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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When a diamond heist goes badly wrong, the gang meet back at a
warehouse and try to figure out what happened. Is there a traitor in
their midst ?
Reservoir Dogs is one of those truly great debut movies, like Citizen Kane or A Bout De Soufflé or The Evil Dead. Tarantino was just twenty-eight when he made it and his talent shines out, not just in his razor-sharp script and stylish touches, but also in his production smarts. He uses suspense and shocks expertly to keep us riveted despite the fact that the whole movie pretty much plays in one room. He cleverly alludes to events that we don't see, thereby keeping costs and down and retaining the creative control so crucial to his vision. What I love most about the movie though is its originality. It may pay homage to earlier heist flicks (notably The Killing and The Taking Of Pelham 123) but it's like no other crime film before or since. Characters argue about whether or not Pam Grier was on a TV show. The time line shoots all over the shop but we never feel wrong-footed. A droll DJ (the noted comic Steven Wright) plays catchy music by bands you've never heard of with names like George Baker Selection, Stealers Wheel and Blue Swede. There's more blood than a Herschell Gordon Lewis film. Everyone wears suits, except for the late great Chris Penn (his best performance in an amazing career), who wears a blue tracksuit that must be seen to be believed. The finale is about the most ambiguous in all cinema. It's great. Everybody is terrific in it, as is the delineation of the characters. Mr White is the straight-ahead tough guy, Mr Pink is the only one with any brains, Mr Blonde is the psycho and Mr Orange is the fink. Tierney - the star of 1945's Dillinger - has a wonderful turn as Joe the kingpin. Tarantino winds them up and then lets them go, slicing into each other with fizzing little soliloquies that are still buzzing in our heads when we're onto the next one. It's also highly funny in spite of the grim nature of the story; in a weird way it reminds of the Black Knight sequence in Monty Python And The Holy Grail - characters arguing with each other about details whilst they bleed to death. It's hard to believe this movie is now twenty years old, since it still seems as fresh and gripping as the day it was made. It's a modern crime classic, a bravura piece of ensemble macho man acting, and a stunningly brilliant first film from a director in full command of cinematic form.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bloodily violent, irreverently shocking, politically incorrect,
inventively funny and so on and so forth
I'm trying to find the right
expression to describe "Reservoir Dogs" and I finally got it, it stands
in three letters: N-E-W. There was something waiting in the abyssal
wombs of cinema, so repressed it was waiting for deliverance with a
fierce impatience, a deliverance with a quite original and
cool-sounding name: Quentin Tarantino, the new incarnation of modern
violence with STYLE. "Reservoir Dogs" is more than a debut; it's a
sensational entrance that consecrated Tarantino among the most
influential directors of his generation, and THE reference in
Tarantino invented a new style that would never desert his films, and would make each of his creation, the epitome of coolness. It's so fresh to watch "Reservoir Dogs" now and to realize how new it was at that time. I remember the first time I watched the film, I was 17, and the movie literally blew me away in every single aspect, and I guess the fact that I wasn't familiar with the Internet or IMDb was a good thing since it didn't intercede with my approach of the film. I didn't want to know what's so cool about Tarantino, I just discovered him with his film, shortly after watching "Pulp Fiction", and for some reason, I loved "Reservoir Dogs" a little more. Tarantino quickly became my favorite director as a teenager, and in my early 20's because of this level of creativity in the writing, the directing, and the editing.
The writing is Tarantino's trademark and his greatest quality, the movie starts with a whole discussion about the meaning of "Like a Virgin" told by a fast-speaking Tarantino, himself as Mr. Brown, then a whole debate starts about tipping and non tipping. That's the question raised by the first minutes of "Reservoir Dogs" and the least we could say is that the talk is so trivial it sounds real and authentic in its rawness and makes the characters more human, if not sympathetic. More generally, the whole characterization is driven by dialogs so delicately vulgar you never miss the action, or wait for something 'to happen'. Script 'happens' in Tarantino's films, like meals you've already eaten but with a new special taste, something juicy, creamy, and spicy. It's almost an indigestion of creativity I don't need to tell you the lines, if I start them, you know the rest : "You shoot me in a dream ", "Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie?" etc. etc. And these dogs not only bark, but they do bite a lot.
Indeed, if the movie was all dialogs, it wouldn't have had the same impact. It's like Tarantino already knew his lesson, and wanted to make something big, from the beginning. From the iconic slo-mo walking scene down the alley with the opening credits, you get the idea that this "Little Green Bag" song will be the 'hallelujah' glorifying the birth of a new style of film-making, and instinctively, you know something special will happen after these credits, and you're not disappointed by what follows. Blood, blood all over the car seat, and probably one of the most convincing painful screams ever. You really can feel for Tim Roth in that scene, it's like the real actor got one real bullet, and the rest is the touching expression of a growing friendship between Roth as Mr. Orange, and Mr. White, his mentor played by Harvey Keitel. He combs his hear, whispers something that provoke Orange's cute but heartbreaking smile: the chemistry is so believable, you understand that the movie is not just about cool dialogs. Then, comes Mr Pink as Steve Buscemi, asking who the rat is! Because this is the first serious element we have. It's the story of a botched jewel robbery, with a traitor among these gangsters. This question will be the starting point of the narrative with three specific back stories told in flashback.
The three characters depicted in flashback are Mr. White, Mr. Orange, and Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde. And in the memorable-action department, the winner is undoubtedly Mr. Blonde: the one who provided the most iconic and recognizable moment of the film. The iconic ear-cutting scene with the "Stuck In the Middle With You" music, like a reminiscence of "A Clockwork Orange" rape scene with 'Singin' in the Rain' as a musical background, the scene is disturbing, violent, bloody, but also iconic. The violence is not meant to be cool, but just to show how psychotic Mr. Blonde, one of the most twisted gangster villains, is. And his torture is also crucial because it will unmask Mr. Orange as the snitch, and will make his relationship with White, even more complex. In one minute, the movie raises a new dimension, deeper and more tragic.
Forget the cool and raunchy dialogs, the creative editing, where flashbacks interfere with parallel stories, as when we witness a great scene where Orange tells a story within another story. Too many insertions as to create a confusing feeling until the last iconic scene : after the slo-mo opening, the ear-cutting, the Mexican stand-off, as the last memorable scene that would lurch this movie into Pop Culture. Forget the wonderful ensemble cast with so many colorful characters (literally) and such believable actions and reactions like childishly arguing about nicknames instead of preparing a serious job. All these elements are great, but it would have been nothing without the tragedy
The beauty of the film relies on this profound relationship between Mr. Orange and Mr White, made of respect and honor, and the last minute of the film was something that reminded of Peckinpah's films, a moment of honesty and loyalty, incarnated by Orange's last confession, and White's heartbreaking gesture as to redeem the act of a man he still loved as friend Keitel's last look before the movie ends will haunt me forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Reservoir Dogs" ends with Harry Nilsson's "Coconut" playing over the
credits, a quirky song in which a woman "puts the lime in the coconut
and drinks 'em both up" before getting a bellyache and calling a doctor
who tells her to "put the lime in the coconut and drink 'em both up"
which causes her to get a bellyache and call a doctor who tells her to
"put the lime in the coconut and drink 'em both up".
In other words, the "cause" is the "cure" is the "cause" is the "cure" is the "cause". But is the woman stupid for listening to the doctor or is the doctor wise in accelerating the problem until her sickness goes away (possibly because the idiot's bellyache eventually leads to death?).
Regardless, Quinten Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" finds a gang of foul mouthed low-lives trapped in a similar, inane loop. After a botched jewelry heist, a group of criminals gather in an abandoned warehouse where they try to ascertain who amongst them is an undercover cop. In other words, there's a poisonous lime in a group of coconut nut cases, and they're all busy trying to smoke him out.
As arguments ensue, one of the gang members, whilst waiting on a doctor, begins to die slowly due to a bullet (ie belly ache) in the gut. Meanwhile, tensions escalate to such an extent that the men shoot one another to death. The wounded man with the bullet hole belly ache is then revealed to be the poisonous rat. Had the others let him die, they'd have been fine.
So it's the "lime in the coconut" scenario; uncovering the cause of the stomach ache equals finding the rat, finding the rat leads to stomach aches, stomach aches are cured by finding the rat, finding the rat leads to stomach aches...etc etc, until the patients all die. Cue the coconut song.
Tarantino typically makes modern versions of 1970s exploitation films. But while "Reservoir Dogs" has the seediness, cool posing, macho vulgarity and blood quota of 1970s exploitation cinema, its actual framework owes more to 1950s noir. In this regard it unfolds like a stage-play, is dialogue driven, possesses a bare aesthetic, sparse, stripped down sets, and ends with a fatalistic noir climax in which everyone dies.
And while the film pulls from 70s blaxploitation, Hong Kong cool, Lam's "City on Fire", Kubrick's "The Killing", the original "Oceans 11" (all those slow motion men in suit shots), and Peckinpah's blood operas, Tarantino's overall tone is much more playful. He's more akin to David Mamet, using freestyle dialogue to toy with conventions. What matters is not the content of the film, or even the characters, but the farcical playfulness of it all; the way it moves, skirts around expectations and then joyously self destructs. Today, with most artists now with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, such that they can, like Tarantino, spin entire tales out of bits and pieces in a matter of days, the challenge is to slow down and let go of the mix-tape. This kind of "I can do this, but should I?" questioning is itself the core dilemma of Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds".
"Reservoir Dog's" bloodiness was deemed sensational back in the 90s, but that's largely because Hollywood's previous 15 years were dominated by a kind of sanitized, blockbuster violence ("Indiana Jones", "Star Wars" etc). Many complain that the film relies too heavily on designer brutality, cool, gratuitous violence, and that its characters are simply pop culture chewing posers, but while that is true, the film is also unique in Tarantino's filmography ("Basterds" excluded) in that it actually plays like a warped morality tale. Shakespeare with guns, the film rejects any sanctimonious message, "crime doesn't pay" or otherwise, and instead lets us eavesdrop on a bunch of psychopaths who, quite hypocritically, view themselves as professionals with ordinary jobs. Throughout the film our criminals thus view with scorn a psycho played by Michael Madsen. They're not like him, you see. They have ethics, codes, rules and professional courtesy. But when push comes to shove they nevertheless all degenerate into reservoir dogs, cruel, psychopathic and little more than petty hoodlums.
Like most of Tarantino's films, "Reservoir Dogs" is a film about film. Here the characters are all artifacts chewing on pop culture artifacts, except Tim Roth, who plays an undercover cop. While Keitel does a phony tough guy routine and Michael Madesen does a cheap Clint Eastwood, Tim Roth's the chameleon actor who infiltrates their school play and brings their curtain down. He even starts by killing their director.
7.9/10 Worth two viewings. See Mamet's films, some of which do this stuff better.
"I feel like a director who has not yet directed, therefore I don't
exist." Said an idealist, enthusiastic Quentin Tarantino back when he
was working at Video Archives in the early 1990s, eager to start
climbing the directorial ladder in Hollywood. At this time he was just
a screenplay-writer, penning early works such as Natural Born Killers
(a baby of his he felt he stabbed in the heart when he gave up to
Oliver Stone to rewrite), True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawnall
initially fruitless fares that no one dared to green-light. Production
companies were choosy, cliquish and wouldn't give an untested director
like Tarantino a break. Not even for Reservoir Dogs.
Growing increasingly frustrated at navigating the world of hard-to-please production corporations to OK his project and pass him the director's chair, Taratino approached producer Lawrence Benderarguably the best choice of his career (he's been working closely with him ever since). Bender loved the script of Reservoir Dogsand who wouldn't? It pours crime, gangsters and humour into an exquisite blender and sprinkles it with heavy doses of edgy style. Together the two of them set out to do this film, and soon caught the eye of Richard Gladstein at Live Entertainment in Van Nuys, who would later agree to finance the little project.
It really was a "little" project, too, with a budget of a mere $1,200,000which meant that the '65 Yellow Cadillac that you see in the film is Michael Madsen's own. Yet breathless and excited at becoming a debut-director and finally getting to tend to his baby himself which this position now afforded him, Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender began the process and the mega cult hit that is "Reservoir Dogs" (1992). Harvey Keitel was first approached to star as Mr. White and with his name on-board, he himself convinced several star-actors to grace the cast list along with him. He told them they wouldn't get much money for it, but that the script alone was worth jumping on-board for. They agreed.
That's some basic back-story for you on how this film came to be, and I feel it is important to keep in mind the fervent enthusiasm and gratitude with which Quentin Tarantino embarked on his debut-director journey. It translates in the eager, rapid-fire dialogue between the characters, the clever pacing of the story and the fresh edge of the narrative. This is a man with a deeply-rooted love for films and who wanted nothing more than to make his own--and now that privilege had been granted, and not a minute too soon. Upon the release of "Dogs", Tarantino was rightly vaulted into the great directors' fame and, I imagine, became even more enthusiastic about film-making.
The end product is a very good film that sees five anonymous hit men team up for a big heist an armed robbery on a Diamond warehouse that will be central to the wide variety of eccentrically quirky characters who all lend their skills to the job. The heat of the police clings onto them during this task because there's talk of a rat in their group... but who is it? The film starts at the end of the robbery, zooming in on a chaotic bloody state and then backtracks in flashbacksnon-chronologically and a bit babbling, but it still worksin an attempt to answer this question. Does it? Yes, but perhaps not in the way you think.
Although this fare is devoid of any profound message, morals or statement and there's no discernible kind of symbolism, it is extremely enjoyable on a basic level. In fact, maybe its straightforward approach to a storybut with criminal diversions, twists and plot-devicesis what makes it so great. This is a clever heist, just take it or leave it. The interactions and actions between the characters are at focus, placing environment in the backseat; this means that Reservoir Dogs can proudly boast of having one of the greatest dialogue-driven scenes in film, and it takes place at the beginning at the diner when Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) explains to the other guys why he does not tip waitresses--the others are compassionate and argue that they are minimum-wage workers no rely on tip, but Mr. Pink is stern: "Do you know what this is? Its the world's smallest violin playing just for the waitresses. "
The film is full of gems like these, full of great colourful gangster performances (in particular Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde--the most badass character in history) and full of clear-eyed and gory style. As far as heist films go, this is a grand accomplishment. If anything, it is a bit short (99 minutes). These characters are so interesting that we never feel as though we get to know them enough--it's a little rushed and a little dizzying at times. This is no surprise as Reservoir Dogs was originally written as a short film, barely stretching 20 minutes and with characters that weren't meant to be particularly developed or dimensional. They are more so in the final, long version, but it's still a little too rushed. Although I suppose is intentional on Tarantino's part to signify the hectic pace of the heist and the cops chasing them.
Tarantino sported a modest wallet and a modest ego that had not yet swelled to a "Cro-Magnon forehead"--as ex-friend and Natural Born Killers producer Don Murphy would describe it--when he wrote and directed this film. Indeed, this aspiring filmmaker loved films so much that he would make a lot of enemies and lose a lot of friends during the course of climbing the directorial ladder in Hollywood. No friends were harmed in the making of this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe its because I watched Pulp Fiction a good six months before I saw
this, but Reservoir Dogs seems lacking in its potential.
The plot is extremely intriguing, what you would expect from Tarantino. Multi-layered, with interesting characters and some classic lines (I can't help it, but it all appears...inferior to PF). Superb acting from Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel, though Tim Roth clinches it. It's also nice to see the many references to Fiction (or vice-versa? Which one came out first again?) and of course Tarantino himself.
Still, was it me or did RD seem far too short? Most of the film was taken up by Buscemi's paranoia and the other character's monologues, which is where I felt it stumbled. The conversations in Fiction flow well although they are surreal, but in RD it was clunky and awkward. Plus the set got boring after a while, it was an abandoned warehouse after all.
There are still some things I don't get about RD. What was the message? There didn't seem to be any (apart from, don't be an undercover cop) whilst Pulp Fiction was clearly about redemption. The significance of *spoiler* Mr Pink the only one who survives? What, cowardice pays off? And although the whole torture scene didn't fit, I'll accept it because really it's nothing compared to the randomness of "the gimp" incident in PF. What gets me is that people are STILL yakking on about how gruesome it was (Mr Blondes torture scene, that is). It's just a prosthetic ear and some blood.
Ah well. Could have been more, but good nonetheless. Seven out of ten.
Everybody knows that criminals are big losers but still there is a strong tradition in American cinema especially in Hollywood of making films which glorify criminals.Everybody knows that Godfather,a film about a mafia family is hailed as a classic film.People know well as to what kind of things mafia do and how harmful they are to human society in general.Reservoir Dogs is one such dumb film which through its antics champions the cause of crooks without morals.Tarantino is believed to be a humorist however his humor is undoubtedly bland and mainly consists of filthy abuses.A word about the violence in the film: by showing macabre scenes of senseless violence Tarantino has shown that in the name of creative freedom and in order to gain easy publicity all rules can be broken and more the violence the more controversial the film is going to be.Good that this film has not been emulated by other film makers. It is a good development that till now no studio has come forward with the idea of making a sequel of this film.God save America who has Quentino.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
People were forcing me to get this movie, so I eventually got it. I
watched it waiting for the action and waiting for them to show us the
robbery. How can this be called a gangster movie if they don't even
show you a robbery? It said everywhere that this movie is a classic.
What's classic about it? Robbers who cuss and act childish all the time
waffling on about a robbery? All they do is talk and swear for 94
minutes, that's all they do. And it was very predictable who the cop
was. There was no surprise. The reason I knew it was Mr. Orange was
because Mr. White was treating him like a little 5 year old and he
still treated the others like they were a piece of garbage. The
direction was poor. The pacing was off. The humor with them discussing
body functions and people's religion, etc was way off. They tried too
hard to be funny when it came to he humor. There are 2 great songs in
this movie, but that's it. The only thing that's original about this
movie is the color names. The movie just seemed pointless, especially
after the ending. They all shoot each other. What was the point in
that? Them waffling on about a robbery, then nd up killing each other?
What sense is that? I guess people love Quentin Tarintino so much that
they'll accept anything he gives you. The dialog wasn't even good.
Gangsters talking about their life and trying to be humorous, BORING!
A lot of people will probably abuse me for this review, but i'm sorry, this is what the film is about and you fall for such poor movies like this. The reason I type this is to also warn others to let them know that you'll be expecting nothing more from this film than gangsters (Who they don't even act like) waffling on about a failed robbery that they don't even show you. 1/10
UNC professor Kent Brintnall stated, "Tarantino's film is, on one
reading, a reductio ad absurdum on the cult of masculinity"; film-maker
and critic Robert Hilferty noted,"violent language and violent acts
define the power politics of male sexuality, on which Reservoir Dogs is
a virtual tragicomic essay".
Every frame in Reservoir Dogs exists to expose the damaging consequences of our society's warped view of masculinity and how it is intertwined with violence. The film's emotional core, and what elevates it to greatness, is the profound bond that exists between Mr. White and Mr. Orange. Their non-traditional dynamic (in which they both exhibit "feminine" traits; White's compassion/tenderness, Orange's vulnerability) is presented as something superior that exists outside of the masculine. The way 12 Angry Men is a film featuring white men while exposing the trappings of white male privilege, Reservoir Dogs is a film featuring hyper-masculinity that celebrates gender non- conformativity. It is Tarantino's most moral and complex work.
"Pulp Fiction" is often acclaimed to be Tarantino's masterpiece. Sure,
it is the definitive film of the 90s and probably the more well
developed and made of his first two films, but for re-watching value
I'll always prefer "Reservoir Dogs". It has all the trademarks that
make Tarantino leagues above all the imitators he spawned - great
dialog, interesting characters, not to mention a cool as hell
The thing that causes Tarantino to be so enduring is his combination of style and story, both of which are often forgotten when a director is concentrating on the other. The non-linear narrative, the kinetic editing and effects, and the soundtrack all meld together to make one stylish and atmospheric film. It was obvious from the beginning that Tarantino knew a lot about films, as nice homages to "The Killing", "Dillinger", and most memorably "Django" are all present. Some have accused Tarantino of plagiarism, but I'd more call it tributes. I appreciate someone with such great taste in films making their own movies.
In addition to the style is the story. Sure, it may be told non-linear, but its intriguing and not entirely complex (even though the conclusion is considerably open ended). Plus, the character development is superb. In Tarantino's world, there are no good or bad guys. Every character has their positive and negative aspects. Take Mr. Blonde for example. In the film's most notorious sequence, he shown to be a sadist and tortures a kidnapped police officer. However, he also has a touching and loyal friendship with Joe and Nice Guy Eddie.
None of Tarantino's followers got it right. Just watch "The Boondock Saints" to prove this point. Skip the shoddy imitations, go straight to the source. (10/10)
Unlike most of Tarantino's films this one I would not give a negative rating to. It shares all of the things that I hate about his other films (bouncing around in time & sequence, unnecessary blood & violence, no plot and no resolution) with the rest of his films, but for some reason this one does not make me want to sort my socks instead. I would still say that you should not waste your time watching this movie unless you really just want to waste time. The only redeeming quality of this film is that you can watch this one film and and you will have just seen every Quentin Tarantino movie ever made, because they are all the same. Just be sure that you can handle the violence and the blood because that is about all you are going to get from this film.
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