Reservoir Dogs – 4 stars

Reservoir Dogs. 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 is both grotesque and snappy. The conversations are irresistible. Reservoir Dogs was the first film to trade in on the vulgar, racist, homophobic pitch-and-catch of the red-blooded American male killer. Tarantino’s explanation of “Like a Virgin”; 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 is less inventive now, but at the time, it was refreshing. It still crackles.

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.

It’s a very clever movie. Steven Wright’s drone as the Super Sounds of the 70s dee jay does not get old, and Tarantino uses the tunes as comic relief, until Gerry Rafferty’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” becomes one of the scarier songs ever.

Last, Tarantino does so much with very little. No big action sequences. No big money.

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

MR. ORANGE

Fuck you! Fuck you! I’m fucking dying here! I’m fucking dying! 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 Joe 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 looked Leo DiCaprio young. I never bought him. Still don’t.

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