Release Date: 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Why I picked this: Quentin Tarantino
This is Quentin Tarantino’s feature debut, and what a debut it is. Despite this being his first, this was the last of Tarantino’s filmography I watched. I saw all of the classic Tarantino elements being put into place, from his long, drawn-out, yet revealing and entertaining stretches of dialogue, to his long takes, use of violence, pop culture references, and his non-linear storytelling. All of these elements are strong in “Reservoir Dogs,” a heist movie that never shows the actual heist. Instead, this movie focuses on the before and after, the build up to the heist, and the aftermath of the heist, which went very wrong. The “after” portions of the movie mostly takes place in a single location, a warehouse that functions as the base for the strangers brought together to perpetrate the heist. Feelings of intense paranoia dominate the characters. Even before the backstories of the characters are shown, we learn so much from their antics. Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink is weasel-like, Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White is professional and well-composed, and Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde is just plain insane. But Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange turns in the best performance. It’s something that is better to be watched than described. The aftermath of the heist is given more meaning and depth from learning the characters’ backstories. The character motivations and interactions make much more sense, and their dialogue carries more weight. Like every Tarantino film, there are long, well written passages of dialogue, and much, much violence. But it never feels that Tarantino is showing off, and the violence is never gratuitous.
It’s a satisfying and intriguing ride throughout, and a great start to a still wonderful career of one of my favorite filmmakers.