“Reservoir Dogs” is quite an experience – it’s like a 100 minute trailer for “Pulp Fiction,” in which Quentin Tarantino ironed out the kinks and got the story straight. The heavy-handed treatment of everything in this film is a direct result of a talented first-time director trying to get in every $5 bit he ever saw in the movies, just in case he never gets another crack at it. Thank goodness for “Pulp Fiction”.
The risks he took with the all-star cast, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Michael Masden, Chris Penn, Tim Roth and Lawrence Teirney, are plentiful. There are lots of long shots, lots of shouting, lots of improv. There is also lots of pop music interfering with the long shots, the shouting and the improv. In spite of all that, it works a good deal of the time, mainly because he was patient with his actors. That says a lot for a young first-timer.
The 15th anniversary edition packaging is impressive. The two-disk set comes in a tin gas can, and the DVD sleeve is a giant matchbook. That’s cool and a lot of effort for something that’s come out right after the 10-year anniversary special. True Tarantino fans will gobble this up, even though there isn’t any new material. –Dina Losito
“Down to the Bone”
Hart Sharp Video
“Down to the Bone” is as much fantastically depressing as it is fantastically compelling. Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of a working class mom, Irene, won the 2004 Sundance and 2005 LA Film Critics’ best actress award.
Irene’s cocaine addiction that once got her through the day as a grocery store cashier, soon gets out of control. She checks into a rehab that’s about as appealing as a Siberian prison, There she meets Bob (Hugh Dillon), a male nurse. Meanwhile, Irene’s husband is so threatened by her attempt at sobriety, he constantly sabotages it. This pushes her into a relationship with Bob.
The ensemble performances are superbly under played. You feel like you’re watching a documentary. Farmiga’s portrayal of the isolation and emptiness her character goes through starts out as riveting, but ultimately ends up as dismal. Director Debra Granik’s film has so much gritty realism you can almost smell it, capturing the dead-end cycle of low-brow living that exists everywhere in this country.
The story becomes a redundant battle between Irene and Bob who both seem to fall off the wagon as many times as they try to get clean, and in the end it’s just a frustrating journey of two people who can never seem to get it together. The harshness of this story shot in the bleak backdrop of upstate New York is what ends up making this film a relentless trip to nowhere. –Dina Losito