Saturday, November 28, 2015


This is the second time I've reviewed RESERVOIR DOGS. The reason being I think I've become better at this blog thing since 2008. And I'm going to try and talk about every Tarantino film in honor of his new film THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

My favorite film is KILL BILL. I consider both volumes one film, but if you wanna get specific about it then KILL BILL VOL.2 is my favorite. My love for the film kick started my love for exploitation cinema. And for several years made Quentin Tarantino my favorite director. So for the next several weeks expect to see posts on not only Tarantino's films, but also his influences.

One thing I've noticed about RESERVOIR DOGS over multiple viewings is how well it holds up as a Tarantino film. This is his first directorial effort, but it doesn't look like one. Granted, the film does have some weaknesses which are improved in his second feature, PULP FICTION. But what I'm trying to say is that from the very beginning Tarantino set out to make a distinct oeuvre. The sum of a lifework of an artist, writer, or composer. So far all seven of his films feel like a body of work. With every single one of his films you know you're watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. And it all started with his first feature.

Sure, any artist or writer can have an oeuvre. But when I think of oeuvre I tend to think of people like Mozart, Picasso, Kurosawa, and Bergman. Not an filmmaker for hire like say Brett Ratner.

So much to say about RESERVOIR DOGS. The first time I saw this movie I had no idea who Tarantino was. Back in the day, I rented movies from this local joint called Movies n Video. I rented a lot from that place so they knew me by name. One of the employees knew I liked action movies so he told me to check "Dogs" out. I did and my first impression was originality and violence portrayed like I haven't seen before. In fact, while I thought it was cool and interesting, I probably didn't “get” the movie. It wouldn't be till about 10 years later that I fully loved and appreciated the film.

RESERVOIR DOGS is a heist movie. Most genre movies are reflective appreciations of each other. In other words, if you've seen one heist movie you've seen em all. But with RESERVOIR DOGS, he turns the heist genre on its head. He reinvents the formula. I can't think of any crime/heist movie where the film doesn't even show you the heist? I don't think there are very many crime movies where the bad guys talk about normal everyday things? Quentin Tarantino changed all of that!

He loves his characters and the actors who play them. He gives them cool background music; he gives them wonderful dialogue. All these things happen in the first 10 plus minutes of RESERVOIR DOGS.

The opening scene takes place in a diner. Sitting around a large table is a group of guys all dressed up in suits. One of the men starts talking (in lurid detail) about the "true" meaning of Madonna's "Like A Virgin". What a way to start a movie! The conversation then segue to K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70's weekend, then the famous rant of why Mr. Pink doesn't tip his waitresses. They leave the restaurant in slow motion with "Little Green Bag" playing as background music. Mr. Tarantino knows what cool is!

RESERVOIR DOGS is about a heist that has gone terribly wrong. Primarily taking place in one location, the rendezvous, the surviving criminals try to figure out what went wrong. One of the criminals suspects that there is a rat in the group that tipped off the cops. The rest of the film is recounted in flashbacks centering on key characters in the film. But to be fair they really aren't flashbacks. This is just Tarantino's novel approach to storytelling. And what I find most interesting still to this day is that none of the segments show the jewelry store heist!

I can't give away the ending, but it does have to do with probably my favorite part of the film. And that is the Mr. Orange segment. The film is over 20 years old so I can probably go into spoilers. But for that one person that may read this and that hasn't seen the movie? I just can't do it, sorry.

So next up is probably PULP FICTION? But before that expect to see at least a couple posts on films that have influenced the early works of Tarantino. Sometime or another I wanna blog about ROLLING THUNDER, BREATHLESS, STRAIGHT TIME, THE KILLERS, and a few others

Friday, November 27, 2015


The first time I saw JACKIE BROWN I was completely blown away. Blown away at how different it was from PULP FICTION. It was also impressive that I watched the movie in one seating. Unlike his previous two films, JACKIE BROWN is a slow burn. The story takes it's time, you're with these characters for the long haul.

Quentin Tarantino's 4th film KILL BILL VOL.1 was a week or two away from release, so I decided to get reacquainted and watch his movies again. And I even added some Robert Rodriguez to the mix. Night one was EL MARIACHI and RESERVOIR DOGS. The second night was PULP FICTION, DESPERADO, and FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. I skipped JACKIE BROWN because I remembered it being different than the others. But after KILL BILL VOL. 1 blew my mind, the following day I revisited the film post haste.

My mindset was perfect for watching the film again. Weeks leading up to the release of KILL BILL VOL. 1, I was reading interviews and researching everything about Tarantino's new film. I became a super fan of the director's work. And he will forever be one of my favorite filmmakers.

Being sandwiched between PULP FICTION and the KILL BILL films, I could see why JACKIE BROWN might not get the attention it deserves. It's a long movie with a lot of people talking. Which is nothing new in a Tarantino picture, but in JACKIE BROWN it's a little different.

The story is simple. A airline stewardess who is stuck in a dead end job gets caught bringing a large amount of cash over from Mexico. To avoid prison time or worse, death. Jackie Brown works on a plan to prevent either from happening.

And like a crime mystery novel, the characters move around like a game of chess for half million dollars. A story set up like this is as old as time. So that's why I think Tarantino made JACKIE BROWN more to do with the characters then the actual plot.

The character interactions are what I like best in JACKIE BROWN. You really get the feeling that you are hanging out with these characters. I have too many favorite moments to mention but I will at least share a few. This first one isn't a interaction but rather a introduction to the films title character, Jackie Brown. Brown is the first person we see in the movie. And her introduction is magnificent!

70's icon Pam Grier appears on screen powerfully. Tarantino is reminding us how cool the woman is! But then quickly the homage is over and we're now seeing Jackie. And she's doing her best not to be late for work at the airport terminal. It's an awesome scene.

The introduction of Ordell and Lewis is a classic! Talking shop on the selling of black market firearms all while watching the CHICKS WITH GUNS video. You know what scene I'm talking about! It was in all the trailers and might be one of the things most remembered about the film.

I don't think I have a favorite scene in the movie, but if I had to chose one it'd be Jackie getting bailed out of jail. Max the bail bondsman offers her a ride home. They stop at a bar (there are a lot of scenes in bars in this film, but it's okay because they are all so cool) to get a drink. The conversation starts of natural, talking about quitting smoking, how hard it is to quit, and then talking about the daily grind of a j.o.b. Then as smooth as whiskey, Max and Jackie are talking about the plot.

It's cool how hanging with these people move the story forward. At over 2 hours long the film does seem to drag in places but it's worth it.

Highly recommended!

Friday, November 13, 2015


In 1983, the year that RETURN OF THE JEDI came out, I was in Star Wars heaven. It was the pinnacle of my fandom. But I was also getting into the Masters Of The Universe toys. So I did not get very many Star Wars toys that year. But I made up for it with cool stuff like lunchboxes, T.V. Trays, and bed sheets.

Being 6 years old when RETURN OF THE JEDI was released, the Ewoks never bothered me. Watching the film now as an adult the 'teddy bears' still don't bother me, but man the Endor stuff is just boring nowadays. The end is still cool with the second Death Star battle, and Luke fighting Vader, but everything else on Endor drags. And it's not the Ewoks fault.

After the success of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK you would think Lucas and company had a better idea for EPISODE VI? If memory serves, George Lucas even mentions in the commentary on the DVD that Endor, Luke facing Vader, and the second Death Star battle were the only ideas he had for the third film. Really? That just seems odd to me. Rescuing Han Solo was an afterthought apparently? Which leads me to believe that at one time Lucas was okay with killing off the character, but changed his mind because of action figure sales. I'm sure he never was fine with the idea of killing off Han heroically, but you never know.

I mentioned earlier how now watching the movie as a adult that most of the stuff that takes place on Endor drags RETURN OF THE JEDI to a grinding halt. Of course because of the Ewoks being all cute for the kids. But also because Harrison Ford is phoning-it-in on his performance. Now this is pure speculation on my part but I believe this has something to do with Ford and the film's screenwriter wanting to kill off Han Solo. George Lucas said no, and that's why we've got a half hearten Han Solo in Episode VI.

Once everything is over with on Tatooine, the only interesting character arc for the rest of the film is Luke Skywalker. Which makes sense...I guess?

Just as the seasons change so does my opinion of my favorite Star Wars film. Probably never again, but there have been a few times that RETURN OF THE JEDI was my favorite film in the saga. The last time was during the 1997 re release in theaters. I think it had to do with seeing the film on the big screen mixed with the Rebellion defeating the Empire. And the story arc of Darth Vader. Make fun of Lucas all you want (I do), but the man had a vision for this original trilogy.

The film being my favorite of the trilogy lasted for a couple of years before Episode V took back the title. Then there was a long stretch until just recently that STAR WARS was my favorite. I fell in love with how simple the story was. A fairy tale in space.

While both STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK had lots of classic iconic moments, some of my favorite scenes in RETURN OF THE JEDI were the small ones. Like the confirmation from Yoda that Vader was indeed Luke's father. “Tell you, did he”? Man, I still love that scene! And everything during Luke's surrender to Vader and the Emperor.

Probably not (because of the Endor stuff), but there is a chance RETURN OF THE JEDI could again become my favorite. And that is if the theatrical release was ever made available. It is my dream to have an unaltered HD home video release of RETURN OF THE JEDI. As a kid I remember Jabba's Palace being a strange and somewhat scary place? Not anymore, thanks to the Special Edition. Instead, now the vile gangster's home has been child proofed. The “new and improved” dance number is the worst added sequence in the history of Special Edition additions.

Despite all the flaws I have with the movie, it's still part of the original trilogy, it's still Star Wars, and it's still a part of my childhood. Therefore, I am still always going to love it.

At the time of this post we are practically a month away from STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS. How crazy is that! This is the moment that fans have waited 32 years for! A new Star Wars film!