Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The urgency and immediacy of Quentin Tarantino's debut feature is as outstanding fifteen years after its release as it was in 1992. And it becomes more and more evident how revolutionary the film was for more than one genre in American filmmaking, but most notably for the crime and action genre. Tarantino strips down every convention and presents a structurally refreshing, narratively ambitious piece that looks, feels and smells like a free-standing, liberated work of art.
The inspiration comes from seventies crime movies, but there is nothing in Reservoir Dogs reminiscent of the more embroidered form of tribute Tarantino has paid more recently. Reservoir Dogs has its heart in the 70s, and shows its clear distance to the conventionalism and lack of realism that typified 80s action, but as an artistic expression, the film is all innovation. Tarantino combines a clever, well-tangled story with a completely unbiased and rather deep look into human psyche. He manages to create energizingly authentic characters, even if their coolness is first priority and he keeps balancing them all on the edge between hero and villain. In remarkable fashion, Tarantino discusses the borderlines and nuances between good and bad that arise from most any situation in life - and he does it all while conducting an absorbing and atmospheric crime story.
Even if Tarantino didn't gain unanimous
praise until he made Pulp
Fiction two years later, it was with Reservoir Dogs
he created the stylistic universe that has come to be his signature. And
it has never been more impetuous than here, running through the entire
production, in compositions, thematics and narrative. There is a
boldness and timelessness to this film that can only stem from an
ingenious, visionary filmmaker in his dawn. Going from a fifteen-minute
completely inspirational conversation about nothing to filming
neo-poetic realism is a hallmark for this. And the casting is sheer
genius as well, combining old and new talent and replacing the lead
character and star player with a small ensemble of character actors.
They are all good, but Harvey Keitel easily stands out. Reservoir
Dogs was a renaissance for him and a conception for the greatest
filmmaker of our time.