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Reservoir Dogs

January 28, 2016

Reservoir Dogs (1991)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Actors: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi

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Synopsis: A group of hoodlums meet in an LA warehouse after a planned diamond heist goes horribly wrong.

Review: This virtuoso, crackling piece of cinema is, along with Pulp Fiction, undoubted apex to the whole Quentin Tarantino filmography. And while there may be some retrospective fatigue due to the reception of Tarantino’s recent, blunter pieces of work, Reservoir Dogs stands the test of time and deserves its reputation as one of the great cinematic debuts.

It’s ironic because Reservoir Dog is unquestionably the film with Tarantino’s lowest ever budget, yet that smallness of scope never feels a problem as he is able to wring such storytelling juice out of his scenario through exploiting the medium in just about every way possible. Some of the elongated dialogue sequences with their pop cultural detours are absolute genius, not just in the insanely detailed content but also through the clever way they are filmed and gradually reveal dynamics between the various hoodlums. The opening diner scene is simply immemorial with Steve Buscemi in particular holding court magnificently while lamenting his hatred of tipping, and the late flashback scene where the guys receive their colour moniker from Joe is epically funny (again, thanks in no small part to Buscemi, stewing over his ‘Mr Pink’ alias.)

It seems passé now but Tarantino’s jumbling of his chronology, his clever changes of tone and plot context from the central, claustrophobic ‘gangsters in meltdown’ warehouse section to various character origin flashbacks, plus the ironic use of musical numbers and sudden camera pans to shift perspective; they were all sign of not only a master filmmaker but a master dramatist too. (January 2016)


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