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Reservoir Dogs (1992) at 30
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.
Patrick: Taylor, watching this movie started as a dare for you. Would you like to explain this dare?
Taylor: I'd be happy to explain the dare, Patrick. I absolutely LOVE the song "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel. I think it could wake me up from a coma. I just can't help but do a little dance and sing it every time, as it is an instant mood booster. The first time I expressed my love for this song to you, you promptly said, "You wouldn't feel that way if you saw Reservoir Dogs." You continued to tell me that every time we listened to it for the next five years, as my love for the song only grew stronger. I finally replied to your comment one day and said, "I love this song SO MUCH that I truly don't think a gruesome scene would phase me." Now here we are, having just watched Reservoir Dogs.
Patrick: This, of course, is Quentin Tarantino's debut feature from 1992. The world has lived with Reservoir Dogs for 30 years and you've lived with it for about 30 seconds. What are your overall thoughts?
Taylor: I say this all the time, but it's true - I think I would have appreciated it more with fewer distractions and/or in a theatre. I'll never complain about seeing a young Buscemi, but I'll always complain about seeing Tarantino act. Great music, primary-color-level red blood, some fun performances, hilariously quotable dialogue ("Where's the commode in this dungeon? I gotta take a squirt!"), and a genuinely suspenseful series of events that led to a great twist. I was impressed, but I want to give it another shake down the line. I'm sure there are things that I missed.
Patrick: Sure, some of those things are the result of watching the new 4K disc at home. I don't think the blood has ever looked like that before. My biggest takeaway, after having not watched it for a few years until this new release, is that it really feels like a debut feature. Big ideas, tons of cinematic inspiration (full-on name-dropping Lee Marvin for cryin' out loud), trying to make a mark right away - all the things that make it Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino. But it's also got some really rough pacing and clunky moments. It's absolutely nobody's best acting work because...he didn't know how to work with actors yet! It's hard not to compare this to his better and more experienced movies, but also he did all these things better later.
Taylor: Absolutely. But in saying that, it's still a great debut. I mean, we've seen some rough debuts through the years, and at least this is thrilling (mostly) and comprehensible. It's solid, but could use a clean-up for all the reasons you just pointed out.
Patrick: If he made this movie now, I would love it. Because I love his work. Sometimes that's embarrassing to say because he's so freakin' embarrassing, but it's true. Pulp Fiction changed the way I look at movies and Inglourious Basterds is in my top five of all time. This, in being a debut, just isn't quite there for me yet. But it is full of all of the Quentinisms we love, like a killer soundtrack. So I have to ask, did it ruin the song for you?
Taylor: Not even close! In fact, I think it proved to me that you can't listen to that song and not dance - no matter what the circumstance is. That song kicks serious ass!
Patrick: I do love Michael Madsen's goofy white guy dancing in that moment. It's probably my favorite part of the movie. Did you know that his character is brothers with John Travolta's character in Pulp Fiction? For years Tarantino said he was going to make a movie about the two of them doing bastardly shit, but they got too old. He made Inglourious Basterds instead. Way better move.
Taylor: I did not know that! To be honest, the Tarantino Canon intimidates me a little bit, and I think it makes me disassociate a little bit while watching because it's hard not to get lost in thought about how much people love his movies, the notoriety of his work, etc. That said, I'm shocked at how little I remember about both Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, but PF especially. I want to rewatch them all at some point. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is the only one I have a clear idea and memory of and that's because I've seen it twice.
Patrick: You always say you need to rewatch stuff to get a complete picture. I appreciate that about you, but I also wish there were more hours in the day. Inglourious Basterds rewatch next, if that's the case. Final question, Steve Buscemi: Reservoir Dogs or Monsters, Inc.?
Taylor: You could ask me "________________ or Monsters, Inc." in just about any context and I'm going to choose Monsters, Inc. It is the greatest animated film of all time. Reservoir Dogs is not the objective "best" at anything, so it's gotta be Monsters, Inc.
Patrick: Monsters, Inc. or Bullet Train?
Taylor: Okay, listen - Bullet Train is a truly great movie that deserves way more praise than it got. Still, it's gonna be Monsters, Inc. every. single. time.
Patrick: Good, Bullet Train wouldn't exist without Reservoir Dogs - for better or for worse.
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