To celebrate the release of Django Unchained, I’ve declared it Tarantino week on my blog. If all goes to plan, I’ll get to reviewing every full-length film that the director, who coincidentally shares my birthday, has released. Let’s start with his 1992 debut, Reservoir Dogs.
I’ve heard many great things about this film, that it’s Tarantino’s best, that it’s the funniest or coolest, but I have to dispute these claims. I was very eager to watch it, as it was another inclusion in the 1001 Movies book, but I came away just a little disappointed.
The film revolves around a botched diamond heist, which results in the criminal gang suspecting that there is a mole amongst them. In true Tarantino style, most of the action is delivered through speech and of course, the dialogue isn’t always relevant to the plot. The film does not occur in chronological order, and we’re supposed to work out from the speech just what everybody is supposed to be doing there. Tarantino puts a lot of pressure on the audience to understand his film, and I have to admit that I don’t enjoy this tactic.
However, I did enjoy the ensemble cast featuring, amongst others, Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel, whom film buffs will know from Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. While the plot and the dialogue could occasionally be rather impenetrable, the performances were spectacular, and a scene where a policeman gets his ear cut off was filmed with perfect tact.
I wasn’t passionate about this film, but I can see why others like it. The plot doesn’t carry sufficient meat to keep me interested, and the director’s characteristic of long conversational sections just comes off as extravagant decoration, rather than artistic style. In my mind, Tarantino was still developing as a director, and he would fully blossom in Pulp Fiction.