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"Bringing Out the Dead," "The Best Man," "Bats," "Body Shots" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "Bringing Out the Dead"
!B! "The Best Man"
!B! "Bats"
!B! "Body Shots"






"Bringing Out the Dead" - Martin Scorsese, working with a Paul Schrader script, turns out another puzzling and sometimes mesmerizing movie, one which offers a scary serving of the singularly unique talents of Nicolas Cage.

Set in 1993, the melodrama shows us the hellish reality of the graveyard shift for Manhattan's EMTs, who spend their waking hours hauling out the dead, the abused, the sick, the insane, the hopeless and the indigent in a never-ending panoply of human emotions and psycho-sickness.

In a role as tailor-made for his talents as Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" was to De Niro's, Cage is Scorsese's burned-out savior. Saddled with a rotating list of ambulance co-jockeys, Cage attempts to hold onto his sanity.

The ongoing chaos is numbing even to us in the audience, as we watch addicts and mental cases, hospital guards and administrators fight over things most of us take for granted. Underscoring Cage's performance and Scorsese's direction is the photography of Robert Richardson. The look of "Bringing Out the Dead" works consistently, even when the story gets lost in its own frenetic sense of purpose.

Disturbing and dark, "Bringing Out the Dead" offers a glimpse into a world of whose existence most would rather not know.



"The Best Man" - Malcolm D. Lee's engaging look at that transitional period in life just-after college provokes both laughter and serious introspection. All about two in a group of friends who plan to get married — much to the shock, envy or amusement of the other members of their college clique — Lee's movie is a welcome, intelligent perspective on African-American life and relationships.

The plot is woven around wannabe writer Harper's (Taye Diggs, who just keeps getting better and better onscreen) new novel: Tension mounts among the friends when longtime gal-pal Jordan (Nia Long) gets an advance copy of the novel and shares it with the old gang. Not surprisingly, Harper's characters match the personalities of his former comrades-in college. But the novel also reveals one secret that could put the nuptials on hold, permanently.



"Bats" - Watching the grainy footage of the "Bats" trailer immediately made me think that "The Blair Witch Project" creative co-opting has begun. However, I did like the way the movie title hung upside down — you know, as if it were a bat.

Now having sat through this Lou Diamond Phillips career quandary, that topsy-turvy title remains the only hint of originality in this astonishingly amateurish movie. All about killer bats cutting a swath of bloody devastation and horror across a small Texas town, "Bats" doesn't muster enough "badness" to be truly laughable.



"Body Shots" - OK, here we "Go" again: Another group of tortured twentysomething singles in Los Angeles, starved for sex but terrified of commitment go looking for love in all the right soft-core places. In the course of 24 hours the four men and women exploited by screenwriter David McKenna and trapped on film by director Michael Cristopher indulge in a variety of substance abuse and carnal couplings. While purporting to condemn the sad lifestyle it highlights, this joyless, hypocritical flick merely panders to those who wish they had such sordid options.

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