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Reservoir Dogs is the debut film of director Quentin Tarrantino. While
its not a masterpiece like his later effort Pulp Fiction. For a first
time effort coming from a video store clerk who didn't go to film
school, this is a remarkable achievement in the world of independent
The storyline is simple. Crime lord, Joe Cabot and his son "Nice Guy" Eddie have arranged a diamond heist. To cover their tracks, they hire several associates who don't know each other personally and thus can't give information out in case they get arrested. These associates are Mr White (played by Harvy Keitel), Mr Pink (played by Steve Buscemi), Mr Orange (Tim Roth), Mr Blonde (Michael Madson), Mr Brown (in a cameo by Quentin Tarrantino) and Mr Blue (played by real life former criminal Eddie Bunker). The heist immediately fails ending with a massacre that leaves Brown and Blue dead, Orange has been shot, leaving it to others to figure out who snitched them. What makes the plot interesting is not in the story itself but how it's told. When discussing mainstream cinema, Andy Warhol said that "All the interesting bits of a film are left in the cutting room floor". Reservoir Dogs is the anti thesis of Hollywood filmmaking. Yes, the heist happens but we don't see it. What we get however, is the events that happen before and after, feeding enough details to figure out what happened.
This is Tarrantino's skill as both story teller and director, he can make details or characters we don't even see seem significant. Part of this is easily attributed to the excellent script. This is where the dialogue deserves a special mention. In an ordinary film, the dialogue is typically used just to explain the plot to the audience. Tarrantino breaks this rule by letting his characters converse from Brown's graphic explanation of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" to the humorous interaction between Eddie and Blonde. By avoiding the usual traps that plague Hollywood films, Tarrantino manages to make a movie solely dedicated to its characters and their knee jerk reactions to the heist.
Raising the mark even further for the film is the carefully chosen ensemble cast. Harvey Keitel is superb as Mr White. His skills shine in the films early scenes where he shows his empathy with the dying Mr Orange. One might say that this portrayal is almost the exact opposite of the typical hardened criminal.
Michael Madson, whilst having a limited screen time delivers the films most infamous scene as Mr Blonde, a psychotic criminal who is both brutal and cool. His dry deadpan delivery sets up most of the films tension. Perhaps the most memorable performance however goes to Steve Buscemi as Mr Pink. Out of the entire cast or characters, Pink is the most interesting which is ironic given that he is the only character we know nothing about. Buscemi manic performance proves equal match for Pinks loyalty and concerns about what is "professional" in the crime world. It is the films finest and most articulated performance. Reservoir Dogs is still not perfect though and I wouldn't recommend it to all people. For starters, Tim Roth's performance as Mr Orange while strong suffers greatly from his constantly slipping vernacular. You won't be sure is he's Italian American Mafioso, a street wise kid or simply a whiny brat. Thankfully, his most of his dialogue is kept to minimum as he spends much of his screen time lying in a pool of blood. Secondly the level of violence in this movie is bloody and gratuitous, peaking at the torture scene which was reportedly disturbing enough to prompt several people to leave the theatre. Yes the film is violent, but in the stylized way of the Hong Kong films that inspired it. Thirdly, the film is full of enough profanity laden dialogue to fill a text book. I don't actually mind it though, as it makes sense given that these characters are p*ssed off at the failure of such a carefully planned heist. But if you cant stomach excessive bad language, then isn't the film for you. These arguments should not be seen as detractors to the film though. Would I recommend Reservoir Dogs? That depends. If you're a cinephile, a pop culture fanatic or just want to see a refreshing film, by all means do. If however you're a concerned parent who wants to see something with the children or someone who cant stand such graphic violence and language, then avoid it all costs. Make no mistake though, this is a fantastic film that paved the way for the way for the career of a talented director.
Reservoir Dogs,if you like movies with twists,movies with loaded guns,movies with action,movies with some great dialogs,reservoir dogs is the one for you then.It has everything of the above.The movie itself moves so fast that it is tough to catch if you miss anything.Tremendous plot and a perfect execution.Quentin Tarantino's best so far.And funny thing was that they used to call each other by colors not names.Casting is very good specially Harvey Keitel & Michael Madsen have given a good performance.Steve Buscemi as Mr pink is terrific.The ending is pretty cool.All trust & betrayal.Whom to trust & whom to betray.Till the end you just keep guessing.Reservoir Dogs is pure entertainment,99 minutes of no nonsense stuff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Quentin Tarantino's first film, Resovoir dogs is a film of trust. It's
also a film of style, dialogue, and violence. Resovoir dogs has a great
soundtrack. A great story. Though I don't think it's his best. My
favorite of his are Jackie Brown and Pulp fiction. This film has a
plot, and it's never boring. But it's not as good as Pulp fiction,
Jackie Brown, and some of his other masterpieces.
Resovoir dogs is a classic about a group of guys who go to rob a bank and it turns into a bloody ambush. There are six men who go in. Only four of them lived. So the ones that survive suspect that one of them is a cop. You find out who the cop is rather soon, but it goes back to the characters(whose code names are all colors)to show more about them.
Surely this film has it's share of violence. Sure it has it's share of laughs and dialogue and action. But the thing that I loved about it is that Harvy Keitel's character Mr. White, who has been comforting Mr. Orange(played by Tim Roth). Even when Mr. Orange is accused of being the cop, he denies every word of it.
I loved the film no doubt about it. I love all of Tarantino's films. This one is probably the most overrated. Jackie Brown being the most underrated. It doesn't matter though. Both films are fantastic, no doubting it.
Director Quentin Tarantino has an exceptional ability to create action films like this one called "Reservoir Dogs." It is sure to rank among his very best. The script and it's dramatic storyline throughout the entire movie is a visual compendium of 'Waiting for Godot' meets 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.' Anyone seeing it for the first time is in for a real treat. The story is of an experienced gangster who attempts to create the perfect crime. Its simple enough, collect seven of the most professional and trustworthy men in the business, assign them code names, tell them just enough about the crime to do their part, snatch the haul, then rendezvous in a warehouse after the job and split the take. The men selected are top of the line actors like Lawrence Tierney as the Boss Joe Cabot, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Chris Penn. Like the best laid plans, the unexpected was not included and therefor becomes the focus of a violent shouting match with guns. Between themselves, the heist should have worked, why it didn't has much to do with the body in the trunk (Kirk Baltz) and will have them at each other's throats trying to fathom the reason. The final segment of the film makes it the most exciting climax since the shootout of the Wild Bunch. With dramatic flair and an excellent, but violent dialog, this incredible film will become a Classic. ****
***1/2 out of **** stars
Okay...I've been a big fan of Tarantino's work since he exploded onto the scene in the early nineties. I've watched Dogs several times and watched it again tonight on IFC with the instantaneous intention to finally review it. Not for the squeamish, this one: large pools of blood; screams of pain; a severed ear; people (cops mostly) being blasted with deafening gun shots...so how can Dogs be so darn funny with so much carnage and suffering? Well, it's what makes Tarantino so darn special; the melding of gut-busting dialogue and gore, along with the prototypical wardrobes of black and white gangsta suits. Let us not forget Quentin's love for 70s nostalgia as well, which in one case is evident in his characters parleying about bygone blacksploitation movies and television shows. And what a fantastic ingredient to use Steven Wright's dead-pan voice to introduce all those archaic B-siders on K Billy's Super Sounds of the 70s.
A lot of Reservoir Dogs could be a stage production. I can easily imagine sitting front row in a playhouse watching all the actors hit their marks with precision, and hearing their voices reverberate throughout the building. Obviously, I speak of the warehouse scenes. For me, this is quite an accolade because how often can actors work so wonderfully and successfully in two different mediums with the same story? I realize that Dogs has never been made into a play, but it could be...don't you think?
Only a half-wit would bitch about Tarantino's formulaic storytelling. Does every movie have to begin, then go on to the very next thing, and the very next thing, and the next, and the next? Tick tock tick tock? Zzzzzzzz. What brilliance to amalgamate past, present and future with such rotating uniqueness. Keep teaching your audience to tune-up Quentin. Nothing wrong with starting your story somewhere in the middle and going anywhere you want from there. Way to go man, is what I say.
It seems as if Tarantino's career will be a bit like Kubrick's: quality instead of quantity. The bummer is having to wait for his next project, which can never come soon enough for me. What I love most about Q is his obvious great love for film-making. He seemingly has a child-like enthusiasm for the creative process, and his love for simply viewing movies, let along making them, is very evident.
Keep making movies as if you're watching them for $9.50 like most of us Quentin. If you do, you'll always have an audience that is just as excited about your stories as you are!
For me, there's too much emphasis placed on Tarantino's technique of
cinematic self-reference and personal homage. Although it has become
something of a defining characteristic of his work - even more-so since
the release Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) - it is simply one single layer of
a rich tapestry of elements that make his films so effective. When
Reservoir Dogs (1992) was first released, the referential aspect was
almost completely ignored. Instead, critics applauded Tarantino for his
strong characters, clever dialog, use of violence and music; and the
effortless use of structure and narrative, which helped to turn a
seemingly pedestrian crime-thriller into an exciting and enigmatic
exercise in cinematic tension building. Over the years, audience have
noted the references to films such as City on Fire (1987), The Taking
of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and The Killing (1956) (though Tarantino
claims to be more influenced by the original novel, as opposed to the
Kubrick film) and dismissed these references as simple theft. This is
foolish though, and flies in the face of the very cannibalistic nature
of film, and the idea that every single story, character and theme
analysed in 20th century art can be traced back to a secondary source
related centuries before.
If you've seen enough films, then you can easily draw surface similarities from almost anything made subsequent to 1970. In fact, in a world in which comic book adaptations and "foreign language" remakes dominate the box-office; Tarantino's approach is truly defiant. If he were a musician, he'd most probably be a hip-hop producer - someone like RZA or Danger Mouse - taking ideas and samples from a variety of different works and blending it all together to produce something new and exciting. So the themes may be well worn, but the presentation and technique is electrifying. Think of that opening scene in particular; a seriously minded discussion of the textual-interpretations of Madonna's Like a Virgin and a debate on the ethics of tipping that not only sets the scene - quite literally - for the use of dialog to follow, but establishes the single characters and their personalities perfectly. We take it for granted now, but try to think of any other American crime film made prior to 1991 that manages to successfully appropriate a scene of pop-cultural discourse into the opening sequences of a tense and violent thriller. Then, look at how it moves seamlessly into the credit sequence; a moment of decade defining cool that some have seen as a nod to A Clockwork Orange (1971), though it really serves a far more functional means of further introducing this broad ensemble of characters, so as not to over-complicate the actual viewing of the film once we get into the telling of the story.
There's then a flash-forward, introducing the idea of a fractured narrative. Again, we take it for granted, but think about it; any other heist film and the scene of the heist would dominate. Here, we don't even get to see it. As a result, the botched robbery and the violence that is described to us takes on a more enigmatic purpose, creating something of a Rashomon (1950) like conundrum in which we're forced to take these varying characters at their word, and - much like the protagonists of the film itself - draw our own conclusions and allegiances. By not showing the heist, Tarantino adds to the tension, not only between the characters on screen, but between the characters and the audience. It's a radical move on the part of the filmmaker; as jaw-dropping as making a film about the D-Day invasions without ever showing the soldiers hit Normandy. The film is also remarkable for the atmosphere that Tarantino creates - both in the way in which he stretches out shots and scenes beyond the point that most other filmmakers would, and of course, in his careful use of framing, minimal production design and the use of hand-held cinematography - all to establish a sense of urgency and unease that escalates as the plot goes backwards and forwards on itself. It's a definite pressure cooker-like environment being developed throughout, as each scene builds and builds and then cuts back in on itself; giving us more of the back-story and further reinforcing the bitter ironies of both the characters and that ending.
It is also helped by the fine performances, with every member of the cast defining these characters, not simply as archetypes or conventional components of the narrative, but somewhat believable human beings. This quality is pushed further by the use of the fragmented narrative, as Tarantino presents the story almost like a jigsaw puzzle, with information held back from us until the right juncture in the narrative, at which point we can finally put all of the pieces into place and then stand back to appreciate the view. Without question, Reservoir Dogs is a tense, coolly ironic thriller that not only subverts the usual codes and conventions you would expect to find in a heist thriller, but does so in such a way as to remain light, effortless and greatly entertaining. Today it is synonymous with changing the landscape of mid-90's cinema; creating a brief resurgence of intelligent, character driven films that were quirky, self-aware and filed with that spirit of independence. However, before the hype and the greater success of Pulp Fiction (1994), it was simply a great film; one that presented a clever story, cinematic characters and an unconventional approach to on screen violence that reminded people that you could have more from cinema than a bland reproduction of a story.
I didn't enjoy this movie one bit. I found this movie to be very boring and absolutely preposterous at times. The only reason I even gave it a 3/10 is because it was so bad it actually made me laugh at times. The story line lacks depth and promotes violence. The hatred that is exhibited for police officers is somewhat repulsive. It was actually painful to watch. The actors did a good job at portraying characters but most of the scenes are so unnecessary and irrelevant that I lost interest in them. This movie is an absolute NO from me! Do not waste the hour and 39 minutes of your lives. I am actually in awe at the amount of people in the reviews describing this movie as a "classic".
There are so many perspectives on which to praise "Reservoir Dogs".
First and foremost, it has the edgy realism that began to slip away in
the "Kill Bill" films (which I still very much praise and enjoy), and
was completely discarded in his recent film "Inglourious Basterds".
It's like recently Tarantino let his fame go to his head and just went
all out without thinking about if what he showed on screen made any
real sense. This film of his, basically his first three, are the ones I
admire the most. Not to mention the way the story is told, it's just
very intriguing from the start. We see only brief glimpses of what
actually happened at this bank job that apparently went very, very,
bad. The cast was phenomenal throughout and this film had the chemistry
to really make the tension play out realistically and brutally later
on. The atmosphere is solid and full of well acted malice and is pretty
unpredictable. In fact, amidst all the insane and gruesome scenes which
some may struggle to sit through ("Can you hear me now?")is a very
nicely paced plot that in reality is probably one of the greatest
crime/thriller pieces ever written.
The talent here is undeniable, and every performance is just awesome. The ones I really admired the most were that of Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, and definitely Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink. And where as I believe every individual character stood out quite well, the two that stirred up the most in me was Tim Roth as the nefarious Mr. Orange, but over all Michael Madsen as the sadistic Mr. Blonde. I will never forget Madsen as the soda sipping psychopath. Tarantino does well himself I must admit, and kudos to the often over-looked performance of Kirk Baltz as the unfortunate Officer Marvin Nash.
With its tremendously talented cast breathing life into these characters we know so little about, coupled with its very involving story and well placed music, it all comes together as arguably Tarantino's most refined work.
What is good about this movie? Probably the same things what makes other Tarantino's movies good: great soundtrack, good actors, stylish direction and of course - violence (actauly there was only one scene which I would call really violent). The plot is pretty simple but it's portrayed out of chronological order (just like in Pulp Fiction). Probably that is what makes this movie different. Also everything in a movie looked pretty realistic (like violence) and all characters acted very natural (there were many memorable dialogs, so you could know each character better). This movie is very original, stylish and worth your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The plot of this movie just blew me away...It was just awesome. Then the acting was great for a non-all star cast, and Tarantino executed it very well. My impression on the movie changed, because I heard it had banned in other countries for violence, but there wasn't that much. I thought it was going to have a ton of action and stuff, but it was really just a cool movie with some pretty awesome scenes in it. I thought some parts were funny, some parts were smart, some parts were sad, and some parts were just cool. That's why I like Tarantino, most of his films blend so much stuff into them, this is one of those. Also, the ending of Reservoir Dogs has to be one of the best endings to a movie I have ever seen. Overall, great movie.9/10.
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