REVIEW: Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs has Quentin Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it— or, rather, it is Tarantino’s fingerprint. The plot revolves around a group of laughably dysfunctional thieves that encounter trouble when an undercover cop joins their diamond heist. Obscenity-heavy dialogue bounces between twisted characters in a landscape so grim and hopeless that it borders on absurd. Morality is skewed in Tarantino’s world— one minute, the group is discussing the necessity of tipping waitresses, and the next minute a wailing bloodbath is dismissed as a careless blunder. As his writing and directing debut, Reservoir Dogs not-so-gracefully showcases Tarantino’s filmmaking and character-building style; he invalidates the idea that his characters can be redeemed but retains their humanity through witty conversations and vulnerable relationships. There are no villains, heroes, or even a plot structure that feels rewarding; everything is justified and so everything is disappointing. It’s a caricature of the consequences and tragedy of the real world, just framed in a more shocking and theatrical context, and with a lot more blood for a dramatic flourish.

Watching this movie in the Michigan Theatre felt like committing a sin. Reservoir Dogs felt too gritty and grotesque for the ornate and gilded antiquity of the theatre, creating this visceral irony. The experience itself was an oxymoron. Watching the film in such a comfortable space reminded me of the experience of watching Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, a similarly gruesome tale of bloody stand-offs and unredeemable acts. There is no fitting place to watch these movies without feeling strangely guilty and disturbed, which I’m beginning to think is exactly the feeling Tarantino is trying to evoke. Reservoir Dogs is intended to make you squirm in your seat and want to avert your eyes but the magnetism of the characters won’t let you. This is bound to be a memorable experience regardless of whether you like the movie or not.

Being his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs isn’t without its flaws. I had predicted that there would be close-ups of some feminine feet in this film— a weird fetish of Tarantino’s— but there were not. I attribute this to the fact that there were zero women in this movie for more than a brief second. Whether or not this is a flaw is a complicated question, because Reservoir Dogs is mostly set in a claustrophobic space with just a few key characters and the film makes a point of subtly ridiculing the hypermasculinity of the group. Constantly screaming at each other, the group of thieves is everything but emotional apt and professional. The explicit racism in the dialogue also felt a bit too far at times, although it also functioned to deepen the immorality of the characters. The script’s edginess felt a little forceful and phony but retained its entertainment value overall.

The consensus is that Reservoir Dogs is a staple Tarantino, but that also means it isn’t for everyone. If you’re in the mood to laugh a little while feeling thoroughly disturbed, check it out at your own risk. Catch another movie at the Michigan Theatre before the year ends. Don’t miss out on the cheap student tickets!

PREVIEW: Reservoir Dogs

This Friday night, the Michigan Theatre is screening yet another cult classic— the grotesquely dramatic Reservoir Dogs, a 1992 Tarantino-directed tale of men committing bloody crimes in an experienced manner and turning on each other with machismo flair. I’ve never seen Reservoir Dogs, but judging from Quentin Tarantino’s typical style of writing and directing, I’m expecting dialogue ridden with deadpan jokes, bloody spurts of gunfire, and maybe a few close-up shots of manicured feet.

Reservoir Dogs is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, so it comes as no surprise that the cult-classic-obsessed Michigan Theatre is giving the film a night to shine. The plot of Reservoir Dogs entails a diamond heist attempted by a group of thieves. One of the thieves tips off the police, unraveling a group investigation into which member of the group is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. My opinions on Tarantino’s works fall all across the spectrum— Kill Bill entranced me with its memorable characters and enthralling journey; Django: Unchained exhibited the thrill of revenge with beautiful violence; Pulp Fiction, however, fell short as an incohesive mess that tried to make up for its lack of plot with good chemistry and fresh edginess. Will Reservoir Dogs drone on aimlessly or reward itself with character arcs and a cleanly wrapped ending? My intuition leans toward the latter, taking the quiet cultural appreciation for the film as a positive sign. Regardless, it’s bound to be an adventure! I can’t say enough that student tickets are $8.50, so grab a ticket to a classic before the school year ends!

PREVIEW: If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk only hit local theaters recently, but it is already garnering an impressive reputation. An adaptation of the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin, the film has accrued several award nominations, including three at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay. Directed by Barry Jenkins of Moonlight fame, the film stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James as Tish and Fonny, a young couple whose romance is derailed and tested when Fonny is falsely accused of rape and Tish discovers that she is pregnant. If Beale Street Could Talk is currently playing at the State Theatre, as well as other local Ann Arbor theaters such as the Ann Arbor 20 IMAX and the Quality 16.

Review: The Drop – Well played sir.


The Drop approaches a common subject in an original and surprising way. Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island) has crafted another brilliant crime narrative that shies away from cliché and common narrative tropes that tend to pepper cross-cultural, urban crime plots.

The Drop HD Stills Wallpapers

The film follows Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) who tends bar at a local bar in Brooklyn owned by his ‘cousin Marv’ (James Gandolfini). Cousin Marv’s bar occasionally acts as a cash drop for the local Chechen mob. Two amateur thieves rob the bar, which creates tension between Marv and the Chechen mob, putting the lives of Bob and Marv at risk if they aren’t able to recover the stolen money.

Throughout the film we learn more about Marv and Bob’s pasts, their attempt and ultimate failure at establishing a gang when they were young and Marv’s reverberating desire to be infamous. Family ties play an important role in Marv and Bob’s relationship as they work to ensure their own survival.

Early on in the film Bob finds an abused puppy in a garbage can one night on his way home from work. This is how he comes to know Nadia (Noomi Rapace) a young woman with a troubled past and problematic ex. The puppy, who Bob names Rocco, is a catalase for Bob and Nadia’s friendship.


I would hate to say too much more about the plot for fear of spoiling your experience of the complexities of these characters and the many layers at play throughout the plot.

The Drop is a very well crafted script directed with precision by Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead) in his English-language directing debut. Hardy, Rapace and Gandolfini bring expertly bring Dennis Lehane’s narrative to life. This film is extremely satisfying to watch, I highly recommend it.

Currently showing at The State Theater and other nearby locations.