IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! Reservoir Dogs

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Every now and again, when you start taking on work as a critic, it's beneficial to remind yourself of what's good in your chosen medium and why it's worth defending. It's why I've been playing Half-Life 2 again lately. That's also the reason why Reservoir Dogs was bumped to the top of my Netflix queue. Well, that, and there's the fact that my wife hadn't seen it yet and she's even more critical of films than I am. If something can get past her radar, it's pretty damn good. And Reservoir Dogs passed with flying colors.

Courtesy Miramax
From right to left: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), Joe (Lawrence Tierney), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) and Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi)

An independent film darling & cult classic, Reservoir Dogs depicts the events leading up to a jewel heist and its aftermath. LA gangster Joe Cabot and his son, Eddie, have put together a team of six men to intercept a shipment of Israeli diamonds from the shop serving as a way station. The team are all instructed to use aliases, based on colors and picked out by Joe because, as he points out, having four guys fight over who gets to be Mr. Black isn't a good way to start a caper. Of the six men who undertake the job, Mr. Brown & Mr. Blue are killed, Mr. Orange is mortally wounded but in the care of Mr. White, Mr. Pink stashes the goods and Mr. Blonde abducts a cop. Mr. Pink suspects an informant, but Mr. White's concern is the survival of Mr. Orange. With Eddie and his father en route to resolve things, Mr. Blonde interested in 'entertaining' his guest and any one of them possibly being an undercover cop, the disparate stories are set on a collision course with one another.

Courtesy Miramax
"Donny, you are out of your element!"
(Whups, wrong movie.)

This is where it all began for Quentin Tarantino. This was the film in which he demonstrated his skills as both a writer and a director. As a writer, there are certain hallmarks to his work other than the liberal profanity. His dialog tends to weave in and out of itself as much as his storylines do, but never seems to feel unnatural or even overly rehearsed. Despite some of his characters being unashamedly larger than life, they talk the way normal people talk. Both his characterizations and the references to movie pop culture underscore a deep love for all thing cinema but especially for the likes of Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and other so-called 'low' film genres.

This affinity also informs the way in which Tarantino directs. While one might dismiss some of his films as ultra-violent cuss-heavy fodder for the masses, his camera work and shot composition reveals a deeper meaning to his films. Tarantino isn't really overly concerned over what these characters do, but who they are. Sure, sometimes he can get a little self-indulgent and gratuitous in some of his work (I'm looking at you, Kill Bill vol. 1) but overall, while action and gratuity exist they don't normally do so for their own sake. Quick cuts during action sequences compared to long, intimate shots of conversations show that this is an artist who's not only exercising his talent, but also trying to convey a message, even bearing his soul from time to time.

Courtesy Miramax

All of these elements are present in Reservoir Dogs, and while it isn't as quotable a classic as Pulp Fiction, it is an extremely solid work with excellent acting and a great pace. While the story highlights Tarantino's trademark nonlinearity, it never becomes hard to follow. We come to know most of these men pretty well in the short time we spend with them. Everybody's flawed and nobody's heroic, making this a great ensemble work instead of a lead actor with good supporters. Quentin Tarantino tried some things here that, at the time, were pretty new in this realm of cinema, and to this day people are emulating his work.

There's nobody to whom I can't recommend this film. Noir fans are going to love this throwback to the days of dime novels with hard-boiled manly figures moving from scene to scene with square jaws and black ties. Film students will find a lot of inspiration in the writing, cinematography and overall directorial sense. Fans of the actors will see them at their prime, working off of one another for extremely natural and well-done scenes. The violence can be visceral at times, and in fact, at the Sundance screening Wes Craven and special effects artist Rick Baker walked out, considering the violence to be unnerving due to its high level of realism. So the only people who won't be seeing Reservoir Dogs are squeamish folk and those who aren't fond of people using a lot of cuss words. However they are seriously missing out. As I said, this is the kind of thing I watch just to remind myself of what good film-making is all about and why it's a delight not only to see good new films but also to rip bad films a superfluous orifice. As a matter of fact, from now on when I talk about this film, I'm going to drop 'cult' from its descriptor. Reservoir Dogs is a masterful, singular and balls-out classic.

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

How very very ironic, I just watched this film for the first time an hour ago. Yes, I'd never seen Reservoir Dogs before.

What a masterpiece. Tarantino is the best nerd in the world.

Great to see Harvey Keitel back on form again after his 70's heyday too. So yeah, great cast, great director, great script.

And great review! You practically took the words out of my mouth.

EDIT: Ooh, title! Congratumalations.

I've never seen the film before either, and according to the review I must. So I'll be on the scope for it.

Congrats on the title, and congrats on yet another great review!

Pimppeter2:
I've never seen the film before either, and according to the review I must. So I'll be on the scope for it.

Congrats on the title, and congrats on yet another great review!

You must see it.
It is my 2nd favorite movie of all time, and since I'm always right about everything, it is fantastic.
Nice review, also. You made great points.

My favorite Tarantino flick.
Phenomenal review as well, particularly in the audio department.
Your voice flows smoothly and remains quite crisp throughout - much like the smoke of a lit cigarette.

I'm not missing another one of these. You can count on that.

Pimppeter2:
Congrats on the title, and congrats on yet another great review!

Thanks! Congrats on the lifting of your permaban! ;)

Radeonx:
It is my 2nd favorite movie of all time, and since I'm always right about everything, it is fantastic.

May I ask what your first is?

Hazy:
I'm not missing another one of these. You can count on that.

I'm glad to hear it. Always happy to know when I get something right!

BlueInkAlchemist:

Radeonx:
It is my 2nd favorite movie of all time, and since I'm always right about everything, it is fantastic.

May I ask what your first is?

Pulp Fiction.
Overall, though I love every Tarantino movie.

Radeonx:

BlueInkAlchemist:

Radeonx:
It is my 2nd favorite movie of all time, and since I'm always right about everything, it is fantastic.

May I ask what your first is?

Pulp Fiction.
Overall, though I love every Tarantino movie.

Thus adding another entry to the ever-expanding list of "Reasons why I like Radeonx"

Hazy:

Radeonx:

BlueInkAlchemist:

Radeonx:
It is my 2nd favorite movie of all time, and since I'm always right about everything, it is fantastic.

May I ask what your first is?

Pulp Fiction.
Overall, though I love every Tarantino movie.

Thus adding another intry to the ever-expanding list of "Reasons why I like Radeonx"

You don't need reasons to like me, because there are billions.
What someone needs to discover is a reason not to like me.
Narcissism doesn't count.

Radeonx:

You don't need reasons to like me, because there are billions.
What someone needs to discover is a reason not to like me.
Narcissism doesn't count.

Well, don't know if this is a reason not to like you, but it could be a reason to fear you.

Your avatar's beard.

It is epic.

Great review, as always.

I laughed at the Big Labowski reference.

And now I want to watch this film again. This is easily my favourite Tarantino film. While I think Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown are more accomplished creations, Reservoir Dog just always seemed punchier, and I prefer its style.

The review is good, but I can't help feeling you didn't give some aspects of the film their due.

In the paragraph about Tarantino's concerns and shot composition, I reckon you could have been more specific about whatever message you thought Tarantino was trying to convey. It's quite a common trait in game reviews, to hint at profundities then cut short before examining them, but I think by saying that he's baring his soul you need to qualify that somewhat. Although I've got to the point now that I'm convinced that his soul just consists of stylish collages of genre pieces. I'm one of those who think that he's an infuriatingly limited director in some areas.

Quentin Tarantino tried some things here that, at the time, were pretty new in this realm of cinema

I reckon that really begs for some expansion, if you can recognise them, you can probably list a couple of his innovations.

Also, when you mention the film's non-linearity, that's a fairly vague term and I reckon that you understated the impact of that (and the film's violence, coming to think of it), you probably could have pinned down the set up more precisely.

Damn, one of the things I liked about the review was how short it was, yet all I can fault is a lack of content. With an internationally known figure like Tarantino, you can afford to omit some details but it seems at times you truncated your own opinion. The review's length and style makes it very easily digestible, something which all my suggestions would probably counteract, and "MOAR WORDS" is a crummy tip, but if you could find a way to expand your opinion a bit more in this current format I reckon it'd be a stronger piece of writing.

Shame that, in my opinion, after this and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's work went on a steady decline where he tried too hard to make his films have that Tarantino feel

Still on of my favorites to date :D

Mr Ink 5000:
Shame that, in my opinion, after this and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's work went on a steady decline where he tried too hard to make his films have that Tarantino feel

I reckon he was on the right track with Jackie Brown, best character development I'd seen from him so far and it wasn't quite so aggressively stylised imo, but it wasn't as successful as his other films, and then came Kill Bill.

pigeon_of_doom:
Damn, one of the things I liked about the review was how short it was, yet all I can fault is a lack of content. With an internationally known figure like Tarantino, you can afford to omit some details but it seems at times you truncated your own opinion. The review's length and style makes it very easily digestible, something which all my suggestions would probably counteract, and "MOAR WORDS" is a crummy tip, but if you could find a way to expand your opinion a bit more in this current format I reckon it'd be a stronger piece of writing.

Hey, I welcome all constructive criticism. So thank you! And even with the weaknesses, it made you want to watch the movie again, so I feel I still got my point across.

Mr Ink 5000:
Shame that, in my opinion, after this and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's work went on a steady decline where he tried too hard to make his films have that Tarantino feel

I agree with Pigeon, Jackie Brown was a solid film that I should probably watch again, and while Kill Bill had some pretty glaring problems, I have to admit I like the fact it's out there. It's visionary and experimental while being a loving homage to cheesy kung-fu films, and I'd still watch it over some of the stuff that inspired it. The Octagon with Chuck Norris, for example.

That was an excellent review, the only thing you missed was how excellent the soundtrack is. Tarantino's soundtracks are fricking sweet.

BlueInkAlchemist:
And even with the weaknesses, it made you want to watch the movie again, so I feel I still got my point across.

Very true. While I thought "I really should watch that film again sometime" from the moment I saw the title, I've been itching to see it again ever since I finished the review. I'm not entirely sure if it would've had that effect on me if I hadn't already seen it (reviews very rarely have that effect on me).

BlueInkAlchemist:
while Kill Bill had some pretty glaring problems, I have to admit I like the fact it's out there. It's visionary and experimental while being a loving homage to cheesy kung-fu films, and I'd still watch it over some of the stuff that inspired it. The Octagon with Chuck Norris, for example.

I've never liked Kill Bill, but I have to admit I find its existence quite refreshing too. For all his shortcomings, I'd like more directors around inspired by the usually disparaged "low culture". I'm bored of films referencing respected figures like Fellini and Eisenstein. Great, now I kinda want to watch Kill Bill again to re-evaluate it, one of the very few films I actually stopped watching halfway through. And I was 14 at the time, practically in the film's target demographic!

Oh, and congratulations on your user name's italicizationhood, Blue (or Ink, or Al, or however you like your username shortened).

i love resevoir dogs

pigeon_of_doom:
Oh, and congratulations on your user name's italicizationhood, Blue (or Ink, or Al, or however you like your username shortened).

Folks who don't know me personally tend to go with Blue. :)

I can always rely on you and pimppeter for consistently astounding writing.

A tip of the entire hat shop to you, sir.

got to love that intro.

domble:
I can always rely on you and pimppeter for consistently astounding writing.

A tip of the entire hat shop to you, sir.

I consider that high praise from you, sir, considering how much I love Caffeine. Reminds me, next time I read one I need to leave a comment...

liveslowdiefast:
got to love that intro.

If I ever do Pulp Fiction, you better believe I'll be playing 'Misirlou' at some point.

 

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