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on July 18, 2004
Quentin Tarantino has done an amazing job at taking a very low budget, and using a unique method of story telling and raw dialogue to turn it around. He was also lucky to get a great cast much like Pulp Fiction did. This film creates a new genre, because his un-chronological and very raw vision will be and is being copied all over the world. Many people criticize Tarantino for worshipping violence and profanity. However, when you examine the film's plot, it is really quite reasonable that characters swear as much as they do. And also, the violence in the movie only seems as bad as you make it in your mind, as the worst parts are only partially shown. This is another one of Tarantino's tricks. Some great performances are had too, for example Michael Madsen. His cold-blooded and partially psychotic character misleads us, up until a scene where he attempts to burn a kidnapped police officer, where our adoration of him turns to hate. However, Quentin quickly balances that out wonderfully. The ending may be a little "off" for some people, but all in all a great film.
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on April 28, 2004
"Reservoir Dogs" was Quentin Tarantino's low-budget heist movie that wasn't about a heist at all. With his knack for picking unique yet logical situations and exploding them onto the screen, he deftly takes us through the events that occur immediately after a failed heist.
There's a rule about Quentin Tarantino films: the first time you watch them, you stay off-balance the entire time, never sure what's going to happen or who's going to die. The second time, you sit back to savor the dialogue and the details. Both elements are crafted with equal fervor in this film as in all of his others--a suspenseful, off-kilter plot coupled with masterful (and unique) execution.
Of course, being so low-budget, this film is small in scale. The locations are few, and the fact that all of the really important events occur on one set gives the movie a very 'tiny' feel. It doesn't feel as detailed and comprehensive as "Pulp Fiction", or as sweeping and free-roving as "Kill Bill", but it has its own charm nonetheless.
Memorable moments include Michael Madsen dancing enthusiastically as he brutalizes a young cop, Tarantino himself analyzing Madonna's music, and the stunning Hamlet-esque conclusion which leaves you with a decidedly bent mind.
Despite its smaller scale, this is still a fine Tarantino picture and well worth the price. Highly recommended.
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on April 20, 2004
RESERVOIR DOGS is a classic movie. It is responsible, almost single-handedly (along with SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE) for ushering in the current era of "indie films." Right around the same time that every home in America seemed to have a VCR, these "little" movies came out, tacking daring subjects in a daring manner. And while they got little attention in traditional movie-houses, everyone heard the buzz on them and rented them and turned them into cult classics.
I watched the movie again the other day. It shows clearly the Tarentino hallmarks that would make him huge with PULP FICTION, KILL BILL, etc. Snappy, clever, filthy dialogue. Elaborate violence...unrealistic amounts of blood pouring from one person's body. Cool camera moves and great use of music. (After all, can anyone really hear STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU in quite the same way again?).
But the film is showing its rough edges. What seemed edgy and new now sometimes looks a little lazy. Long shots through doorways, where the camera sits still and the actors move in and out of the shot. Kinda cool, but...kinda boring. Cool male actors encouraged to yell and overact. Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi are all great actors, and they're pretty darn memorable in this film. BUT, they are also occasionally prone to rage and scream above what seems believable. Many of the "tricks" of this film have been used so often since, that unfortunately, they feel trite now. It's not fair to blame this film for what came later. Therefore, I still say it's a classic, BUT, not always a classic that thrills with repeated viewings. PULP FICTION, all these years later, still tickles me and excites me. But there were long stretches of RESERVOIR DOGS where I felt like dozing.
However, if you HAVEN'T seen it, I still recommend that you do!
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on February 13, 2004
While opinions seem to vary widely on this movie (and the entire QT catalog for that matter), Reservoir Dogs is certainly a movie that comes up when you start talking about films that changed the rules and challenged the audience. The movie is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those short on patience. It requires your full attention, pushes and pulls you in directions you don't expect and forces you WAY out of your comfort zone.
And I'm not just talking about the violence. The non-sequential structure of the film can be difficult to track, the emotional reactions of the characters are far from ordinary, and there is little "Hollywood-style" storytelling to it at all. In short, it's the anti-chick-flick...
But it is still an essential film for those who consider themselves film junkies. The modern-day "independent film" boom (which many would say has been commercialized in its own way) owes a great deal to movies like this, as well as sex, lies & videotape and many others.
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on February 1, 2004
Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs is an American ganster classic. It's clever and well written, nicely acted and intense and even a bit funny at times. The film's cast includes an ensemble of fine actors including: Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde, Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, Tim Roth as Mr. Orange and Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink along with a small role from Tarantino himself.
In 1992, Tarantino stunned many with this fine acheivement in filmmaking, working from his own screenplay. Madsen, Keital, Roth, Buscemi, and Tarantino play gansters all working together in an elaborate heist. Suddenly, the cops are already in place and a bloody ambush takes place, and it seems that there is a set-up in play. One of the gansters among them is more deceptive than he seems and the intensity is at its highest.
As well as know this is a Quentin Tarantion film so it's most obviously violent. Reservoir Dogs is rated R for Strong Violence and Language. The violence includes bloody gunplay, fisticuffs and grisly scenes of torture, including the infamous "ear" scene. Michael Madsen is perfect as a psychopath, he's malicious, brutal and even in some cases funny.
Tarantino soon went on the road to stardom making bigger movies,
including the amazing Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films, Vol. 2 is due out April 16, 2004 by the way. If you want to see an excellent debut from a great director, see Reservoir Dogs. There are few directors like Tarantino, that's why you should see this movie, cause this is one hell of a movie.
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on December 17, 2003
I know I will catch hell for this from diehard Pulp Fiction fans, but this is Tarantino's best movie, in my opinion. I can understand why they would feel this way, because I feel like those films are equals, in many ways: both really have no plot, both have great dialogue, and both are very low budget. However, Reservoir Dogs comes out on top for one reason: it is simply more substantial. Pulp Fiction was really just a collage of various gangsters and lowlifes who are vaguely connected to each other; Reservoir Dogs is about a bank heist gone wrong.
Reservoir Dogs also gets a bad rap from movie critics because they feel that Tarantino liberally ripped-off many Hong Kong action pictures. While this may or may not be legit (I, for one, have never seen any of the foreign films he is supposed to have plagirized), one can clearly see that there is nothing original here, at least as far as plot is concerned. But that in itself is not unusual: look at The Usual Suspects (a very good movie by the way); it is basically a retelling of the themes in Reservoir Dogs, but no one called it a rip-off. That's because it placed more emphasis on characterization than plot (which is the basic idea behind ALL of Tarantino's films). Reservoir Dogs is the same way: an old story made new and exciting by an enthusiastic new director (he was at the time of this movie) and a brilliant cast.
That being said, we can move on to the movie. As I said before (and countless others before me), this movie is concerned with a bank robbery gone bad: several gangsters (all of which using a color code alias so their identities are kept secret from each other) individually make their way back to their "base" after the failed holdup (which is never shown on the film, except for a very brief flashback occuring outside the bank). Each is convinced that a "rat" is responsible (rat being a traitor, and not a disease carrying rodent, for those of you stupid to gangster lingo). The movie consists of flashbacks that tells how each character got into this mess. After the rat is revealed, all hell breaks loose: I won't go into details.
Tarantino compensates for a non-existent original plot by way of a terrific script (the opening diner scene is a classic example). Also worth mentioning are the conversations during the flashbacks of Mr. Orange. Strong performances are another plus: everyone in this film is flawless and well suited, even Tarantino himself in a brief, but memorable roll. Unlike alot of actor-directors, Tarantino knows his limits and stays within them; as such, he really comes off well with his characters because he doesn't push his limited acting skills front and center. But his part in this movie is very good, albeit very short. Next would be Steve Buscemi, who plays his characteristic weasel with a viciousness that he hardly ever gets to demonstrate. He is absolutely fantastic in this movie. Great performances are also turned in by Michael Madsen and Tim Roth. Madsen is his usual tough-guy self, but puts a spin on it by being a psychopath (and a very funny one, in a deadpan sort of way). As such, it is great fun to watch him because you don't exactly know what will he will do next. Tim Roth is an actor that I think should be getting ALOT more attention these days because he is truly fantastic here (as he was in his brief role in Pulp Fiction; fortunately, in this film, he has a much longer and critical role). He is incredible as Mr. Orange who, while spending alot of the movie bleeding, is torn between a horrible situation that he can't control. Last, but certainly not least, is Harvery Keitel, another vastly underappreciated character actor. Keitel has often been overshadowed in his movies because alot of his early ones were with De Niro. While he often plays the same type of character, he is incredible in this movie because he balances a cold-hearted pragmatism with an emotional involvement (evidenced by his argument with Mr. Pink and, later, his actions in Orange's flashback). Other minor actors (Penn, Tierney) are equally good, but are not on screen as much.
The low-budget look to the film is a complement to the story's gritty look at honor between thieves. The movie looks like it was shot in the seventies, which is way many people probably accused Tarantino of being a Scorsese poser (not true). The wonderful period music from that time is used extremely well. Tarantino has a true knack for that, which was later made famous by Pulp Fiction's great surf soundtrack. Pulp Fiction, though, doesn't have the great K-Billy (hilariously voiced by Steven Wright). The scenes are all well shot and directed. Contrary to my preconceptions about Tarantino, he is not a fast paced director: many of the scenes are slower paced than most movies. Pulp Fiction is also this way. Reservoir Dogs certainly isn't a slow film, but it is hardly a fast one. Alot of that opinion is probably because of the unbelievably overhyped violence in the movie: aside from a few very brief (though vicious) outbursts of violence (most of which occurs during flashback) this movie contains about as much violence as any cop show on television. It certainly IS violent, but not by the extent that critics have portrayed it. A great example is the infamous "torture" scene. I won't tell what happens, but the hype surrounding this scene is unbelievable and unwarranted, especially since 90% of it isn't even shown on film. However, don't get me wrong: as I said, this is a pretty violent movie, but nothing as violent as an average war movie.
That being said, in short,: great movie. I still think it is slightly better than Pulp Fiction (which, I would like to say, is an AWESOME movie), but rent it for yourself to find out.
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on December 16, 2003
Another film about a gang of thieves that turns sour, will you say. Yes, but it is highly humorous and deeply barbaric. It shows how low these gangsters can go. They become beasts to others and beasts to themselves. They decide of the rules and they kill those who do not respect them. It is total alienation to the « mission » : the gangsters do not have any autonomy or freedom left. Their names are erased and changed to aliases imposed onto them. Their judgment is in the same way erased and replaced by « professional » reactions, like it or not. And when this turns sour, because a cop has infiltrated the gang, they all try to stick to the rules to the end, and hence to their death, but strangely enough, they kill one another in some kind of killing merry-go-round. The irony of the situation is that one manages to escape with the loot because he is swift enough to get out of the firing line and to shoot on the last survivor of the last firing round. There is always an intelligent wolf in a pack of wolves. But that is a habit with the films of this director, except that this one is a little bit more linear in the story telling than the famous « Pulp Fiction ». A perfect exercise in studying what losing control of reality means and what being alienated to your own rules can become. Does it speak of real life for real ordinary people ? I may even go as far as saying : yes probably.
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on December 2, 2003
Riveting, holds you throughout in its hypnotic spell, but ultimately falls short of the mark he later set with Pulp Fiction. Here, style wins out over substance, as Tarrantino updates Peckinpah. The characters are memorable, he seamlessly weaves the madcap violence with the musical soundtrack. You will never think of these songs the same way again. All of Tarrantino's skills are in full display. A dazzling debut of one of America's most talented directors in many years.
But, one can all too easily find the sources to his inspirations in this movie. The "Like a Virgin" discussion was lifted from Levinson's memorable "Bonanza" discussion in "Tin Men," which oddly enough seemed to lurk behind many scenes in this movie. You can see that Tarrantino watched scores of videos while working as a clerk and has spliced them all together to create this action-packed thriller. There's not much to it, except his remarkable ability to create tension, which is fundamental to good film-making. Tarrantino learned his craft but the masterpiece was still to come.
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on July 26, 2003
Reservoir Dogs is Quentin Tarantino's first movie and it proved right away that he was a genious. he is an extraordinary writer, perfecting the dialogue and details of every scene. Reservoir Dogs actually gets 4 1/2 stars in my opinion.
5 criminals are brought together by Joe (Lawerence Tierney) to pull off a diamond job at a jewelry store. He assembles the guys and give them aliases to protect each other's identity: Mr. Blonde (Micheal Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi, Mr Orange (Tim Roth), Mr White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr Blue. Mr. Pink: "Why am I Mr. Pink?" Joe: "Cause you're a faggot"
The opening scene takes place in a resteraunt with all the guys sitting at the table. The next scene is Mr. White driving to the rendevous point after the heist with Mr Orange in the back, shot in the gut. Once they get there Mr. Orange passes out and Mr. Pink shows up at the warehouse also. Mr. White and Mr. Pink go into another room and talk the situation over. They both agree that some crew member ratted them out, and try to figure out who ratted them out. Mr. Blonde shows up calm as ever and explains why he went on a shooting spree in the store. "someone set the alarm off...if they would've followed the directions i gave them i wouldn't have shot em'" Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), the son of Joe is on his way there. While he's trying to get there Mr Blonde shows Mr. White and Mr. Pink a surprise that he thinks they'd like. he takes them out to his trunk and shows him a cop he had kidnapped from the jewelry store. They take him in and beat on him and torture him until Eddie shows up. He takes Mr. Pink and Mr. White to get rid of their cars to get rid of evidence. He leaves Mr. Blonde to look after the passed out Mr. Orange and the cop. He starts beatin on the cop and slices his face and cuts his ear off. "Be right back" he says and goes to get a gas can out of his trunk and empties it all around him. The cop is pleading for his life. Blonde pulls out his lighter and just as he was ready to light it Orange empties a clip into his stomach and chest. I won't spoil the rest for you.
Overall a great movie. Tarantino's 1st masterpiece. I think it was better than Pulp Fiction. Great directing, great writing and most of all great dialogue, just as in Pulp Fiction. That's what sticks out in my mind with Tarantino..his ability to write what people would actually say and putting the right dialect on it and everything. The only problem i have with this movie is that I think it should've been longer to tell the story more thourougly. But overall a must see movie. Rent before you buy, not everybody's favorite type of movie.
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on April 25, 2003
...'cause I mean that as praise. Now how you can, in keepin' with the true meanin' of the term, call this movie a "film noir" is beyond me (Where's the femme fatale? Where're the rainy nighttime settings?) but is' pretty obvious with a title like 'Reservoir Dogs' that is' not gonna be the most spiritually redeeming story in the world. That kinda goes without sayin'. An' since I saw this AFTER 'Pulp Fiction' I already had an inkling of the kinda work Quentin Tarantino was puttin' forth. The general plot ain't nothin' new: A group of bank robbers are brought together to pull a big job that winds up goin' totally awry an' leads to mistrust an' violence within their circle when they begin to suspect one'a them is an undercover cop. What IS new (or I guess I should say WAS new, because since this movie's come out I seen more copycats than I could keep up with) is the style an' approach to the material. These guys're smarmy, arrogant fellas, but with real self-assertive, easy going, an', well, above all, likeable personalities. They discuss the logistics of Madonna's early work, try an' figure out which actresses starred on which cheesy '70s cop shows an' movies, an' sing along to pop-rock oldies on the local radio station while goin' on rants about how they "haven't heard that song since it was new". They've got the same lil' eccentricities an' annoyances an' moods as the rest'a society. In fact, the only thing that sets these guys apart, is that they steal an' kill for a livin'. Other than that, they're really the kinda people you wouldn't mind playin' poker with or bettin' on the Super Bowl with or e'en jus' shootin' the breeze with over a few brewskeys. An', oh yeah, that makes it all the more difficult when e'ything goes haywire in a bank robbery an' they one-by-one begin to convene at a warehouse to find out everyone's either dead, dying or paranoid with fear an' turnin' their guns on each other.
Harvey Keitel seems to have the most complex character as he tends to show compassion an' good nature while alternately sayin' things like "If it's between your life an' ten years, an' YOU'RE in MY way..." The story unfolds in out-of-sequence bits an' builds to a pretty startling conclusion. This was a landmark of a debut for Tarantino an' e'en though people dog him for rippin' things off from other directors, to me it seems more like he's moldin' aspects of his favorite genres, favorite directors, favorite films, television shows, music, etc. an' mixin' it up into a gumbo of jus' pure uninhibited entertainment. Is' what breakin' new ground is all about, an' though I think he delved much more into his creativity on 'Pulp Fiction' an', to a lesser extent, 'Jackie Brown', he hadda start somewhere.
I ain't even mean to get all insightful like 'at for THIS one, but y'all know how I do. How 'bout if I do this: Forget all that nonsense you jus' read an' take it all up in one sentance. This is jus' a good movie. Thas' a lil' clearer. An' by the way, Michael Madsen as Mr. Blond completely stole every scene he was in (underrated actor alert!).
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