If Tarantino didn't exist, Hollywood would have invented him by now. A filmmaker defined by his on-screen influences rather than any surging internal impulse, he's an artist fed by the cultural crackle, tuned into and turned on by the busy flash and flicker of what's in and what's on.
So, coming to his fierce debut, it's no surprise that Reservoir Dogs is big on the derivative. As anybody who's seen The Killing knows. Or City On Fire. Or The Taking Of Pelham One, Two, Three. They're great ingredients, though, and Tarantino's smart-mouth script proceeds to cough all over them. Loudly. With added volume.
Motored by profane, funky, fuck-quacked dialogue, chewed on by a swinging cast, it's a heist-gone-wrong thriller by name, pitch-black comedy by nature and a bucking bronco of audience manipulation. Go on: you name one movie - - just one - - that can make you wince in ice-cold revulsion (that ear slicing) then make you laugh at the twist of a lens (Michael Madsen yelling into said ear).
Now the barking's died down over the contentious violence, all that remains is awe: this is, after all, a one-location stageplay so brilliantly composed, so visually dynamic, you can only really watch it in widescreen. Oh - - and just for the record: Joe shoots first. Then Mr White. Then Nice Guy Eddie. Definitely. Ah, crisp DVD slow-mo, how we love you...