Friday, February 26, 2010

“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?”

I’ve got no clever preface for this, so let me just say that I’d never seen most of Quentin Tarantino’s films, so I decided to remedy that, starting with 1992’s Reservoir Dogs.

Simply put, something goes wrong during a simple jewelry store heist for six crooks and the survivors are trying to figure out what the hell happened and who’s the rat in the group. Then there’s a bunch of flashbacks for certain important characters that help fill in the details to the audience. Simple, but effective.

Mr. White/Larry Dimmick: Harvey Keitel is a tough guy veteran of plenty of heists and when things go wrong, he tries to keep a level head while trying to keep the badly wounded Mr. Orange alive. He’s a crook, but he’s sensible and sympathetic.

Mr. Orange/Freddy Newandyke: Tim Roth is one of the younger members of the gang and he’s got the unfortunate distinction of spending most of the movie lying in a bloody mess on the floor with a gunshot wound to the stomach. Probably the most interesting character of the movie and Roth does one hell of a job.

Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega: Michael Madsen would be the badass of the film if he wasn’t a complete psychopath who gunned down a bunch of civilians when the heist went sour. He’s newly out of prison and likes listening to the radio while he works.

Mr. Pink: Steve Buscemi is our extremely paranoid (justifiable) guy who really tries to stay rational and calm, but he’s really on edge for the movie.

Mr. Brown: Quentin Tarantino is really only a factor in the table scene at the beginning and gets blown away during the chaos of the heist. Fodder, basically.

Mr. Blue: Edward Bunker (who actually did serve prison time for robbery, among other things) is the oldest and most mysterious member of the crew. Doesn’t say much and disappears after the first scene. We’re told that he was killed, but I don’t believe it. I think he’s still out there, and that makes him the baddest ass among badasses in this movie.

Nice Guy Eddie Cabot: Chris Penn is the, for lack of a better word, handler of the heist. He’s a daddy’s boy and an annoying bastard who isn’t very nice at all, actually. And he wears an ugly jacket all the time. He’s a good friend of Mr. Blonde and brings him into the heist.

Joe Cabot: Lawrence Tierney is the mastermind behind the heist. A local bigwig in crime, he’s the planner and he is very, very unhappy that it goes sour.

Marvin Nash: Kirk Baltz is the poor unfortunate cop captured and interrogated by Mr. Blonde. Poor, poor Marvin.

Quentin Tarantino didn’t have much of a budget for the film, and most of it takes place inside of an empty warehouse with all the other locations basically being flashbacks. This works in the movie’s favor, since it gives the movie a claustrophobic feel that just feeds into the paranoia, which in turn ratchets up the tension. The action sequences, when they happen, are quite brutal, disturbing and awesome at the same time. Not to mention the now iconic scenes of the table scene and the walking scene at the beginning.

Quentin Tarantino has got a knack for snappy dialog, which is good, because most of this movie involves angry men talking and then shouting to each other and dropping F-bombs 272 times according to IMDB. He keeps it interesting, and the flashbacks help break up the tension nicely. A simple plot doesn’t mean a bad one, and Tarantino wrings a compelling drama out of the old formula of “it was supposed to be a simple job.” Though he does seem to like rambling a little too long occasionally.

Not that I would know anything about that.


No original score. Which isn’t to say there isn’t music. Its mostly worked in as a radio station (with deadpan comic Steven Wright as the DJ) that plays the songs of the 70s. Of particular note would be “Little Green Bag” by the George Baker Selection and “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel, which, well, makes me view that song in a new light. *shudder*

Not gonna lie, Reservoir Dogs is one hell of an impressive movie. It’s a tight little indie film crime drama. Totally recommended.

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