Reservoir Dogs 1992 Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Reservoir Dogs is a gangster crime thriller directed, written (alongside two other writers) and starring Quentin Tarantino as one of the lesser gang members. The film was what made Tarantino a successful filmmaker, showing off his own unique take on a familiar premise. Stylish yet gritty, funny yet dark and tense, Reservoir Dogs stands out from the crowd of Crime thriller movies. The film is essentially about a gang heist gone wrong, and tells its story mainly through use of flashbacks. This takes a little time to get used to, as it is not a conventional way of moving the plot along. However this method keeps the viewer engaged with what is going on, as each flashback, which focuses on introducing the audience to each gang member and what led each to the centre of the story, offers a fresh new character, location and story each time, so it keeps the film from feeling like it is an ongoing train ride. The film takes place primarily within one single room; a warehouse in which the men are hiding out in, meanwhile cutting back to before the heist took place, to set up the characters motivations. The very first scene however, is set around a table in a breakfast cafe. The scene sets up the characters, particularly focusing on Mr Pink (played by Steve Buscemi) and Joe Cabot (played by Lawrence Tierney). Joe Cabot is set up as the leader, and Mr Pink is set up as a character

Figure 2: The Warehouse Location

who is shown initially to be a bit stuck up when he gets into a debate with the fellow criminals over why he doesn’t tip waitresses. They often make jokes about shooting him. This whole scene is full of tension, though the conversations between the characters is relatively light hearted. But because of their nature, it is unclear what will happen next. The films use of camera shots at times is similar to the likes of films such as Hitchcock’s Rope and Ridley Scott’s Alien. The camera often rests on a shot, to allow the characters to interact with one another and breathe within the set. No only this but it gives the feeling of the audience being a spectator within the room, which is successful in creating more tension, particularly in scenes in which two gang members are arguing with each other. The black and white suits are a strong contrast against the bright red blood which is present at all times. This looks to be a deliberate decision. The blood is clearly fake, and so is more likely to be done for style rather than in an attempt to make the audience believe that it is real. There is one particular scene which does not quite match the tone of the rest of the movie; rather it becomes a scene that could belong in a film such as Scorsese’s Goodfellas. In fact the film has been compared to this film as well, as journalist Derek Malcom explains “[it is] an extraordinarily impressive debut, already compared with Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets but more accurately paralleled by his later Goodfellas” (Malcom, 1993). The character, Mr Blonde (played by Michael Madsen), shown throughout to be a level headed and sophisticated guy, proceeds to torture a police officer for no reason o ther than his own pleasure. All the while, playing the pop song ‘Stuck in the middle with you’. “It’s as if the film’s mundane, discursive elements have just invaded the narrative in a

Figure 3: The torture scene horrifying way—a ploy that quickly became Tarantino’s signature.” (D’Angelo, 2012) Though it may be Tarentino’s signature move in his films, the scene seems too sadistic compared to the rest of the film; the viewer is shown the cop’s face, now without an ear, which is a very realistic and gruesome wound. In a film that includes stylized blood, this graphic scene could have been made to fit the tone of the movie. Generally the movie keeps the same contemporary, stylized and gritty tone. Recent films such as Saw seem to have been influenced by Reservoir Dogs, proving that the film is as unique and influential now as it was more than 20 years ago.

Sources: Malcom, D 1993 (accessed 15/02/13) D’Angelo, M 2012 (accessed 15/02/13),67998/ Figure 1: EASvt0Us9Jc/s1600/reservoir_dogs_art_01.jpg Figure 3: