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Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino
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May 30, 08

bookshelves: screenplay

The screenplay. As in Pulp Fiction, the most character-revealing dialog comes off the subject—talking about the Madonna song, or not tipping. After the opening scene, the structure goes in two directions at once. What just happened to these guys and What's next? heads from present to the future. And how did all this get started? heads from present to past. The story moves forward working these two questions in alternating fashion: scenes of setup or scenes of climax. Ostensibly there's no point to the narrative: it's a jewel heist gone wrong with a Shakespeare like kill-em-all death scene at the end. The point of the screenplay is to be found in the content of the off-the-subject of the jewel heist conversations. Those conversations reveal that it is a satire of misogynist, racist, and pop-culture loving might-makes-right goodfellas. The satire is strange, however, because, who thinks highly of this type of criminal? So what's the text really doing? Attacking those same misogynist, racist, pop-culture loving beliefs in the mouths of whoever espouses them? Does that work? To the extent that the audience has a negative reaction to the misogynism and racism—perhaps. The tack seems to be to make it so obvious that even the subtle forms of those -isms pop out of the background. Okay, then, what does bathing that message in violence accomplish? Is that the image system? Equating misogyny and racism (and pop-culture?) with violence? Ergo, those behaviors are violence. Is that the point?
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