Reservoir Dogs - In the Pink
| Mr. White. Mr. Orange. Mr. Blonde. Mr. Pink… especially Mr. Pink. These are the characters that started it all for Tarantino.
Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino’s directorial debut, set the mold for every Tarantino film to come. He hasn’t strayed from this formula, although he has certainly grown in this matrix, and everything you need to know about the director can be found here. All these years later it holds up and remains, in many ways, his best film.
Reservoir Dogs is much tighter film that his follow ups. This was before he could decide that instead of editing his films, he would just cut them in half and release it as two. This was before he would allow himself to stray off the plot so dramatically that it just didn’t matter what the plot was about. Reservoir Dogs is a brief glimpse into the lives of a few characters that doesn’t get off track or wallows in its own misery.
Reservoir Dogs sets up his style. There are wonderfully rich characters, each with a fully realized back story that is communicated well to the audience. They speak in rapid, clever, entertaining dialogue that explores who they are and the world they live in. They come with wonderfully eccentric quirks that make them more than just memorable but almost alive in their cartoony way. And they are desperately narcissistic. Welcome to every Tarantino movie since. Characters are what Tarantino does best and these colourful examples are each perfectly drawn.
Then there is the music, probably the best example of Tarantino using music in his story telling. Framed by the K-Billy Super Sounds of the Seventies announcer Steven Wright, the music both amplifies and underscores the story. It also helps to create the entire world that these characters exist in. These sorts of sagas require a universe to exist in because it’s just not real enough to fit in our world. This is where many filmmakers that copy him fail. Tarantino is a master of making it all make sense and fitting it into a context so that we can buy it.
The story is simple yet elegant. It’s classic but twisted. Sure there is violence, violence that holds up today in our even bloodier cinema, but the violence remains integral to the story. Pulp Fiction was violence for violence’s sake but Reservoir Dogs is an ode to desperate, pathetic even tragic men whose world is filled with this level of violence. The film could certainly have been even bloodier and this may be the one film where Tarantino shows restraint.
None of that is to say this film isn't bloody. Believe me, this remains a film that is not for those with weak constitutions.
Yes, the characters are tragic. Not just because they all end up dead, but because they are done in by their own faults. Reservoir Dogs manages to critique the hyper-macho persona. It doesn’t just revel in misogyny, crime and addiction, it pulls its characters apart with them. Look at the film. We are to see how these sicknesses infect our characters. Sure we are still allowed to love them but we clearly see how their predilection for this kind of thinking is their undoing. It is never glamorized.
Mr. White is the tragic hero of the piece, believing in Orange’s integrity and destroyed by the “betrayal.” However, my money is on Mr. Pink who I think is the smartest of the group. His logic on tipping makes sense (think it through) if it’s not all culturally sensitive. He’s the only one who ever comes up with a good idea, namely getting the f@*# out of there while the getting is good. Finally, he’s the only one alive at the end so you tell me. It’s good to be Pink.
I have enjoyed Tarantino’s work since Reservoir Dogs, mostly because of the characters he creates. However, nothing has yet topped Dogs for pure enjoyment.