Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs ★★★★★

It's been a long time since I've seen this game-changing independent classic, and man, what a treat it was--again.

The structure of this film is absolutely beautiful. I love when filmmakers and writers bend, twist, and/or reinvent traditional narrative. It's not the flashbacks in RESERVOIR DOGS that make this narrative so sweet--they're well placed and effective; it's productive messing around with the set up, exposition disclosure, rising action, and climax.

After a fresh and beautifully written table-talk scene to open the film, Tarantino jumps directly into the post-robbery which feels a bit like any other film's final act. But despite the feel of rising action around the Dogs' bloody flight to their 'meeting place', Tarantino heartily sets up what is actually a strong character-driven piece. Where the diner scene paints a scene of men interacting with men at work, the bloody car ride sets up an actually sweet portrait of how men love their family. Look carefully at Keitel's performance. He's a dad loving a son. He even sort of sings to Roth to comfort him. He puts his hand on his shoulder as they flee the robbery together. This out-of-place story of connection and paternal love is a shockingly beautiful core to this wonderful film.

Meanwhile, around this sturdy emotional centre, there is an enthusiastically written, brilliantly casted, and memorably portrayed set of characters. Chris Penn, Harvey Keitel, and Steve Buscemi hit fantastic high notes in their moments of peaking stress as they attempt to evade custody, unpack the details of their betrayal, and figure out what their next step is. Tarantino's script at once captures naturalistic dialog of real people and also characters who speak as if they're from another literary planet.

And then there's the subtle brilliance of making the most, cinematically, of his limited surrounding. The empty warehouse is boring enough in its own right, except that Tarantino blocks his scenes so captivatingly--Keitel embracing Roth, the whole dance sequence, the triangularly blocked shootout. And then there's the whole mystery of the caskets and the hearse. I'm sure there are Reddit discussions on their potential symbolism and interpretation, but their present creates and eeriness and subtle foreshadowing of the pending death (of both characters and of trust).

I could go on and on about DOGS. It's just that interesting, smart, and surprisingly deep a film. And with the heartbreaking father-son relationship (although it's mostly Keitel's Mr White whom the relationship means something to) at its core, I honestly wonder how much of this speaks to Tarantino's relationship with his own dad. Apparently, Tarantino never new his dad and doesn't seem to have much interest in him. In Tarantino's awesome imagination, is Mr White actually a characterization of his own dad who ends up loving a 'son' figure in adulthood only to learn that that son doesn't care for him at all. Who knows? But it's an example of the DOGS script's surprising depth--you know for a film that begins with dialog about 'big dicks' and 'Madonna lyrics'.

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