FEATURE RESERVOIR D
idway through the press
On screen, to the tune of Stealer‘s Wheel‘s pop pap toe—tapper Stuck In The Middle With You. psycho bad guy Michael Madsen was gleefully torturing an unfortunate law enforcement officer with a sharp razor and a can of petrol. Off screen, to the sound of much kerfufﬂing, a not-so-hardened hack had taken a tumble as he ran in horror for the exit. Yes indeed, positive proofthat Reservoir Dogs is a movie to knock you literally off your feet. Hardly the end of January, and already Quentin Tarantino‘s
screening came a loud and heavy thump as a body fell to the ﬂoor.
' “There are real characters in this movie too
. . . they always remain human beings, even Michael Madsen when he’s cutting the guy up.’
hard-hitting combo of uncompromising carnage and ultra black humour weighs in as a surefire film-of-the-year contender.
Up until two years ago, the 29—year-old was running a video shop. Now he’s the most sought-after talent in town, with Tony Scott and Oliver Stone’s company in the midst of
' shooting screenplays Tarantino couldn‘t
give away in the days prior to the current Tinseltown feeding frenzy. Ironic .ly enough, having plugged away for years trying to set up a first feature in Hollywood.
3 the onset of frustration had him originally
planning to shoot Reservoir Dogs guerrilla-style in 16mm for a mere $30,000 of his own money. “I’d wasted my twenties looking for that elusive deal,‘ he reflects, ‘but my producer begged me to let him have two months to get people interested in it. I wasn’texpecting anything. but . . . well. here we are.’
Written in a three-week burst ofadrenalin
. and inspiration, Tarantino‘s story is set deep
in apres scene-of—the-crime foul-up territory, as a gang of hoods — known to each
; other only by colour-coded nicknames —
3 meet up at an abandoned warehouse and try 5 to figure out just how a rigorously planned
diamond robbery turned into a
, multi-casualty bloodbath. Thankfully. we
don’t get to see the main event itself, but
what with Tim Roth‘s Mr Orange spending
most ofthe movie bleeding to death before our eyes and Madsen‘s little party piece as
his Mr Blonde ﬂips the switch marked “wig out’, there‘s a veritable ﬂood of red
corpuscles to be getting on with.
.1!“ he List l5» lxlunuar} 1W.i
Fast-talking writer-director QUENTIN TARANTINO’s é blood-soaked gangster ﬂick Reservoir Dogs is being hailed all round I as the hottest Hollywood debut in years. Trevor Johnston meets the ?
Actually, too few reviewers have resisted the temptation to revel in the film’s sensational aspects, but giving undue over-emphasis to the intermittent violence at the expense of everything else does the talented Tarantino a distinct creative disservice. From the opening coversation where the assembled ne’er-do-wells discuss the philosophical nuances of Madonna‘s Like A Virgin, it’s obvious that there’s more going on here than your average straight-down-the-line gangster ﬂick, and the movie-obsessive young filmmaker proves more than eager to talk about the film‘s complex relationship to the crime genre as a whole.
‘I love genre films, awright,‘ he says, pumping out words like an automatic and leaning so far over the table his nose is almost touching mine. ‘I gotta lotta respect for this genre in movies and literature, and I also like playing with the genre. Twisting it. Turning it to my own needs. I’m a big fan of the French New Wave crime movies, which took Hollywood pictures and put a whole new spin on them by setting them in Paris and giving them that kinda tough guy existential angst. I wanna take those movies in turn and give them back their American vernacular so the whole thing comes full circle.
‘I like the idea of playing with the iconic side ofthings, but there are real characters in this movie too,’ he adds, adamant that it’s not just an exercise in stylish pastiche. ‘They‘re more recognisable than the guys in
Jean-Pierre Melville‘s films, for instance. The gang in Reservoir Dogs don‘t say “Hey, = we‘re bankrobbers and we‘re gonna talk about a lotta bankrobber type stuff". they always remain human beings, even Michael Madsen when he’s cutting the guy up.‘ The very mention ofwhich reminds me to , ask him about the music on the soundtrack. a cavalcade of pap as intro‘d by lugubrious comic Steven Wright as K-Billy DJ and his Super Sounds OfThe Seventies. ‘You know , what’s really cool,‘ enthuses Mr T in return, f “it’s when you can achieve two things by 9 doing one thing. And the music functions that way. This is a rough. rude movie and all that sorta bubblegum rock gives it a mischievous spirit, lightens it up a little. That‘s neat, awright, but in the torture sequence using Stealer‘s Wheel has the effect of making the scene even more disturbing. It‘s a catchy song, you start getting into the groove and you begin to enjoy Michael Madsen and his little dance. but then the hard stuffstarts. There are people who actually seem to keep on enjoying it, but even with the people who are horrified and want to walk out. it‘s like it's too late because they‘ve already been drawn in. They‘re co-conspirators.‘
Reservoir Dogs opens at the U (.‘I ( 'lydebank on Friday 22 January; Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday 24 January; and the Cameo. Edinburgh, on Friday5 February. A special List/ Cameo screening takes place at l 1 .30pm on Friday 291anuary — more details next issue.