RESERVOIR DOGS. 1992. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY QUENTIN TARANTINO. STARRING MICHAEL MADSEN, HARVEY KEITEL, TIM ROTH, CHRIS PENN, STEVE BUSCEMI, LAWRENCE TIERNEY AND QUENTIN TARANTINO. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This super-cool film is a classic of independent movie-making and a humongous cult hit into the bargain. It’s also the debut feature film of director Quentin Tarantino, who has a small role in it as Mr. Brown, which is ‘just a little bit too close to Mr. Shit,’ if you take my meaning. I like this movie better than Tarantino’s more famous second film, ‘PULP FICTION,’ that’s how good it is.
It has all the hallmarks of a Tarantino film. That is to say, language so filthy it would embarrass a docker, extreme ultra-violence to the m*****f**king max, and so-called non-linear storytelling. In other words, the story is told arse-ways, which in all honesty I could do without, but when you get used to it, it’s not so bad. I still prefer a story to start at the beginning and finish at the end, though. I always get annoyed when a film starts at the flippin’ end. I can’t help it. I’m a bit OCD like that, haha.
RESERVOIR DOGS is the tale of a diamond heist that goes horribly wrong. It’s such a cock-up, in fact, that if there were an award given for The Biggest Cock-Up Ever Made Of A Diamond Heist, this heist would most assuredly take the prize.
Organised by a mobster called Joe Cabot and his leisure-suited son, ‘Nice Guy’ Eddie, the job is supposedly to get in, grab the ‘ice,’ get out, two minutes tops. Oh, and if anyone gives you shit, hit ’em on the nose with the butt of your gun or, if that doesn’t work, start chopping off fingers. Ain’t no-one gonna give you shit after that. Guaranteed. That stuff is all on page one of The Mobsters’ Guide To Making Friends And Influencing People. You might be able to find an old copy online somewhere…
Anyway, things don’t don’t quite work out as planned, as I may have already heavily hinted. The whole job ends up in a chaotic maelstrom of bullets flying every which way, hitting cops, robbers and civilians alike. Then starts the finger-pointing and the laying of blame at various doors. Who f***ed up or, more to the point, who snitched to the cops and tipped ’em off that some shit was going down? Could there be a rat in the house? Maybe. And he ain’t got no m*****f***ing whiskers, either…
The thieves are all identified only by colours. Harvey THE PIANO Keitel is Mr. White, Michael FREE WILLY Madsen is Mr. Blonde, Tim Roth is Mr. Orange and Steve Buscemi is Mr. Pink. Check out the hilarious speech the Big Boss makes to explain why Steve Buscemi is stuck with the name of Mr. Pink and why he can’t be ‘Mr. Poyple,’ and the reasoning he uses to show the men why none of them are allowed the cool moniker of ‘Mr. Black.’ It’s the funniest part of the film.
The soundtrack of ‘Seventies music is absolutely superb. I’ve had the album since the ‘Noughties and every single song on it, from Little Green Bag (George Baker Selection) to Stuck In The Middle With You (Stealers’ Wheel) all the way through to Harry Nilsson’s Coconut is just a stone-cold classic.
Everyone knows that Stuck In The Middle With You is playing while the supposedly psychotic Mr. Blonde is ‘torturing the cop.’ Have you seen Itchy And Scratchy’s hilarious parody of this iconic scene in THE SIMPSONS? It’s… Well, I just said it. It’s hilarious…!
Other memorable scenes include Tim Roth’s memorising of a phoney anecdote, the Cabots- father and son both- welcoming Mr. Blonde back from a stint in the can (By the way, did you know that Parole Officer Scagnetti is an a**h***? Well, he is. That comes across really clearly in this scene!) and Mr. White, that all-round tough guy, ministering as tenderly to Mr. Orange as any nurse in the back of the car after the heist. Oh, and Mr. Pink, he don’t tip. Remember that if you’re ever out for a bite to eat with the tight-fisted sumbitch. ‘Who didn’t put in a buck…?’
It’s such a top-notch cast, you couldn’t really find any fault with it. The one thing that irks me about the film is Mr. Shit’s, sorry, Mr. Brown’s ridiculously pretentious speech in which he gives us his interpretation of Madonna’s song, Like A Virgin. That is to say, he tells his buddies what he thinks the song is about. Yes, there’s plenty of ‘dick’ about for sure, and the biggest one of all is the foul-mouthed Mr. Brown. Thinks he knows about women, does he? Yeah, right. He knows as much about women as I do about… well, about something I don’t know very much about. If you follow me. That über-sexist Mr. Brown…! He really grinds my gears.
The cool-as-a-cucumber Mr. Blonde is my favourite character, but I love Harvey Keitel too. Whenever I see him in anything now, not just this, I always think of him ‘running around in the nip’ in Jane Campion’s gorgeous film THE PIANO. ‘Running around in the nip’ is a quote from Graham Norton, by the way, when he’s playing Father Noel Furlong in the episode of Irish sitcom FATHER TED where they get trapped in the caves. ‘They’re so dark, they’re almost like being blind…!’
The lads in their snazzy black suits-and-sunglasses ensembles are super-cool. So is the music and their walking-in-formation thing that they do. So is the film overall. I don’t know what else I can say about it, really, except maybe:
‘Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite…?’
Wondering why I’d say such an odd thing to finish with? Watch the film…