Reservoir Dogs (Redux)
Rating: 18/20 (Dylan: 14/20)
Plot: My son is going to college soon, and his pool of pop culture knowledge is despicably shallow. I'd be remiss as a father if I didn't attempt to do something about it. When I thought about how he might be sitting in a dorm room some day and have to hear "What? You've never seen Pulp Fiction?", it made me sad. He didn't want to watch Reservoir Dogs until I tricked him into it by telling him there would be talking dogs.
Dylan's thoughts: It was pretty good.
Me: Is that all you want to say? That's pretty lame.
Dylan: It's good enough.
I already have this movie on the blog right here. The rating hasn't changed. I have nothing intelligent to add and more than likely had nothing intelligent to say in the first place. This and Pulp Fiction--the next Tarantino movie I'm making Dylan watch, tricking him this time by convincing him that it's a documentary about orange juice--are endlessly rewatchable. This one is a much simpler story about honorable criminals paying for their crimes, and although the structure is different from its cousins, it's not got the thematic complexity or variety of Tarantino's second movie. It still manages to seem so fresh though. In fact, the director's flair almost stands out more. This time through, I really focused on the relationship between Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel's characters. There's a lingering attention to these two and their emotions. It's not just the dialogue but how much weight is given to the situation which makes what ultimately happens to them pretty moving. These are movie criminals, barely more than cartoons, but they've got flesh, and when they bleed, they seem to bleed in ways that matter. The way all the characters come to life is amazing, a combination of quality acting, writing, and story organization. There's not a bad acting apple in the bunch unless you're as annoyed by Tarantino's skills as much as I used to be. But it's not like he's around all that long. Roth's pain is especially cartoonish, and he always sounds like Bobcat Goldthwaite to me. And his practice sessions telling that story about the drug-sniffing dog don't seem all that natural. However, everything that somebody could say is wrong about his performance in Reservoir Dogs should be forgotten with his expression after he shoots that woman. That's so perfect. Keitel oozes cool, compulsive hair combing and all. The way he reassures Roth's character--"I didn't know you were a doctor!"--makes me laugh. Buscemi's Mr. Pink is classically greasy, and it's one of those characters that you just can't imagine another person being able to pull off. His activities during the Mexican stand-off also make me laugh. And his running after the failed heist when he knocks over a guy on the sidewalk produces the greatest use of the Wilhelm Scream that I have ever heard. In fact, I'll go ahead and say that it's the greatest use that I'll ever hear because I don't think it can be topped. I think I could listen to Buscemi and Tierney's argument about the Mr. Pink name every day and not get tired of it. Madsen's Vic Vega is a character that doesn't make much sense at all and probably couldn't survive outside of a Tarantino movie. The ear scene is always a little hard to watch for me, but you have to love a character who stops for a soft drink after a heist-gone-wrong. "Are you going to bark all day, little doggy, or are you going to bite?" is a great line, but how about your last words being a quote from The Wizard of Oz? That just seems like an impossible way for a violent criminal to go.
Ok, I'm going to digress. If you were about to die, which quote from The Wizard of Oz would you want to be your last words? I know what I wouldn't want it to be--"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" Maybe "What puts the 'ape' in apricot?" would be a good one just because it would be "Rosebud"-y enough to make people wonder what the hell I was talking about. How about "I can barely hear my heart beating"?
I also like Madsen's little dance. The aforementioned Tierney is great, too, such a cool old man. Two more things I really like about this movie: 1) The way Stephen Wright pronounces the word "behemoth" and 2) that message to Tony above a doorway--"Watch your head."