Movie: Reservoir Dogs
Release Date: October 9, 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen.
Tag Lines: “Seven Total Strangers Team Up For The Perfect Crime. They Don’t Know Each Other’s Name. But They’ve Got Each Other’s Color.”
“Four perfect killers. One perfect crime. Now all they have to fear is each other.”
“Let’s go to work.”
“Every dog has his day.”
“Let’s get the job done.”
Relevance: Like most everyone else in America, as soon as I saw ‘Pulp Fiction,’ a film that will be appearing in my top twenty on my list of most influential movies of all time, I quickly sought out ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ Although I kind of had an idea of what I was about to witness, I didn’t know too much about the film. But I did know that I needed more Quentin Tarantino. After watching this directorial debut, he quickly became one of my favorite filmmakers in Hollywood.
Despite Mr. Tarantino only having two and a quarter films on this list (see 215. Four Rooms for the quarter), I have loved and admired all of his feature films. His unique storytelling and dialogue always get under my skin (in the good way) and his artistry as a director is incomparable to any of his peers. ‘Reservoir Dogs’ was a small independent film that barely did any box office in America, but it got him noticed, both positively and negatively. Most critics were impressed by his non-linear storytelling as well as the cast assembled. However, the film was also quite controversial due to its explicit language and the on-screen violence it depicted. Regardless, it was a movie I needed to see.
I finally saw ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in the Spring of 1995 via rental from my local Blockbuster store. As soon as the film started, I was in love. The opening scene where a group of men were discussing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” was exactly what this mega fan needed to win me over. The dialogue was quintessential Tarantino; fast, vulgar and very funny. Like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ I was completely blown away by the rest of the raw and gritty storytelling that the film presented. I was riveted to my seat, thoroughly entertained and equally unnerved. The plot was quite simple, but thanks to Mr. Tarantino’s out of sequence style, it never lost my interest. And as much as I loved the witty banter, some of the language did make me squirm. I was not nor will I ever be a fan of the n-word. It’s cringeworthy. However it didn’t stop me from loving every second of the movie.
‘Reservoir Dogs’ remained one of my favorite films and I eventually owned it on DVD. In fact, I bought the 10th Anniversary Edition in 2002 (I have the “Mr. Brown” version) and have watched the film numerous times. My son has become a Quentin Tarantino fan and his films are ones that we definitely can agree on, although ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and Pulp Fiction’ are not his all time favorites. For me, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ was a stunning directorial debut that got the world ready for the force that was Quentin Tarantino.
Today’s Thoughts: “You said “True Blue” was about a nice girl, a sensitive girl who meets a nice guy, and that “Like a Virgin” was a metaphor for big dicks.”
I adore the first scene in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and it always makes me smile and laugh. Quentin Tarantino is such a great screenplay writer and his trademark fast-paced dialogue is always entertaining. I watched the movie alone today only because I watched it first thing in the morning. I am sure that if I waited, my son would have gladly joined in.
As much as I love this movie, it does make me really uncomfortable at times. There is of course the aforementioned n-word that always makes me nauseous when I hear it, but that torture scene in the movie is really tough to watch. Kudos to Michael Madsen and Kirk Baltz, the actors involved with that scene. As soon as “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel starts, I tense up. In fact, every time I hear that song, I get flashbacks of this scene. Every time I watch “Grace and Frankie,” which uses a cover version of the song as its theme, I skip the intro to avoid hearing it. That is effective filmmaking for sure.
‘Reservoir Dogs’ and Quentin Tarantino is probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I get that. But if you are not watching his films, you are definitely missing out on some genius filmmaking. The movie comes very highly recommended for that first scene alone. But as a film fan, watching it you can see the birth of a unique and talented writer and director come out guns ablaze. Literally.
Awards: Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Steve Buscemi (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Harvey Keitel (nomination).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.