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 independent film-making.
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.
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