RogerBW's Blog

Reservoir Dogs 09 April 2022

1992 crime drama, dir. Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth: IMDb / allmovie. What happens if the manager won't give you the diamonds?

It's another feature debut, but – politely – it's clearly a film made by someone who's seen a lot of other films. I confess that it rubs me wrong to start with: I was really glad when IMDb and smartphones destroyed that interminable meandering pop-culture conversation about that guy who was in that thing with that other guy, and these people who have nothing better to talk about, no life of the mind of their own, are the people we're supposed to think are cool (which acts as a substitute for having anyone actually likeable in the film). (Quite apart from their stunning ignorance: here's someone who claims to respect minimum wage workers, who doesn't even know that in many states tippable jobs get an explicit exemption to the minimum wage laws. And none of his mates knows this either.)

On the other hand, the central relationship of the film, between White the experienced crook and Orange the undercover cop playing a less experienced crook, works. That's what saves it for me, particularly at the end when White's treating Orange tenderly even though he's about to shoot him in the head.

Beyond that… well, there's a towering moment of professionalism from Keitel when a door blows open in mid-scene and he walks over and closes it without breaking character, because there wasn't the budget for multiple takes. But really I'd much rather have seen the film about Holdaway the detective-mentor.

The violence and gore were shocking at the time… but if they don't shock, as they don't shock a modern viewer (still less one who's seen much gorier things in real life), then there's nothing left. Compare a Hong Kong action film, which will have bloody shocking violence that is also beautiful.

I admit this film has been hugely influential, but it really only had the one thing to say to me.

Once more if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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Tags: film reviews

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