BluRay/DVD Reviews

RESERVOIR DOGS

By • Aug 27th, 2002 •

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I’d say the actual widescreen 100 minutes of RESERVOIR DOGS, Quentin Tarantino’s groundbreaking debut film about a jewel heist gone bad, is secondary to the TONS of supplemental material on the new 2-DVD set; an amazing movie by my standards, this color-coordinated package is the kind mandatory DVD purchase even if you didn’t like the movie (the “Detroit Rock City” DVD, for example- mediocre movie, amazing extras).

There is just SO MUCH stuff on this DVD! Filmmaker commentaries, over an hour of film critic commentaries, behind-the-scenes, location footage, actor interviews, stuff on the ’92 Sundance Film Festival and much, much more.

And there’s Quentin Tarantino himself, who seems to have slowed down his maniacal delivery just a bit, though always “on” in front of the camera (a closet actor cursed with filmmaking genius), talking about everything from making the movie, why Chow Yun-Fat and John Woo just don’t do it for him, how Harvey Keitel gave him and producer Lawrence Bender “credibility,” and that films like TAXI DRIVER, CARRIE and JAWS are ‘hysterical'(just like, he says, his movies are.)

There’re also some great interviews with Chris Penn, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Kirk Balz (the cop who gets his ear cut off). They’ve all gained about ten pounds each in the ten years since RESERVOIR DOGS as they talk about their acting craft and working on the movie (Madsen, cool as ever, is most comfortable talking about his dogs and his kids. “I don’t think I’ll be remembered for FREE WILLY,” he says.) The audio commentary has Tarantino, Bender, editor Sally Menke, Madsen, Penn and others throughout the film, and it is very informative, but it’s just interviews edited into the film (no one is actually watching the film).

I learned some cool things about RESERVOIR DOGS from watching all the interviews, stuff that was under my nose the whole time and made sense after it was revealed: Tarantino’s monologue about Madonna’s song LIKE A VIRGIN, which opens the movie, becomes a detailed discussion about a song we never hear, which mirrors a thorough analysis of a heist we never see; that RESERVOIR DOGS was a direct influence on Christopher Nolan’s film MEMENTO; and DOGS’ famous “Ear Scene” is actually a dance number (to the tune of “Stuck In The Middle Of You”) that pays homage to Malcolm McDowell kicking his rape victim to Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ In The Rain” in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.)

And what RESERVOIR DOGS set could be complete without the extensive commentary on the cutting-off-of-the-ear sequence? We have two close-up alternate takes of Madsen’s Mr. Blonde hacking off cop Marvin Nash’s ear; I prefer the theatrical ‘panning away from the carnage’, not because the dismemberment is too disgusting, rather the prosthetic ear looks too fake to me.

There’s also a tender tribute to Lawrence Tierney (“Joe Cabot”). He’s painted by his contemporaries as a tough and loveable son-of-a-bitch, from his clashes with Tarantino about the script, to the lawn furniture that he insisted on giving Chris Penn.

There are four different DVD packagings for RESERVOIR DOGS each featuring a player on the cover with his corresponding color: Harvey Keitel (Mr. “White”), Steve Buscemi (Mr. “Pink”), Michael Madsen (Mr. “Blonde”) and Tim Roth (Mr. “Orange”). Two of my best friends bought the “Mr. Pink” DVD, and one of them asked me, “Which color did you get?” I picked “Mr. Blonde,” the yellow cover. My other friend said, “Really? I thought you’d have got the Harvey Keitel (white) cover.” It surprised me how much this friend of mine knew me, because Keitel is one of my favorite actors, though not in RESERVOIR DOGS – it’s Madsen, as Mr. Blonde, exuding an amazing, quiet intensity: He’s the ultimate sociopath, but cool as hell. Every time I watch him get shot to death by Tim Roth, I can’t believe it (similar to my disbelief that John Lennon is dead) because he’s so much larger-than-life on the screen.

Of all the Tarantino DVD re-releases (PULP FICTION and JACKIE BROWN have also hit the stores in deluxe editions recently), ‘RESERVOIR DOGS Ten Years’ is the best. They have their documentaries (but no commentaries), interviews and trailers, but RESERVOIR DOGS has everything AND the kitchen sink thrown in.

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