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In 1992, Reservoir Dogs transformed Quentin Tarantino practically overnight from an obscure, unproduced screenwriter and part-time actor to the most influential new filmmaker of the 1990s. The story looks at what happens before and after (but not during) a botched jewelry store robbery organized by Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney). Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) is a career criminal who takes a liking to newcomer Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) and enjoys showing him the ropes. Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) is a weaselly loner obsessed with ...


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Dec 7, 2020

Reservoir Dogs

This 1992 film was the first written and directed by Quentin Tarrantino who also appears in the film as Mr. Brown. Over the years, I have seen most of Tarrantino's films but this was the first time I have seen "Reservoir Dogs" in this 2019 stream version on Amazon Prime. I had heard about the film through watching 1940s film noir and of course through seeing other Tarrantino movies.

The film tells an over-the-top story of the heist of a Los Angeles diamond store. Five thugs are recruited for the job by mastermind Joe Cabot (Gene Tierney) and the heist is carefully planned. The trouble is that one of the thugs is an undercover cop. The heist goes awry with much senseless killing.

The film is told in a non-linear manner from the perspective of each hoodlum so that the viewer gradually gets a complete picture of what transpires. Most of the film is shot in the cavernous warehouse where the gang is to meet up after the heist. There are also scenes of the failed heist and a long opening scene with the gang gathered together in a coffee shop before the robbery begins. There are many scenes of Los Angeles.

The film has a feel of bravura and creativity. The acting is sharp and the dialogue colloquial and profane. There is a sense of spontaneity and abandon enhanced by the reference to popular culture, music film, and language.

The film is also wildly violent in its action and in its language. It is known for a torture scene at about mid-point which many viewers have found nearly unbearable. For the most part, the movie seemed to me so self-absorbed that it lacked most of the grit of a classic crime movie. I enjoyed the movie but felt disengaged. It is easy to have questions about the casual level of extreme violence and killing in this film and in many of Tarrantino's later films.

"Reservoir Dogs" has become a cult film and many viewers and critics rate it highly indeed. I admire the hubris and the style of this movie and its ability to provoke. I saw it as much more of a black comedy than a crime film. For me, the film was a guilty pleasure, but more.

Robin Friedman

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