Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reservoir Dogs

One could expect a lot of that opening shot in the dinner. A bunch of guys sitting around a table, debating around Madonna's “Like a Virgin”, and an incredible camera work that spins around each character, even sliding behind their back to shift the attention to each other, in a way reminiscent of Hitchcock's use of the the technique in Rope when he would run out of film. The scene takes its time to unfold as we start to notice some of the characteristic of each actor. We also get a look at the incredible cast used in the film. It is not often that you get the feeling  that every actor actually fits their characters. They do not push the characters unto themselves they simply happen to be their character. They leave “emerging from the restaurant like the Wild Bunch” (McCarthy:1991), the intensity of that shot serving as an establishing shot for the rest of the film, as it is one of the last times you get to see the whole crew together. Their will be more shots later on, but the rest of the film is mainly cut in different sections that explain the personal story of each character.

What comes next might seem at first as a big mumbo jumbo of stories, linked only by the failed robbery, yet it is cleverly structured and implemented into the flow of the sequence. The sudden change in flow and rhythm occurs when we are suddenly sent into a bloodied car interior, young Mr. Orange, superbly played by Tim Roth, is panicking, his stomach pierced by a bullet. This extremely strong visual sets the tone for the rest of the film, the immaculate white of the car a perfect canvas for what might have influenced quit a few other artists. We understand that everything has gone wrong. The car is driven by a nervous and edgy Mr. White, played by Harvey Keitel. He tries to calm down the shocked Orange, who keeps shouting that he is going to die. We then arrive in the main set of the film, a warehouse. This warehouse could not be any simpler and yet is masterfully used as every bit of its space is used as space for the composition’s of the shots, it's highly geometric structure giving rise to some very interesting shots. Orange is laid down on a slight slope of triangle, giving his blood free rein over its descent towards the future puddle it is going to create.

They are soon joined by Mr. Pink, acted by Steve Buscemi. He is also highly nervous, and is convinced that the police had been tipped off by one of them. His self-induced professionalism completely cuts him out of the traitor position or so he says, constantly saying that it could not be him but that it was someone, adding to the edginess of the whole situation as White starts to loose control. The enters to recently out of jail psycho, Mr. Blonde, calmly played by Michael Madsen. He brings with him a young police officer, whom I found excessively boastful seeing the situation he was in. In a torture see of anthology the “young officer is brutally tortured,” by Mr. Blonde, “in a scene that drove numerous fest viewers from the unspooling here, and may make even the brave look away. The worst is left off-camera,” (McCarthy:1991), as most of it is implied though we still get to see the pugnacious wound of his ear later on. Some extraordinary camera work punctuates the performance as it glides effortlessly around the set, cutting when needed, giving it an edgy feel simply based on the camera and the quick editing present.

The warehouse, by its nature creates a very theatrical set. The few amazing shots when they are all pointing at each other with a gun is now a classic. The set is well designed, and as more actors enter the fray, it seems only to expand despite the increase in mass inside it. The well oiled machine of a script that Tarantino has created is full of energy and as WH from Time Out London concludes:

Despite the clockwork theatrical dynamics - most of the action is restricted to the warehouse - the film packs a massive punch.”(Time Out London)


 -Time Out London -

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