Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Essentials- "Reservoir Dogs" (1992)

The Essentials-#70

Reservoir Dogs

Most of us only know Quentin Tarantino’s start from “Pulp Fiction.” No doubt that “Pulp Fiction” put Quentin Tarantino on the map as an artist. Tarantino pretty much became a star overnight, something that is really rare in this business, even for the most talented of artists. But “Pulp Fiction” was not Tarantino’s first film; Tarantino’s first film was “Reservoir Dogs.” “Reservoir Dogs” had a lot in common with “Pulp Fiction.” It was a slick little crime caper that was cooler than it needed to be, something that became Tarantino’s M.O. during the 1990’s. But make no mistake, Tarantino was ahead of the game, even on his first movie, and he planted the seeds that would define his entire career in this first film.

The film revolves around crime lord Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) who brings together a group of thieves to perform a diamond heist. (Some people think that the mysterious case in “Pulp Fiction” was the diamonds from this movie.) The men Cabot recruits he gives special alias so that they don’t know each other’s true identities. They are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Brown (Tarantino himself) and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). The heist goes terribly wrong, and the team regroups in a warehouse to sort out what happened. Some believe that one of the teammates is a cop, sending paranoia into overdrive for these characters. We then take each major character, one-by-one, and trace back their steps, learning how they ended up at a job by Cabot.

Keitel, Madsen, Roth and Buscemi have all worked with Tarantino several times in their career, or at the very least, with close associates of Tarantino. I think these actors have really understood the rhythms that Tarantino creates with his films. They embrace the quick wit of Tarantino’s dialogue and they say with a unique edge. They embrace the characters they play and are not afraid to get vulgar and violent in this movie. Madsen in particular is electrifying in this movie, and his ruthless “ear scene” is one of the highlights of the movie. These actors have tons charisma and they make the film great. There is also a great performance by the late Chris Pine, who plays Nice Guy Eddie, Cabot’s son. Pine shows us why we miss him so much and why he was so awesome in the first place.

It is fun to trace back and catch all the little things that have made Tarantino’s career so addicting to watch. As the film opens, the guys are at a diner and the camera continuously circles them as they discuss random topics. Once again, most of the dialogue featured in this movie is written to move the plot or give a context to the movie. Dialogue in this movie just about whatever, something that has always been unique about Tarantino’s films. This is all just proof that Tarantino had the good to be a titular director as early as 1992. He has always been one of those guys that were born to do what he does today. I know most of you are always sick of everybody kissing his butt by now, but some people are born to do something. Tarantino got his calling to Hollywood early and he has been blowing our minds ever since.

“Pulp Fiction” may have been everybody’s early calling from Tarantino and he seems to raise the bar on himself with every new film. But I think we should never forget where an artist comes from. Especially with a film as slick and sly as “Reservoir Dogs.”

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