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"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.
Vintage Tarantino. Totally boorish, tasteless, boring, repetitious, tedious & moronic. Everything his loving audiences deserve.
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.
*** 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 ***
"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.
A gang of thieves carry out an armed robbery on a Diamond warehouse.
The police are after them so quickly that they suspect they have a rat
in their company. This film starts right after the robbery, with
flashbacks to before the robbery, and to the planning of the crime.
After reading this plot, you know this is not your average crime film. In fact, I thought this film was about the whole diamond heist and that there will be a twist ending on who's the rat. It's absolutely nothing like that.
Although an original way to make this film, this film is mostly boring, with an exception on the prologue of the film which I found entertaining for some reason. This film is very violent and bloody with shooting here and there and yelling about this and that. That's about it with the film.
There's nothing interesting with the "boring" characters and "bad" story. The actings were relatively decent and this film is nowhere near one of the best films ever, although many people said it was, which lead me to buy the film on DVD, which I found a complete waste of money. One good thing about this film is that it's unpredictable and has funny jokes, which in real life would be just the opposite.
This film is decent but not a very good film. It has some originality and clever humor but all squished with a boring plot and uninteresting characters. This is just my opinion but I should say for those who want to see this film should rent it first before buying.
The idea that Quentin Tarantino could be seen as a great filmmaker for
"Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" is ridiculous, and "Reservoir Dogs" is
proof exhibit A. "Reservoir Dogs" is simply one of the most shamelessly
plot-driven movies I have ever seen. First of all, what is the point of the
commode story? In the movie, the crooks are supposed to keep their mouths
shut, but Tarantino has Mr. Orange go on and on, pointlessly, about the
commode story just so Tarantino can make an attempt at art filmmaking by
showing Mr. Orange talking to the actual police officers in the bathroom and
dry his hands in slow motion. Talking that much would only make it more
obvious that Mr. Orange is a policeman, anyway. Also, as one viewer pointed
out, Mr. Orange doesn't shoot Mr. Blonde before Mr. Blonde cuts off the
police officer's ear. Want to know why? Because Tarantino needed Mr. Orange
to hear the bad guys say they were going to return to the warehouse after
ditching the cars, but he also needed the ear-cutting scene. What else was
there to do except make Mr. Orange not give a damn about the police officer,
which is totally ridiculous. Also, why in God's name was Mr. Blonde going to
set fire to the police officer? Wouldn't that have drawn attention to the
warehouse hideout? Sure, it would. But Tarantino threw out that logic just
so he could make a "thrilling" scene as Mr. Blonde prepares to set fire to
the police officer. Also, what sense does it make to have the warehouse in
the middle of a neighborhood? What a bunch of smart crooks. It's no wonder
they couldn't snoop out the undercover cop.
This movie shouldn't even have made as little as it did (one million, I believe). And it figures that after about three years Tarantino's name dropped out of sight.
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.
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.
First, I love Tarantino, because he is able (as a director) to follow his own unique style and made a very good movie like Pulp Fiction. But when making Reservoir Dogs, he was (in my opinion) maybe just searching for the borders of what other directors did not dare to do. A movie as RD with (just) a strong focus on violence is not enough for me to give it a high rating. Of course the acting and directing was very good, but I was missing a real strong script. And thats why I could not enjoy this movie and was just very disappointed because my expectations were very high (also based on the high rating on IMDB). So, when you not only like violence, but also care about a good script (story) than you also want to watch the Mob-movies of Martin Scorsese like Good fellas and Casino.
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