inspirations in how Mr. Scorsese put this movie together. Some of these being, Tony Scott’s True Romanance (1993). Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) which also has Ving Rhames in it.
Anyway if you haven’t seen it yet and want to, don’t wait nearly 15 years to see it. You won’t regret it!