So great that the last actor established in the opening scene was, at the time, the film’s only star.
Pay attention to how the cinematography changes in the opening scene, depending on what is being discussed. It begins with roaming dolly shots during Mr. Brown’s (Quentin Tarantino) “Like a Virgin” theory, then changes to traditional tripod setups during Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Joe’s (Lawrence Tierney) argument about Joe’s book. It then goes back to dollies when music is brought up again (the group’s discussion about K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the ‘70s), and then back to traditional tripods (this time all close-up shots) during Mr. Pink’s (Steve Buscemi) tip speech. That’s great cinematography; constantly changing (which keeps us curious), yet always reliable (which makes us comfortable).
I would love to know if Keitel was directed to use that spoon, or if he just did. Either way, great use of a prop.
One of the most notable things about the famed credit sequence (that is rarely discussed) is that it wasn’t actually shot in slow motion. To shoot in slow-mo, you set your camera to a heightened frame rate (120fps is popular), then slow it down to the standard frame rate (24fps) in editing. That’s how you get that crisp, clean slow-mo look. But here, Tarantino shot the scene at the standard frame rate, then slowed it down to 12fps in editing. That’s why the slow motion in the sequence is clunky and slightly off. Yet, of course, it totally works for the material.
Tarantino withholding his writer/director credit from the opening credits, so that it is the first credit we see at the film’s conclusion (union films aren’t allowed to do both). He did this in Pulp Fiction as well.
This is by far the most upsetting scene in the film for me. Why? Tim Roth’s acting. Effective violence is all about performance, not gore.
Whenever I want to make my friends laugh, I do my spot-on impression of Mr. Orange wailing: “She had a baby, man! She had a baby!”
White raising his eyebrows after Orange asks to be held. It’s a small look that says, “Yeah, I mean, I guess. Kinda weird, but, I guess.”
Orange agreeing with Pink about the heist being a setup. A bold move for Orange to agree, given that he was in on it.
White asking Pink to discuss the setup in the next room. They’re like parents who don’t want to argue in front of their children.
Tarantino never gets enough credit for his stealth oners (long takes disguised as long takes). This hallway shot, for example, runs a healthy 1 minute 32 seconds. May not seem like that long a take, but considering a lot of the action takes place off screen (Pink throwing shit around), it’s pretty significant to hold the shot here.
People always say it’s a continuity error that Mr. White doesn’t light his cigarette here. I disagree. He thinks about lighting it, but simply chooses not to. It’s not like he tries to smoke it throughout the scene, he just holds it. Never understood what all the fuss was about.
Pink calling the pedestrian he just plowed over a “Fucker!” all while three cops chase him. Never too late to insult someone, I suppose.
White darting a look at Pink as he loads his gun, as if to ask, “What do you plan to do with that, motherfucker?”
Cutting from a master in one setting, to an out of focus, low-angle medium shot in flashback… that shit never happens. That is why I love movies.
Again with the purposeful camera movement. Before, all of Orange and Pink’s warehouse scenes were shot on tripods. Now they’re handheld. That jerkiness makes us anxious, as if something bad is about to happen (which it is).
Good time to mention the film’s sound design. Boom operators, mixers, designers… they spend hours trying to remove the hollow echoes produced by voices in a big room, but Reservoir Dogs embraces the auditory structure of the warehouse. Love it.
Stealth oner: White and Pink argue about taking Orange to the hospital. Shot length: 1 minute 48 seconds.
This is the first time Michael Madsen’s character is referred to “Mr. Blonde” to his face. When I saw Reservoir Dogs for the first time, I wondered so badly who White and Pink were talking about. Which actor is the psychopathic mad man?! I want to know! A great character reintroduction.
Next time someone makes you mad, tell them off as articulately as you can, then punctuate your argument with “ASSHOLE!” It’s brilliant.
Pink rolling his eyes after Blonde asks White, “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?”
Blonde just barely managing to grab the chair as Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) body slams him. If Madsen had missed that chair, he would’ve gotten wrecked.
“Either he’s alive or he’s dead, or the cops got him… or they don’t.” That’s a great line, but Nice Guy Eddie’s annoyed double take is even better.
How pleased Blonde is when “Stuck in the Middle with You” begins playing. Like he’s thinking, “God… damn, I haven’t heard this tune in years.”
In the age of film (which Reservoir Dogs was shot on), I have no clue how you could start inside a moderately lit location, move outside into the harsh sunlight, then go back inside to the location, all in one shot, without having exposure issues. That would be so incredibly difficult to pull off, trust me.
A lot of people think the radio magically turns off after the song is finished, but if you listen closely, you can hear commercials being played.
Flashbacks within flashbacks are a tough thing to pull off, but damn if The Commode Story from Reservoir Dogs doesn’t pull it off great. Also, the main rule for flashbacks within flashbacks is that you land where you began, which, of course, Reservoir Dogs does.
Orange making a mock “wrong answer” buzzer sound when he refers to himself as “Freddie” during his Commode Story rehearsal.
Technically, the scene where Joe assigns the Dogs their names takes place before Orange meets with his cop buddy in the diner. At the diner, Orange tells his friend about the color-themed names, which means the assignment scene has already happened. Point is, if your story is solid, audiences won’t give a shit if your film momentarily takes place out of order.
Tim Roth’s British accent coming through during the line, “You’re not blind, you just got blood in your eyes.”
Again, never understood what the big deal was about the final shootout. Joe shoots Orange, White shoots Joe, Eddie shoots White, White shoots Eddie. Yeah, it happens fast, but White clearly gets two shots off. Actually, he gets three, but only hits twice.
More great sound design. Turn your speakers up all the way, and you hear police cars roll up, a brief shoot out, and then the cops telling Pink to put his hands up. “Don’t shoot, I’ve been shot, goddamnit!” Pink yells. And because we don’t hear any more shots, it’s safe to assume that Pink was shot in the brief scuffle, and then gave himself over to the cops without further incident. Put de lime in de coconut and call me in the morning.
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