The Gritty Brilliance of ‘Reservoir Dogs’: Tuesdays with Tarantino Pt 1/8

Greetings and salutations all. I had been thinking of doing a series of posts on the films of my favorite directors and I decided to kick things off with master filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. For this week and the next six we will be looking at his filmography movie by movie. And yes he has done eight features but I will be doing Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2 together.

We begin with his first feature length film (always best to start at the start) the bloody crime thriller and cult classic independent flick Reservoir Dogs which came out all the way back in 1992. I will be discussing plot details so consider this your SPOILER ALERT.

Dogs tells the story of a group of criminals before and after a botched jewelry heist and stars Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, Lawrence Tierney, Tim Roth and Tarantino in a small role; he does love his cameos.

Look at this idiot

I watched this movie for the first time last night – I know, I am a disappointment to cinephiles everywhere – and it was an interesting perspective after having seen most of Tarantino’s work and then going back to where it all began. And right off the bat I must say that Dogs lived up to its exalted reputation and is easily one of the writer/director’s best works.

The film has all the things that would become Tarantino’s trademarks: beautiful and quippy dialogue, pop culture references, non linear storytelling, chapter titles, excessive profanity and extremely bloody violence. Some of the actors in Dogs, like Keitel, Madsen, Roth, would appear in his later films – once Tarantino likes an actor he usually brings them back.

It doesn’t look so bad

The acting in Dogs is fantastic, especially Keitel as the cool and avuncular Mr White, Madsen as the psychopathic Mr Blonde and Roth as the undercover cop Mr Orange. The dialogue in this film is some of Tarantino’s funniest. Whether it is the discussion about the real meaning of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” or Buscemi complaining about his codename “Mr Pink” or explaining why he doesn’t tip, this movie had me laughing my tail off.

Tarantino was also quite adventurous with his shot choices and there is one scene with a static camera and Keitel standing and talking with Buscemi off screen which was quite interesting. And the narrative structure which starts at the middle, flashes forward and goes back and then forward again, was a bold move in a time when movies usually followed a straight line.

Can you hear me now?

The main story of the film is confined to a warehouse and that lends to the tension and volatile atmosphere. This, together with the high quality of the dialogue, gives the feeling of a theatre play at some points, but in a good way. Dogs does not feature a lot of violence but when it does it hits you like a truck to the face.

The most memorable scene is easily Madsen’s Mr Blonde torturing a police officer and cutting off his ear while dancing to “Stuck in the Middle with You”. And then he is shockingly shot dead by Roth’s Mr Orange in the film’s major twist. Runner up memorable violent scenes are Mr White mowing down two police officers and the climactic Mexican standoff.

There’s no Good here so it must be The Bad, The Bad and the Ugly.

I had a fantastic time with this film and any fan of Tarantino , crime thrillers or just the art of films will love it.

Rating: Reservoir Dogs gets a bloody perfect 4/4 severed ears.

So are you a fan of Reservoir Dogs? What’s your favorite scene or line? Feel free to comment below and if you enjoyed this you can share with your peeps. Sharing is caring. 

For Part 2 of Tuesdays with Tarantino and my review of Pulp Fiction you can click here.


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