Discover more from Funerals & Snakes
Something to watch tonight: Monday 18 September
Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1991) is available in a new 4K UHD edition from ViaVision/Madman
Thirty years ago I was working for the Paramount movie theatre in Wellington and, as a feisty little upstart independent, we had to work hard to get and keep an audience.
Winning the exclusive Wellington rights to the notorious Reservoir Dogs – it had quite the reputation from Cannes in 1992 – was big and we were determined to make the most of it.
A group of unemployed actor chums were gathered together, dressed in dark suits, white shirts, skinny ties and sunglasses, and then tasked with walking through the city handing out promotional postcards for the film.
It was an interesting exercise – trying to look intimidating but not so intimidating that people wouldn’t buy what we were selling! (To be honest, as a non-actor, not being too intimidating wasn’t that big a stretch for me!)
The film remains a favourite among the men of my generation but it was interesting to revisit it now that I am older than Harvey Keitel was when the film was released.
Back in the day, we were caught up in the rat-a-tat-tat dialogue that Tarantino produced so effortlessly and the clever back-and-forth structure showing the botched heist and its aftermath from all sides. It seemed so exciting.
But neither of those things feels quite like the novelty they once did.
This time around I was struck by Keitel’s performance and the nature of the love story between him (Mr. White) and Tim Roth (Mr. Orange).
It’s a one-sided love story, obviously, but during this rewatch I realised how it was that White made the fatal mistake of vouching for Orange during the recruitment and why.
The look in his eyes when he realises that he has been betrayed is heartbreaking – heartbreaking not being a word I would have used to describe Reservoir Dogs thirty years ago.
They are also the only two characters who tell each other their real names – another uncharacteristically sentimental breach in a plan that a tough old crim like White should have stuck to.
This time around, I was also very much taken with the performance of Chris Penn as “Nice Guy” Eddie. Compared with the cool guys in the sunglasses, it was easy to think of him as a bit of a joke character but Eddie is invariably the smartest in the room. Penn died at the age of 40 from heart disease. What a loss.
Funerals & Snakes is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The new UHD master of Reservoir Dogs is available in a very collectible edition featuring lenticular artwork (the image changes subtly as you tilt the box) and a handful of postcards.
It’s a limited edition and you can find it in store at most JB Hi-Fi outlets or direct from ViaVision in Australia.
If you prefer a rental, the 4K remaster is also available from Apple.