Bringing Out The Dead– Quarantine Rewatch

“This city, it’ll kill you if you aren’t strong enough.”

“The city doesn’t discriminate– it gets everybody.”

Long time no see. Hello, hello!

You know, I’ve been meaning to pop this open for weeks– I’m currently furloughed, so natch I was thinking, hey I’ve got all this free time! Foolishly optimistic. I’ve been idly staring at a blank screen like a true dipshit, despondently closing my MacBook lid.

Being ‘locked down’ in LA since March 15th, I’ve been seeking comfort in the form of media I’ve seen before– much like most of you, I’m sure. I’m going to try my damnedest to write a little about the movies I know and love as a sort of Quarantine Rewatch series, so stay tuned. Maybe there’s a theme tying my choices together, maybe not. Who the hell knows.

image courtesy of Imgur

I’m having an uncharacteristic level of trouble sleeping, and this movie reminds me of nights punctuated by too much booze, diners, cigarettes, and the eventual stinging sunrise. Pills and cabs and trains to nowhere, bodega coffee and bloodies in a bag. Cage’s character blearily longs for human connection until daybreak like so many of us, haunted by death at every corner. And to me, nobody nails the nuances of New York City like Martin Scorsese.

Reading about Covid-19 impacting the tristate area so severely had me longing for the city. I grew up in northern NJ, constantly sneaking off to NYC as often as I could. The protracted moonlight and exasperated madness of Bringing Out The Dead transport me to inordinately drunk nights in Manhattan, the bizarre manic energy that only those streets possess.

Scorsese obvi has a pristine roster, but this movie is hardly mentioned. Is it because of low rewatch value? Is it too dark? I’m not sure, but it’s always been one of my favourites; brass tacks, it’s a story about trauma and healing. Compassion for the suffering, empathy. About how our lives pass us by so quickly and we barely notice until we get some downtime to reflect. How death leaves us in an awkward spot, never quite with the symmetry we’d hope, like Arquette’s fractured relationship with her father.

image courtesy of MoMA

For me, it’s especially about the feeling it evokes, the infinity of the black night and finding meaning. I relate to it pretty hard right now. Cage, unable to save everyone he encounters as an EMT, sleeplessly unravels and finds comfort in the arms of Arquette. There’s no hard solve for trauma, but you can certainly take the edge off.

I suppose it boils down to the fact that everyone’s looking for something soothing, anything to alleviate their anxiety. I highly recommend seeking this movie out– it’s dark, it’s funny, it’s satisfying, and it’s nuanced. It’s a mood, and the low level hum of Manhattan noise saturates every moment.

Thanks for reading,

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