Reservoir Dogs

29 04 2008

The last f—ing movie we f—ing studied in f—ing media class was f—ing Reservoir Dogs, which we f—ing watched to-f—ing-day.  Reservoir f—ing Dogs was written and directed by f—ing Quentin Tarantino.  It’s also the most f—ing recently released of the movies we have watched as a f—ing class.

OK, I’m going to stop swearing, it’s getting f—ing ridiculous.

Anyway, the movie begins with eight sharply-dressed men sitting in a restaurant, joking around and discussing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, and whether or not it’s necessary to tip the waitress.  Their names are Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr Blue (Edward Bunker), Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino – yes, he really is a jack of all trades, that one), Joe (Lawrence Tierney) and “Nice Guy” Eddie (Chris Penn), and they are about to attempt a heist.  Then we are treated to a now-iconic (so iconic I recognised it despite never having seen it before) scene of the team walking down the street to the sound of the George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag”.  Then the titles play.

When the titles stop, the heist is over, and the survivors are trying to work out what went wrong.  One of them must have set them up.  So who’s the rat?

I expect most people have a rough idea of what to expect from a Tarantino movie.  This one ticks all the boxes for non-linear storytelling, bloody violence, a memorable script, plenty of awareness of older films and popular culture, and liberal swearing; depending on your tastes this combination likely makes it either one of the greatest films of all time or an utter f—ing mess.

Reservoir Dogs is only superficially similar to GoodFellas.  They certainly exist in similar worlds, dark and violent, with guns, gangsters, heists and drug dealing.  However, the narratives unfold very differently.  Whereas GoodFellas is mainly told in chronological order (apart from a brief scene at the start), Reservoir Dogs makes frequent use of flashbacks to tell its narrative.  Also, while GoodFellas takes place over several decades, the main plot of Reservoir Dogs all unfolds within the space of about an hour.  Like GoodFellas, Reservoir Dogs has a very good soundtrack (although it’s going to be a while before I’m going to be able to hear “Stuck in the Middle With You” again without shuddering).

One aspect of the film that makes it so impressive was that it was independantly made with an unusually low budget.  Despite this, it manages to look highly polished and professional, give or take the odd shaky tracking shot or fluffed line.

I found Reservoir Dogs to be both highly intelligent and immersive.  However, I did find the sadism and racism displayed by the characters to be unpleasant viewing, so I can’t honestly say that I particularly enjoyed the movie.  It was OK, though.

Current listening: Eagles, “Journey of the Sorceror”.



22 04 2008

GoodFellas is a gangster movie, based on the true story of real-life mobsters Henry Hill, James Burke and Thomas DeSimone.

It follows the rise and decline of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), an Irish-Italian American who wants to be a gangster and goes to work for local mob boss Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino).  Along with two friends, the more experienced Irish-American mobster Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and psychopathic killer Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), Henry commits various crimes and becomes very successful.

The movie is one of the best paced films I’ve seen, with pretty much no superfluous scenes (I suspect it may have been ruthlessly edited for this very purpose), although it nevertheless runs to well over two hours in length.  It grabs your attention and doesn’t let go; once you start watching, you’re on board for the whole duration.

The soundtrack is particularly good, with memorable songs by a variety of artists including the Crystals, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, Cream, and the Rolling Stones.

One downside of the film, to my mind, was the absence of any particularly likeable characters.  Just about all the main characters are violent criminals; Conway is a cold blooded murderer, and DeVito is absolutely vicious, and arguably one of the scariest characters I’ve seen in film – all the more so because his personality and actions were closely based on those of a real person.

In terms of this film’s status as a gangster movie… well, there can be no question, really.  It’s full of gangsters, it’s all about the gangster lifestyle, and terms like “made man” and “heist” are present and correct.  And of course, the mise-en-scène includes suits, guns, knives, gloomy streets, fancy bars… it’s very much a gangster film.

So, is it my favourite film?  Certainly not.  But would I recommend watching it?  Most definitely.  This is a movie everybody ought to see.  Well, providing you don’t mind the violence, which is often brutal.  Oh, and the swearing – the characters swear all the time.  Those naughty boys.

Next up: Reservoir Dogs.  *Gulp*

Current listening: The Cat Empire, “Protons, Neutrons, Electrons”.

Lazy Bobby!

19 04 2008

I haven’t posted in a while, but I do have the excuse that we kept getting disconnected from the Internet.  Also, it’s been a very boring week, with very little going on.  I’ve been in the kind of apathetic state where I know I should be doing something, but I don’t feel up to it.  Or, to use the vernacular phrase, I couldn’t be arsed.  Yes, I do realise this amounts to nothing more than laziness, but hey, I never said I was perfect.

Just to prove how lazy I am, I’m not going to do a media studies post today.  Instead, I’d like to recommend a post written by a fellow blogger, dissfunktional, who has written a post about the people who put the information online that the powers that be don’t want you to know about.  I heartily recommend that you check it out.

So what have I been up to?  The usual… reading, writing, catching up with webcomics, watching Doctor Who (next episode in ten minutes!), general nerding, etc.  The other day I went to the theatre (not something I do often) to see an adaptation of Michael Frayn’s Spies, which was excellent, even though I didn’t much like the book.

So, anyway, I have to go peel some potatos.

Current listening: Moby, “Machete”.

MEPs reject anti-piracy proposal

11 04 2008

As reported by the BBC, European politicians have rejected the plans to throw suspected file-sharers and illegal downloaders off the Internet, because they were deemed to infringe on “civil liberties and human rights”.  This narrow vote is not legally binding, which means that individual governments (e.g. France and the UK) can still implement anti-piracy laws if they see fit.

The battle wages on.

Current listening: King Crimson, “Fallen Angel”.

Obtained legally, on CD, naturally.

“Spring Break” sucks!

5 04 2008

No, not the holiday, the phrase, silly!  I mean, Easter was only a bank holiday weekend.  We’re having our Easter Holidays now, but how can they be Easter Holidays if they don’t involve Easter?

Some of my more secular, less traditional friends pointed out that there’s no reason we can’t celebrate Easter now, eggs and all, but it wouldn’t be the same, and I’ve already had Easter.

So, what to call this holiday?  One girl at school (a somewhat, er, unusual year 12 girl) has taken to referring to it as Spring Break.  Several teachers were using the phrase as well, but it just feels kind of weird, like some strange American, PC thing.  “Spring Break”.  “Spring Break”.  I don’t know, it’s just not something that rolls off the tongue easily, probably because this holiday has always been the Easter Holidays, as long as I can remember.  Some people at school were actually calling it Half Term, even though that’s something completely different!

So, anyway, it’s “Spring Break”, and I’m in a bit of a random mood, as you probably guessed.

It was rather a shock logging onto WordPress the other day and discovering that they’ve changed the dashboard screen (that’s the behind the scenes stuff that readers don’t see).  The new design is probably easier to use, but it’s less easy on the eye, dominated by pastel oranges and blues.  I also miss having a link to the forums on the dashboard.  I expect I’ll get used to it.

Anyway, I haven’t seen GoodFellas yet.  We were going to be watching it in class, but a certain teacher couldn’t be bothered to show up to teach us.  Perhaps I’ll be able to borrow a copy from a friend, but otherwise I’ll have to wait until the holidays are over.

Oh and, almost forgot: DoctorWhoseriesfourstartsinlessthananhour!!!

*Sighs*  I’m such a hopeless Doctor Who fanboy.

Current listening: Feeder, “Comfort In Sound”.