Quentin Tarantino is a name that will be known as someone who gave us good stories, wacky and memorable characters, and witty dialogue that will have us quoting his films for years. It all started with his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, a film about a group of men,who are strangers to one another, but get together for a diamond heist. Everything seems to go as planned that is until the police are waiting for them after the robbery unfolds. A rat is among the group; someone isn’t who they say he is, but who could it be?
The film is about a robbery, but doesn’t show the robbery itself. We see beforehand, the immediate moments after the robbery, and the moment thereafter. It’s clever that the characters talk about what happened instead of showing us, even though it’s often better to see something firsthand instead of hearing it described through exposition; but for this film, it works immensely. Tarantino writes, directs, and even makes an appearance as one of the mysterious men. He’s also the first person to talk in the film as the men sit down to have breakfast together at a restaurant. Tarantino’s first film introduced us to what we know him to be. His films are dialogue driven with interesting characters and displays a flair for filmmaking that is his own style.
The cast in Reservoir Dogs makes the film even better. The script is very well written and includes moments of dialogue that I myself would not expect to see in a film. Take for instance the opening scene when Mr. Brown (Tarantino) is talking about a Madonna song. He goes on to describe what he thinks the song is about and it’s quite cool. We have these characters who all sit down for breakfast and engage in conversation about daily life. There’s even a moment when one character doesn’t believe in tipping the waitress and to hear his explanation is something that you will remember.
The “professionals” are Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant), Tim Roth (Vincent and Theo), Michael Madsen (Thelma and Louise), Steve Buscemi (Miller’s Crossing), and both the late Chris Penn (True Romance) and Lawrence Tierney (City of Hope). Each actor shines in their respective performances, but for me, I love watching Madsen on the screen. He seems to have a look in his eye that just draws the audience to his character. In fact, if you pay close attention, his real name is Vic Vega, which is the brother of Vincent Vega from Tarantino’s second film Pulp Fiction (played by John Travolta). His scene is one of the most iconic being that he plays a classic 1970s era song while torturing a captured police officer. Madsen hates violence and found the scene difficult to shoot especially when the officer pleads for his life saying that he’s a father. Madsen had just become a father during filming which made the scene even more difficult.
Steve Buscemi is another actor who delivers a damn good performance. He’s terrified of what’s happened and nervous on whether the cops show up or if one of the men is the rat who set them up. He’s paranoid, neurotic and pissed off all at the same time. Every actor does a great job and considering the low budget of the film, but the film doesn’t look cheap in any sense. If you think about it, Reservoir Dogs could play out on a stage, and it would be quite a show.
Tarantino’s script is clever, witty, violent and funny. Something that he seems to blend so well in all his films. With the low budget, the robbery scene was never filmed but it was never intended to be in the first place. Additionally, the suits that the characters wear are the actors’ own because there wasn’t enough money in the budget for the wardrobes. The film has no musical score and only features songs from the 1970s and features a DJ on the radio when announcing the songs. The voice of the DJ was provided by Stand-Up Comedian Steven Wright.
It was just recently that I’ve seen every film from Tarantino and I can say that I’ve never been disappointed. He’s a director that you never know what he’s going to come up with and he always has something up his sleeve. So, return to the film that he made first, the story of men who thought a job was simple until someone screwed it all up. There are quotes in this film that you won’t forget, characters that you will either hate or enjoy — plus, who can deny that peppy soundtrack? One last thing to mention, Madonna herself enjoyed the film but refuted his character’s interpretation of her song “Like a Virgin”. She would later send him a copy of her “Erotica” album signed “To Quentin. It’s not about dick its about love. Madonna.
Now, that’s memorable!