Tag Archives: Tom Sizemore

Bringing Out the Dead (1999) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Frank Pierce
Patricia Arquette as Mary Burke
John Goodman as Larry
Ving Rhames as Marcus
Tom Sizemore as Tom Wolls
Marc Anthony as Noel
Cliff Curtis as Cy Coates
Director: Martin Scorsese

Frank (Nicolas Cage), a mentally strained and overworked paramedic from Manhattan, tries to maintain his sanity as he tends to various emergencies and hallucinates about all the people whose lives he could not save.

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I watched Bringing Out the Dead some years ago for the first time. I remembered it involving paramedics, Nicolas Cage and it was directed by Martin Scorsese, and I recall liking it. Of course, with The Irishman coming out, it was only appropriate that I check it out again, I wanted to be sure of what I thought about it. Watching it again, I not only consider this to be one of his most underrated movies, it could be among his best films as well.

Paul Schrader wrote Bringing Out the Dead, with this being the last collaboration between him and Scorsese. With that fact, there are comparisons with this movie to Taxi Driver, and indeed this movie is a bit of a companion piece, following a troubled protagonist who narrates the story. It really conveys the strain that someone has in the line of work as an EMT. It also doesn’t have much of structure and mostly focuses on the main character as a character study, I can get that a bunch of people would find it to stretch on for too long with not much happening. However I was both riveted and entertained throughout. One of the biggest surprises on this repeat viewing was the dark comedy, I don’t remember this movie being as funny as it was, and it’s definitely intentional and works with the very off kilter and strange tone throughout. Nonetheless it is effectively off putting and exhausting at times, just as the main character feels over the course of the plot. Whenever something really horrific and graphic happens, you really feel it. Despite it possibly being one of Scorsese’s darkest movies, it’s also strangely one of his most empathetic.

Nicolas Cage gives one of his best and underrated performances as lead character Frank Pierce. This movie surrounds this character, and he absolutely delivers and convinces in his role. So much of it is in the eyes, every time you look at him, he just looks tired, burnt out and exhausted, on the edge of sanity. Frank is haunted by the people that he’s failed to save, and partway into the movie he realises that his job is less about saving lives, and more about bearing witness to their deaths. He occasionally slips into some crazy moments that Cage is known for, but it actually really worked for the character. Having seen him here, I can’t see anyone else in this role. He’s definitely the star of the show but the supporting performances shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering the number of memorable characters that Pierce encounters. Frank’s partners are played by John Goodman, Ving Rhames and Tom Sizemore, and they share great chemistry with Cage. Rhames is particularly a scene stealer and is hilarious. Other performers like Patricia Arquette and Cliff Curtis also do solid work in their roles. Scorsese himself also provides his voice for the dispatcher and he really fitted the role.

Martin Scorsese directs this and it’s no surprise that he does some great work here. Like with Taxi Driver it’s set in a very dark and grimy city, however here it feels even more unsettling and haunting. He does a good job at getting you in the head of Cage’s character. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, there’s a desaturated dull look to it that works oddly perfectly for the movie, the use of colour was quite effective. The soundtrack was great, with a solid lineup of songs that accompany the film perfectly.

Bringing Out the Dead is haunting, disturbing, darkly comedic, and all around fantastic, one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated movies. Scorsese directs this with just the right amount of style, the character’s journey was a journey I liked being on, and the acting is great from everyone, especially from Nicolas Cage who does some outstanding work here. Definitely not one to miss.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

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Natural Born Killers

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Woody Harrelson as Mickey Knox
Juliette Lewis as Mallory Knox
Tom Sizemore as Jack Scagnetti
Robert Downey Jr. as Wayne Gale
Tommy Lee Jones as Dwight McClusky
Director: Oliver Stone

Delivery boy Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) falls in love with customer Mallory Wilson (Juliette Lewis). He helps her kill her parents and began their journey down Route 666. Every few miles, they attack everyone within their sight, sparing one person to tell the tale. They are made famous by reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.), while being pursued by the equally sadistic Jack Scagnetti.

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Oliver Stone is known for controversy in his films and Natural Born Killers is no exception. This film is quite polarizing; I don’t think everyone who watches this movie will like it. For me, it is a great showcase of acting, writing from Oliver Stone and satire. The style may be distracting but Natural Born Killers does have some elements that are great that are worth noting.

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This film is a satire of the media, public opinion, and the modern attitude toward violence (you really need to know that before watching it) and I think Oliver Stone did a pretty good job at delivering in that aspect. One of the elements of the satire is the fact that these serial killers are killing a lot of people and are being made famous by the media, so famous in fact, that they seem to be celebrities among some people. These two main characters are Bonnie and Clyde of the 90s if they were serial killers. This film also has an unconventional plot, along with it being about two serial killers; the plot mostly just follows them, whether that is the past or present. The first act of this movie was pretty good; it established these two characters and their relationship well. In the second act though my interest started decreasing, that point was when I started to find the style quite distracting as well, the film also slowed down quite a bit. The third act however picks up greatly, I won’t spoil what happens but it’s quite exciting and is even better than the first act. Another thing to mention is the fact that a lot of the characters aren’t that likable. Along with Mickey and Mallory (obviously) a lot of other characters are often quite despicable. Sometimes even some of the people that Mickey and Mallory aren’t that likable, with an exception to a few people. This isn’t a flaw with the movie; it’s just worth mentioning it.

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The acting is superb from everyone. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are really believable as these two serial killers who are in love and they really shine in their scenes. Robert Downey Jr. isn’t in the movie a lot but when he’s on screen is absolutely fantastic in his role. Tommy Lee Jones is also seen for a small part near the end of the movie and like Downey Jr., he really makes use of every second of screen time that he has.

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The style is very interesting to say the least. Sometimes the camera filters are a different colour, sometimes it is shot on an angle, and sometimes it cuts to some surreal images; it feels like you are on an acid trip. For the first half of the movie I accepted it and I was okay with it as it seemed to fit with the movie. But at the half way point, this style started to be quite distracting to me. I know that a lot of people loved the style: I thought it was good but for me, it got a little tiring after a while, you really need to prepare yourself for this type of movie.

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Natural Born Killers isn’t a movie that everyone will enjoy. Its style may be distracting, the fact that it’s following characters that aren’t likable (even some of the side characters aren’t that good either) or it might be the violence might repel some people. If you feel like you may like this movie, check it out but be ready for what you are going to see. You’ll either love it or hate it.