We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
I came to realize that my work was less about saving lives than about bearing witness. I was a grief mop.
The speaker is Frank, a paramedic whose journeys into the abyss of human misery provide the canvas for Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead." There may be happiness somewhere in the city, but the barking voice on Frank's radio doesn't dispatch him there. His job is to arrive at a scene of violence, or collapse, and try to bring not only help but encouragement.
"Do you have any music?" he asks the family of a man who seems dead of a heart attack. "I think it helps if you play something he liked." As the old man's Sinatra album plays in the background, he applies the defibrillator to his chest and shouts, "Clear!" The corpse jumps into life like a movie monster. The psychology is sound: Sinatra may not bring the dead to life, but he will give the family something to do, and the song will remind them of their dad's happier times.
Frank is played by Nicolas Cage, seen in the movie's closeup with his eyes narrowed in pain. He cruises the streets of Hell's Kitchen with a series of three co-pilots, in a three-day stretch during which he drifts in and out of sanity; he has hallucinations of an 18-year-old homeless girl named Rose, whose life he failed to save, whose death he wants to redeem. Like Travis Bickle, the hero of Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" (1976), Frank travels the night streets like a boatman on the River Styx, while steam rises from manholes as if from the fires below. Travis wanted to save those who did not want saving. Frank finds those who desperately want help, but usually he is powerless.