28117, Part II: Reservoir Dogs|
Posted by The Damaja, Thu Aug-18-05 09:38 AM
(not so much for this one)
Reservoir Dogs put Tarantino behind the camera, where he again showed off his gift for writing the sustained monologue and simultaneously revealed his unique command of narrative time. Tarantino uses a collage of recollected events and establishing flashbacks to move free of linear storytelling as we see a Los Angeles jewelry heist foiled by an undercover cop. Like Scorsese characters of Mean Streets and Goodfellas, Tarantino's thugs talk about black people as repulsive inferiors, but they also accuse on another of verbally imitating their talk and express sexual attraction to Pam Grier types in the middle of a riotous discussion of domestic differences between white and black women.
Their racial complexity is furthered by the fact that the undercover cop's instructor is black and teaches him how to "pass" for the kind of white criminal necessary to fool the robbers. In order to give his character authenticity, the undercover cop even tells a story that the black mentor scripted and rehearsed with him. The audience of racist crooks swallows it whole. This is another variation on the tradition of Negro composers and arrangers successfully writing for white bands that performed almost exclusively for white audiences. It is also a version of thee black choreographer Lester Johnson tutoring John Travolta for Saturday Night Fever, where his character danced in an essentially all-white world and made Travolta into the disco Fred Astaire of the period. Such events raise the essential question of what we mean by "white" if, as in American. it's long gone from any kind of European "purity." Though one instance of torture in Reservoir Dogs goes to far for this writer's taste, the control of form. the ethnic complexity, and the understanding of criminal psychology are outstanding.