Reservoir Dogs – 4 stars

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\Quentin Tarantino’s debut picture has weaknesses, and it is in some ways showing its age, but many of the things that are good about it remain very good. The dialogue remains vivid, fetishizing pop-culture via tough guy patter. The conversations are irresistible, trading in on the vulgar, racist, homophobic pitch-and-catch of the red-blooded American male killer. Tarantino’s explanation of “Like a Virgin” (“It’s all about this cooze who’s a regular fuck machine, I’m talking morning, day, night, afternoon, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick”); Steve Buscemi’s theory on tipping; the back-and-forth “he’s trying to fuck me in front of my Daddy” between Chris Penn and Michael Madsen – it all crackles.

The machismo is undercut, however, when they get their aliases:

MR. PINK
Why am I Mr. Pink?

JOE
Because you’re a faggot, all right?

(Mr Brown laughs, Mr Blonde smiles)

MR. PINK
Why can’t we pick our own colors?

JOE
No way, no way. Tried it once, it doesn’t work. You get four guys all fighting over who’s gonna be Mr. Black. But they don’t know each other, so nobody wants to back down. No way, I pick. You’re Mr. Pink. Be thankful you’re not Mr. Yellow.

MR. BROWN
Yeah, but Mr. Brown, that’s a little too close to Mr. Shit.

MR. PINK
Mr. Pink sounds like Mr. Pussy. How about if i’m Mr. Purple? That sounds good to me. I’ll be Mr. Purple.

JOE
You’re not Mr. Purple. Some guy on some other job is Mr. Purple. You’re Mr. Pink.

MR. WHITE
Who cares what your name is?

MR. PINK
Yeah, that’s easy for you to say. You’re Mr. White. You have a cool sounding name. All right look, if it’s no big deal to be Mr. Pink, you wanna trade?

JOE
Hey, nobody’s trading with anybody. This ain’t a goddamn fucking city council meeting, you know. Now listen up, Mr. Pink. There’s two ways you can go on this job– my way or the highway. Now what’s it going to be, Mr. Pink?

MR. PINK
Jesus christ. Fucking forget about it. It’s beneath me. I’m Mr. Pink. Let’s move on.

The dialogue is even given its own soundtrack; Steven Wright’s droning as the “Super Sounds of the 70s” dee jay is our comic relief.

Until Gerry Rafferty’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” accompanying a torture becomes one of the scarier songs ever.

Tarantino also does so much with very little. No big action sequences. No big money.  Economical and still impressive.

Two things I didn’t like about the film. First,

You’re not to make a move till Joe Cabot shows up. I was sent in to get him. All right? Now you heard me. They said he’s on his way. Don’t pussy out on me now, Marvin. We’re just going to sit here and bleed till Joe Cabot sticks his fucking head through that door.

The idea that the cops are parked around the corner a block away waiting for mastermind Joe Cabot while two of their own are in the place as hostages (one actually dying, one being mutilated) is absurd.

Second, Tim Roth was bad. He was fighting his accent and he lost. I never bought him. Still don’t.

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