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The Fifth Reel: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction

Friday 11th, August 2017 / 13:00
By Morgan Cairns 

Close out the summer movie seasons with bloody style

CALGARY – As much as we hate to admit it, summer is coming to an end. Pretty soon, we will all be back to wearing long pants and drinking our beer indoors. But don’t fret; lucky for us, the Fifth Reel is closing out their summer programming in really the only acceptable way: a Quentin Tarantino double feature. They will be screening Tarantino’s first two flicks, Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), so put on your black suits and ties, grab a pre-show Royale with Cheese, and get ready for a blood-splattered good time.

A heist film where you never actually see the heist, Reservoir Dogs is a first of its kind. In Tarantino’s directorial debut, we see the events leading up to, and the inevitable aftermath, of a diamond heist gone wrong. Presented in Tarantino’s signature nonlinear style, the film opens on the morning of the heist in a diner where one of the robbers, codenamed Mr. Brown (played by none other than Mr. Tarantino himself), tries to convince the rest of the colourful band of thieves that Madonna’s 1984 pop classic “Like a Virgin” is really just a “metaphor for big dicks.” After mob boss and planner of the heist, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), pays the bill (with Mr.Pink [Steve Buscemi] having paid his “fair share” of the tip), the ramblers get ramblin’, and in an opening credit sequence for the ages, the gang takes a slow-motion walk out the diner set to the George Baker Selection’s ditty, “Little Green Bag.”

As the opening scene suggests, you can expect punchy dialogue with a generous helping of profanity, and a soundtrack chock full of seventies gems delivered to you via the fictional radio show “K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies” (voiced by comedian Stephen Wright). An indie-lover’s wet dream, Reservoir Dogs is easily one of the 20th century’s best directorial debuts (Take that, Citizen Kane!).

While Reservoir Dogs was the film that got Tarantino’s name out there, it was Pulp Fiction that cemented his name in cult status. Frequently regarded as Tarantino’s masterpiece, this neo-noir serves as a touchstone of nineties culture and can be found on every film-bro’s top ten list.

Equal parts crime and comedy, Pulp Fiction intertwines the stories of some of Los Angeles’ seediest residents through (another) nonlinear series of episodic events, sprinkled with a healthy dose of Tarantino’s signature witty dialogue, nonsensical blood splatter, and liberal use of the word “fuck.”

Mirroring the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, we drop in on a pair of criminals in an all-American diner preparing for their heist. A couple of small-time crooks, Pumpkin (Tim Roth) suggests to his girlfriend and partner in crime, Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), that restaurants would be a safer and more lucrative option to rob than the liquor stores and gas stations they usually stick-up. Just then, Honey Bunny jumps on the table and says, “Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of ya.” Cue the opening credits and Dick Dales and the Del-Tones’ “Miserlou.”

By the end of the film, we come around full circle and see just how that heist went down, along with three other interconnecting stories, including Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace’s (Uma Thurman) wild night out and Butch (Bruce Willis)’s run in with mob boss Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), all in an effort to recover his father’s watch. And, of course, we see the fate of poor mob informant Marvin. Poor, poor Marvin.

Echoing Reservoir Dogs in structure, style, quirk, and cast (with repeat performances from Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, and Steve Buscemi), Pulp Fiction is best viewed in immediate succession of its predecessor.

With Calgary’s favourite new-wave duo, Aiwass, serving as the night’s musical guest and improv group The Kinkonauts taking on hosting duties, this isn’t your average Friday night at the movies. And thank fucking god for that.  

The Tarantino double-feature can be seen August 18 at 9 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.

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