Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Reservoir Dogs is the film debut of Quentin Tarantino. Now, regardless of what you may think of his movies or of him, Tarantino has become one of film's leading directors. He's so in touch with his work as a writer and director that it would probably be more accurate to call him a storyteller. Because the way that he can tell a story... well golly, ain't it sweet.
The story of Reservoir Dogs revolves around a group of robbers, primarily during the events directly after a heist. At first we see a relaxed, almost fun breakfast between the guys, acquainting us with their names and faces. Then we jump to a bloody car in which Mr. Orange has been shot. He's writhing in pain in the back seat as Mr. White drives to safety. They arrive at a warehouse, their rendezvous location, and go inside to wait for the others. Mr. Pink soon arrives and we get to the crux of the matter: the heist went wrong because, as he puts it, they've been set up. And there we have our independent film noir.
It becomes easily apparent why Reservoir Dogs has become so influential, not to just independent or neo-noir films but to filmmaking in general. Off the bat, the style of dialogue and irreverent humor are both refreshing. The jokes and conversations feel natural, like there isn't a script at all, and the method of storytelling is perfect. The amount of information is just right, getting across character backgrounds, importance of events, etc. Its just enough so we understand without being left to pick up clues; we learn at the same rate as the characters.
This movie is as close to watching a novel as I've ever experienced; it pulls you into the story in the same way that a good book does. The content is real and visceral, at times almost unnerving. Tarantino's use of flashbacks and extended takes combined with Andrzej Sekula's cinematography pull you into the rooms, into the conversations, into the feelings. This is a different era of filmmaking with a flare of innate talent, the same talent that puts coffins in the background, in the shadows of the warehouse where most of the movie is set, a tiny touch of symbolic brilliance that most viewers may not even notice.
In Reservoir Dogs there exists feeling that bleeds off the screen.
While most writers and directors are trying to make movies to impress, to make things polished and overtly realistic, they achieve something akin to an actor's overacting. Once might be enough, but we've arrived in an era of filmmaking where those sensibilities pervade the industry. Every blockbuster is like a shining puzzle: the drama is created almost forcibly and the pieces fit too perfectly and what we're left to watch is something like a ghost. There's no sense of life, unlike the creation at Tarantino's hands. Packed amid the blood and fueling the riotous, machine gun dialogue is the most basic human drama, which makes the story and the setting and the acting all the more intriguing.
In Reservoir Dogs there exists feeling that bleeds off the screen. Paranoia, anger, worry, empathy, panic, humor, discomfort: all come across as easily as the words. The most appropriate description here is realism, because this little indie, noir movie accomplishes what so many big budgets cannot. And while the story may not be completely original it is exactly that realism, that conveyance of feeling at the combination of all the pieces of this movie, that makes this movie good. In the hands of another director this story could've easily turned into a silver screen, passed-over indie flick. But the method, the storytelling, the acting, the soundtrack, all fit together to turn this average crime story into an intriguing, emotive action-drama. And it doesn't hurt that the movie exudes style.
- Acting – 18 / 20
- Story – 14 / 20
- Cinematography – 15 / 20
- Soundtrack – 7 / 10
- Entertainment Factor – 8 / 10
- Neo-Noir – 8 / 10
- Other – 10 / 10
TL;DR: I've seen all of his movies and Tarantino has only gotten better over time, but it's clear that his movies are like wine: they age well. And Tarantino's first feature will be a crime drama for the ages. It's a freshman effort at its finest, but that's okay. It does more with it's warehouse than other movies can manage with $100 million. It may not get across some philosophical meaning of life but it intrigues, it entertains, and it unnerves with some dark humor mixed into the cracks. What more could you want out of 99 minutes?