Tag Archives: Harvey Keitel

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

“Reservoir Dogs,” Quentin Tarantino’s second film after the little known low-budgeter “My Best Friend’s Birthday,” is a good and polished early effort from a brilliant and controversial filmmaker.

A lot of Tarantino’s trademarks are present here: extreme violence, black humor, brilliant dialogue, and an unflinching portrayal of racism, but a little more emotion is present than with Tarantino’s other works, including a rather touching relationship between two of the main characters, Mr. White and Mr. Orange.

The color-coordinated characters, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker), and Mr. Brown (Director Tarantino) are a group of criminals cornered by the police during a diamond heist.
After a bloody shootout, a group of them escape, including Mr. Orange (Roth), who is badly injured in the getaway. Stationed at a hiding spot, the remaining thieves suspect that someone among them may be a police informer. And with volatile Blonde in their midst, the situation has nowhere to go but down.

As per usual with Tarantino, the dialogue is clever and quirky, rife with the idiosyncrasies and oddities of daily life. I didn’t find the dialogue as funny this time round as “Pulp Fiction,” which was ultimately a more engaging work. The acting here is very good, with Chris Penn as “Nice-Guy” Eddie being a weak-point in an otherwise strong cast.

Tim Roth is a stand-out as reluctant newbie Orange, while Michael Madsen as Blonde makes a very convincing psycho. Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi give steady support as White and Pink, respectively. The violence is occasionally shocking and provoked walk-outs during “Reservoir Dogs'” stint at the film festival circuit, but may have become less so with time.

Overall, “Reservoir Dogs” embodies what we have come to expect from Tarantino — shocks, thrills, and graphic violence — like an invigorating roller-coaster ride, but with a little extra heart. We care about the relationship between White and Orange, and the following events saddens us. But most of all, it is spectacular Tarantino entertainment. Who could ask for anything more?

Pulp Fiction (1994)

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First off, I’m an unabashed fan of Tarantino. I’ve liked pretty much all his stuff, from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Django Unchained” to even his segment in “Four Rooms” ( which no one likes.) I think the guy’s brilliant. So it should come as no surprise to you that I consider “Pulp Fiction” a masterpiece of dialogue and plot.

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“Pulp Fiction” tells the interconnected stories of two chatty hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) who may or may not be on a collision course with fate, an aging boxer (Bruce Willis) who is paid to throw his last fight, and two cheap criminals (Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth, two of my favorite actors) who set out to rob a cafe.Nothing turns out the way it was planned in this ferociously violent, witty, and genre-defying masterwork.

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Don’t go into this movie looking for touchy-feely romance or particularly sympathetic characters, because you’ll get none of that. But as my dad likes to say, “It’s not the violence, it’s the dialogue.” The conversations between various eccentrics is rich in it’s insistent oddness.  I tend to be a little bit emotional, so certain scenes in this got to me (strangely, the rape scene wasn’t among them.)

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One was the scene in which Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) corners the kid, Brett (Frank Whaley) who made off with Jules’ boss Marcellus (VIng Rhames)’s briefcase. The whole sequence was very funny in a way (what ain’t no country I ever heard of!) and my family was laughing throughout, but I dunno. I guess I felt a little sorry for ol’ Brett. It takes a lot of nerve to take a man’s burger and his life the same day.

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The second scene was where Butch (Bruce Willis), the boxer, goes off at his girlfriend Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) for leaving behind a family heirloom. I get it, the girl screwed up, but it seemed so much like something I would do that I felt sorry for her. Uma Thurman also figures into this movie as Marcellus’ girlfriend, Mia, and I had so much of a girl crush on her in this movie

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. I think “Reservoir Dogs” nearly stands up to this in terms of quality, especially since “Reservor Dogs” had a certain emotional quality that “Pulp Fiction” couldn’t copy (“…Fiction” is, like most of Tarantino’s work, cold as ice.) But “Pulp Fiction” has a certain muchness “Reservoir Dogs” can’t beat. The dialogue crackles,  the non-linear timeline is well-conceived, and the cast does a great job as well.

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Everybody who isn’t squeamish about violence should watch this movie to see one of the most influential films of the early 90’s. It’s unique, intense, and in it’s own way, weirdly hilarious. I’ve seen most of Tarantino’s films (sans “Jackie Brown,” “Kill Bill Volume 2,” and “My Best Friend’s Birthday,”) and this is my favorite so far. Modern cinema at it’s most memorable!