Watching: It’s an Emergency!

Saving people while battling demons.

Dear Watchers,

We know your watching time is limited. And the amount of things available to watch … is not. Looking for a movie? Nearly any movie ever made? It’s probably streaming somewhere. That’s a lot of movies.

Below, we’re suggesting two of them, the latest of our weekly double-feature recommendations. We think the movies will pair well — with each other and with you.

Your weekly double feature: Emergency services

Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage in “Bringing Out The Dead.”Phil Caruso/Paramount Pictures

‘Midnight Family’ and ‘Bringing Out the Dead’

In one of many gripping sequences in the documentary “Midnight Family,” the Ochoas, owners of a private ambulance business in Mexico City, get in a reckless street race with a competitor to respond to a call — and collect the fee for their services. They win the race, but the prize is another patient without the insurance or the cash to compensate them.


Now streaming on HBO Max, “Midnight Family” captures the tense, bloody, harrowing night shifts inside the Ochoas’ ambulance, which is part of a loose network of for-profit emergency medical services that make up for the lack of government-operated vehicles in this city of nine million people. But in those rare moments when the Ochoas are not working (or sleeping) in the car, it’s clear from their cramped, sparsely appointed apartment that the family is living hand-to-mouth, scraping by on the thinnest of margins.

The nocturnal bleariness and visceral punch of Luke Lorentzen’s documentary calls to mind Martin Scorsese’s hugely underrated “Bringing Out the Dead,” which also plugs into the amplified stresses of a paramedic. A companion piece of sorts to Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” the film tracks the encroaching madness of another New York City loner, played by Nicolas Cage, as he responds to surreal emergencies while grappling with ghosts from his past. Working from Joe Connelly’s novel, Scorsese operates in jagged, caffeinated episodes, covering 48 hours in the life of a man who can’t get fired and can’t bring himself to quit. Helping people has become his purgatory. — Scott Tobias

Stream “Midnight Family” on HBO Max. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play and Vudu.

Stream “Bringing Out the Dead” on Amazon. Rent it on Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.


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