Reservoir Dogs - Mr. Orange blows his cover

It's unfair to call Reservoir Dogs Quentin's weakest film - it's always kinder to use the phrase "freshman effort." But this isn't about fairness - or the overall quality of Dogs.
Though, I will say, while the film ironically feels like one of the many post-Pulp indie ripoffs, it does introduce the most scrutinized Tarantino-esque motif in all of his movies: violence. Not that Quentin single-handedly introduced violence to cinema - or even his own self-branded style of violence - but he has perfected it. & what that style ultimately was & has become is best illustrated in his freshman effort.
The most controversially fun scene in the film depicts Michael Madsen torturing Kirk Baltz with a straight razor, while at the same time singing & dancing to Steeler's Wheel. For most people - especially people who demonize his work - this is the generic Tarantino equation by which they can draw a straight line from any vaguely-stylized hack flick to any one of his: graphic violence + ironic music choice = faux-hip. Furthermore, the aesthetic & literal angle of the scene that has been examined to no end is the horizontal tilt/pan away from the violent act -- a move most find tasteful in its intentions, but I find laughably clumsy in its execution.
 What the real Tarantino equation is - what his style really is - is to illustrate how cool movie violence is (and, yes, to deliver it with stylish eloquence). & the way he does this is with dramatic pace changes that bring everything to a halt before they become sensationalistic, while simultaneously allowing the the story to continually unfold.
As much as it turns our stomachs, we love a bit of gore mixed with pop music; but then the song sharply ends, & we realize we really don't wanna see Marvin Nash burned alive, & in watching this 'first film,' we don't know what this filmmaker is capable of or where he'll take us. & we're brought out of it with a literal bang of a plot twist that, at least for me, gave proof as to who the most badass Dog was.

- Paul


Aaron Dawson said...

Instead of showing the full Bear Jew origin, where not a single violent act takes place, he boorishly executes this same faux-hip bullshit in Basterds, opting for Hugo Stiglitz slayin' kraut played aside Billy Preston's Slaughter. As if he felt the inclination to live up to a standard he's set for himself.

It would have been one of those pace changes, while also grounding Donowitz's character. With what I'm assuming would have been a fine performance from Cloris Leachman.

Jacob Spickelmire said...
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