For the last year or so, Scout Tafoya has been posting a fantastic series of video essays called "The Unloved" at RogerEbert.com. The series takes as its subject films which were underappreciated at the time of their release and which deserve, in Tafoya’s view, another look; other films in the series have been Alien 3, The Village, and John Carter. With each piece, Tafoya shows a great deal of passion for the work that goes into making these films, as well as for the passion of the directors themselves. Tafoya’s most recent installment was on Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, a film describing the crazed and vaguely hallucinatory careenings of a New York ambulance driver played by Nicolas Cage, thrust up against life and death at their most intense. Tafoya gets at the heart of a couple of irreplaceable elements in this film. One is the presence of New York, shown as only Scorsese could film it: dark, dangerous, wild, uncensored, gleeful, mournful, desperate, cacophonous, deathly silent. The other is Cage’s terrific performance, possibly one of his best in Tafoya’s estimation. The video essay does a beautiful job of making a point at its outset and following it through, managing to interrogate that point at various junctures along the way without going off course–and also managing to speculate meaningfully on why the film was not as critically revered as some of Scorsese’s other films have been. When presented in this light, its neglect becomes hard to understand.
Watch: A Video Essay Ode to Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD