Author Topic: 90s US Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs  (Read 26260 times)

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7501
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2009, 08:41:08 PM »
I had a bunch of notes that I had made while watching this film. But then when I went back and looked at the earlier verdicts, I realized that people had already covered a lot of the points that I had in my notes. So I'm going to freely borrow from those earlier write-ups.

For one thing, I think I completely echo pixote's reaction to the beginning of the film.

The opening is most famous for the dialogue in the diner ("Like a Virgin", tipping, etc.), but what's more impressive, I think, is the slow, confident immersion into the story through play with tone and expectations and counterpoint.  As engaging as that opening dialogue is, after seven minutes or whatever, I'm still wondering what the hell I'm watching exactly.  And after all that fast, off-color patter, the opening credits use of K-Billy's Super Sounds of the Seventies moves the film in this unexpectedly mellow direction but the contrast isn't jarring so much as just fun.  I'm still not sure what I'm watching, but now I don't care, I'm along for the ride no matter what.  Then the capper is the really perfect use of sound at the end of the credits, with Tim Roth's agonized screaming rising up on the soundtrack near the end of the song.  After the meandering, dialogue-driven opening, then the mellow start to the credits, this plunge right into a dramatic high point of the story really brought a smile to my face, and the eventual cut to Roth writhing in pain in the back of the car, bleeding all over the place, is a great payoff to these first ten minutes.

Actually, the smile on my face began right from the discussion on "Like a virgin" and tipping but those opening credits set to Little Green Bag which ends with Roth's screaming just made me smile even wider.
But I'm not ready to move away from that tipping scene just yet. I think the scene at the diner, which seems initially like an off-the-wall discussion actually does a great job of introducing us to the characters. The camera circles around the table initially. The men are all in black suits and ties except for two men. We get the idea that these two men are different or separate from the rest in some way. And then the camera stops circling and we have the shot/reverse shot between Joe and Mr. White and we get the sense that Mr. White is familiar with Joe... enough to be able to joke around and grab his address book away from. The camera stops again when the tipping conversation comes on. Mr. Pink is instantly established as someone who doesn't trust other people and seems to be focused on himself. Mr. White seems decent and concerned about the life of these waitresses. Mr. Orange seems quiet and unsure and mostly seems to be observing the others. Mr. Blonde seems cool and also seems comfortable with Joe. Mr. Brown and Mr. Blue don't seem to say much.

But like pix said, we don't really know what is happening up until this point or what we are watching exactly. But then the music comes on and we have that iconic scene and every character walks towards the camera as the opening credits come up and I can't imagine anyone who is not on-board with spending time with this film by this point.





Junior

  • Bert Macklin, FBI
  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 27809
  • What's the rumpus?
    • Benefits of a Classical Education
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2009, 08:43:46 PM »
Yeah, in my cool rundown the words "fun" and "cool" were interchangeable. I had a smile on my face throughout, which I think was kind of the point of the film. Super fun and really well made.
Check out my blog of many topics

Im not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7501
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2009, 08:45:21 PM »
COOL.
Not SUPERCOOL?

pixote

Maybe, but I agree with sdedalus's review that Roth is the one weak link performance-wise. Sure, QT isn't a great actor either but he is hardly in the film. On the other hand, like sdedalus, I never bought into Roth's performance and couldn't believe that he could pass off as a seasoned criminal.

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24353
    • smirnoff's Top 100
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2009, 08:46:47 PM »
I agree about the start. It's just awesome. The opening Diner scene is great. You sorta drop in on all these guys, most of them dressed alike, as they shoot the breeze. It's a real range of characters, and the scene has a intriguing quality to it as you sit there and try to pick up on what it is they do, who answers to who, and what makes each one tick, all accompanied by entertaining dialogue. Then there is that great slow mo walking to the camera thing, with the actors credits and the title of the film. At this point I was both interested and having fun, and I was thinking the rest of the film was going to be as good. Instead, this is the moment when the film peaked for me. It became less and less intrigueing and the novelty wore off.

Junior

  • Bert Macklin, FBI
  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 27809
  • What's the rumpus?
    • Benefits of a Classical Education
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2009, 08:48:41 PM »
COOL.
Not SUPERCOOL?

pixote

Maybe, but I agree with sdedalus's review that Roth is the one weak link performance-wise. Sure, QT isn't a great actor either but he is hardly in the film. On the other hand, like sdedalus, I never bought into Roth's performance and couldn't believe that he could pass off as a seasoned criminal.

I think the rehersal scene was what really made him work for me. Up until that point he was yelling or passed out. But the manner in which QT shot it (moving from place to place while keeping the story going) and Roth's growing ease with the story sold it for me.
Check out my blog of many topics

Im not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24353
    • smirnoff's Top 100
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2009, 08:52:14 PM »
COOL.
Not SUPERCOOL?

pixote

Maybe, but I agree with sdedalus's review that Roth is the one weak link performance-wise. Sure, QT isn't a great actor either but he is hardly in the film. On the other hand, like sdedalus, I never bought into Roth's performance and couldn't believe that he could pass off as a seasoned criminal.

Now that's interesting. I actually thought Roth was in the upper echelon of the performances in this flick, along with Buscemi and Madsen.

The weak links for me were Keitel and Penn... but mostly Keitel. He was noticeably off at some points I thought.

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7501
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2009, 08:52:51 PM »
This bothers me too, and I can't shake it. Whenever I see a "cool" part in a Tarantino movie, it's not the same as seeing a cool part in any other movie. I put "cool" in quotations because it's not actually cool. It lacks the unaware effortlessness of being cool. What's "cool" in Tarantino movies is actually just fun. This is a problem, because while Tarantino is busy getting his jollies, I'm stuck trying to reconcile what's just throwaway amusement, and the rest of the film!

Sigh. Maybe I'm just going about it all wrong. Maybe I never was supposed to do any more than enjoy a Tarantino film for the neverending string of cool, just like I was never supposed to actually care about the story in a porno. Watch it, have fun, that's it. There are times when I'm happy to have fun right along with his films, but there's a lot of time when I'm looking for more and it's not there. Reservoir Dogs was definitely one of those times.

Hmmm, I can see what you're saying about not being able to distinguish the merely cool from the relevant to the film stuff. I noticed that too.. but it bothered me less because (almost) every conversation was funny and entertaining to me. I could feel QT's excitement at being able to put all this stuff that he enjoys thinking and talking about into this film and have these great actors say this stuff and given that I was paying attention to all the dialogue anyway, I figured I'd eventually know what is and what is not relevant to the plot. Some of it did feel unnecessary retrospectively to me though (the racist conversation in the car).

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7501
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2009, 08:55:04 PM »
COOL.
Not SUPERCOOL?

pixote

Maybe, but I agree with sdedalus's review that Roth is the one weak link performance-wise. Sure, QT isn't a great actor either but he is hardly in the film. On the other hand, like sdedalus, I never bought into Roth's performance and couldn't believe that he could pass off as a seasoned criminal.

Now that's interesting. I actually thought Roth was in the upper echelon of the performances in this flick, along with Buscemi and Madsen.

The weak links for me were Keitel and Penn... but mostly Keitel. He was noticeably off at some points I thought.

Agree on Buscemi and Madsen. Incidentally, Madsen reminded me of Robert Mitchum a little!! He was amazing in this I thought and he looked really good too :D.

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24353
    • smirnoff's Top 100
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2009, 08:56:59 PM »
For the record, I originally saw Reservoir Dogs around 7 or 8 years ago. I didn't fall in love with it at the time. I've since gone on to see the rest of Tarantino's work, and aside from Jackie Brown and Deathproof I've never seen a Tarantino film that lived up to the hype, or even my own expectations. What's the big deal? I would ask myself.

A lot of time has passed since then. My tastes have probably changed more than I even realize. The chance to revisit Reservoir Dogs didn't exactly have me chomping at the bit, but I was interested how it was going to hit me this time around. My expectations were low, so I figured I'd end up being pleasantly surprised. That's not exactly how it played out.

Junior

  • Bert Macklin, FBI
  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 27809
  • What's the rumpus?
    • Benefits of a Classical Education
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Hoop Dreams vs. Reservoir Dogs
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2009, 08:58:34 PM »
This bothers me too, and I can't shake it. Whenever I see a "cool" part in a Tarantino movie, it's not the same as seeing a cool part in any other movie. I put "cool" in quotations because it's not actually cool. It lacks the unaware effortlessness of being cool. What's "cool" in Tarantino movies is actually just fun. This is a problem, because while Tarantino is busy getting his jollies, I'm stuck trying to reconcile what's just throwaway amusement, and the rest of the film!

Sigh. Maybe I'm just going about it all wrong. Maybe I never was supposed to do any more than enjoy a Tarantino film for the neverending string of cool, just like I was never supposed to actually care about the story in a porno. Watch it, have fun, that's it. There are times when I'm happy to have fun right along with his films, but there's a lot of time when I'm looking for more and it's not there. Reservoir Dogs was definitely one of those times.

Hmmm, I can see what you're saying about not being able to distinguish the merely cool from the relevant to the film stuff. I noticed that too.. but it bothered me less because (almost) every conversation was funny and entertaining to me. I could feel QT's excitement at being able to put all this stuff that he enjoys thinking and talking about into this film and have these great actors say this stuff and given that I was paying attention to all the dialogue anyway, I figured I'd eventually know what is and what is not relevant to the plot. Some of it did feel unnecessary retrospectively to me though (the racist conversation in the car).

The diner scene in particular reminded me of stupid conversations my friends and I have at meals. The first time I saw it I didn't really get it but this time it all clicked.
Check out my blog of many topics

Im not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!