Fade In: Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs

Siskoid Cinema presents... Fade In, the show that looks at famous actors and directors' first feature film, looking for that spark of future stardom. This episode, Quentin Tarantino's career fades in with Reservoir Dogs. Did one of the directors who epitomized 90s cinema arrive fully formed? Siskoid and FW Records' Ryan Daly discuss!

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Bonus clips: "Reservoir Dogs" by Quentin Tarantino, starring Lawrence Tierney, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn; and "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel.

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6 responses to “Fade In: Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs

  1. At some point, because of the douche bros, I decided that I couldn’t allow Pulp Fiction to be my favorite movie, but it remains in close competition and at minimum a top 5 pick. I find it endlessly watchable and entertaining. I reached back to Reservoir Dogs as a rental, and was well pleased that it was of similar quality in its time. I think it’s aged more poorly though, and after watching all the special features on the Anchor Bay edition Siskoid referenced, I found it overly stagey and comparatively clumsy. I think it was at least in part overexposure to the materials in a short span of time, and would probably be more forgiving today. I have to confess that, like his clear acolyte Guy Ritchie (with a similar trajectory from Snatch back to Lock, Stock…,) I kind of resent Quentin Tarantino deciding to be a more ambitious filmmaker. Imagine if he had gotten less acclaim and had to crank out a flick in the same vein as his first two every other year? All those exceptional, dialogue and reference heavy “elevated exploitation” films in every damned genre. But no, he’s an auteur, so we get the likable but overrated Elmore Leonard adaptation instead (Out of Sight was better, SNS.) The only other Tarantino film that I love and admire is Django Unchained, I like a few others that I like to varying degrees, and a bunch that I never want to see again (especially the past two.) I so strongly associate my embrace of his first two flicks with the musical selections, and there’s apparently some contention about how much of it he even chooses for himself. I dunno. I enjoyed his podcast, I appreciate his knowledge and thought process, he’s made a few of my favorite movies, and I still think he’s one of cinema’s most interesting living talents. But also he’s kind of a creep and he’s loved the “n” word way too much for way too long. What’cha gonna do? All I know is if The Critic maintains his latter day average, I would rather he start looking elsewhere for his artistic outlet.

  2. I am a Tarantino fan for all the reasons you both said – film buff, comic nerd, ‘one of us’.

    While Pulp Fiction was the first movie of his I saw, I still think Reservoir Dogs is the purest QT film and therefore my favorite. That is followed by Inglorious Basterds and Jackie Brown. But each one is worth viewing although I don’t think I revisit Hateful Eight anywhere near as often.

    For me, the QT trope that is most prevalent and most copied is the ‘every day pop culture conversations’ that enter into scripts. Madonna talk, Royale with Cheese talk, etc.

    Lastly, I heard QT talk about filming (or planning on filming) the Mr. Blonde torture scene 2 ways – one right on showing him ‘saw off’ the ear and then the ‘pull away and only hear the noises’.

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/6YTf5BFi8Ug

    Great conversation from great hosts talking about a great movie!

  3. While I haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, I remember first seeing Pulp Fiction in theaters, when I was in college, and it made a big impression on me. It is one of the few movies that I’ve seen multiple times on the big screen. More importantly, it was one of the first (if not the first) movie that caused me to think critically about the story I was watching. Of course, that could just have been due to the fact that I was a pretentious young student playing at being an intellectual.

    The only other Tarantino films I’ve seen are Kill Bill: Volume I (I still need to watch Volume II) and Django Unchained, both of which I enjoyed, even though the violence is sometimes a bit much for my taste. With his relatively short filmography, I really need to make an effort to check out the rest of his work.

    Thanks for another remarkable episode.

  4. Nicely done. Love this movie so much, after a friend and I went to see it on a lark in the theaters when we were only 17 years old. Yes, it’s aged poorly to some extent, but there’s still a lot of style, thrilling violence, and thought-provoking dialogue.

    Trivia fact for comics geeks: Kirk Baltz, who plays Officer Marvin Nash (he of the severed ear), later appeared in an episode of the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, as the very first person to ever portray Clayface in live action.

  5. This was a great episode. A film I’ve already seen a ton of times, and yet you guys were able to talk about things I hadn’t noticed or thought of which has me thinking a rewatch is in order.

    This movie was everything for me a when I was 15 or 16. Reservoir Dogs and Miller’s Crossing were two films I stumbled on during a late night cable TV binge that just had my jaw drop. I was also lucky enough to be the first one in my clique to see these films and getting to introduce it to all my friends adds to why this one is pretty special for me.

    It was also my first QT film. And it definitely has that quintessential Tarantino feel. He and Kevin Smith had this way of writing dialogue that was totally unnatural in day-to-day life but also very engaging and oddly quotable. On Long Island, in the early 90s, you either quoted Goodfellas, Clerks or Pulp Fiction.

    There’s also humor here in Reservoir Dogs, and I don’tthink QT gets a ton of credit for being able to write a funny scene. Usually, whats considered “funny” in a QT film is violence punctuated with a pop song or a white guy saying the N word a dozen times (when the real joke of that scene should have been these hardened killers afraid of a guys wife coming home, but I digress….)

    Anyway, back to RD: I still laugh when Joe admonished the gang for joking around while planning the caper.

    Lastly, while movies about “bad guys” had existed before, I definitely feel like it exploded in the 90s, and QT has to be an early pioneer of that trend. I’ve often wandered if, when writing a movie like this, that there is freedom in these kind of characters. You can say anything you want if it’s coming out of the mouth of a criminal, and you can do anything you want to them. These are the bad guys. They can get killed, mained, they can lose, they don’t need redemption or be likeable, they can have a karmic comeuppance, etc all because your audience aren’t going to be as emotionally invested as they are when you write a “hero”, and I wonder if that’s why QT gravitate towards those kind of stories.

    It’s a fine line though, between making a movie about terrible people, and glorifying terrible people that tend to attract terrible fandoms. I think QT has avoided that so far in his career, and it all comes back to this movie, where, it seems, he kills them all off.

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