What’s better than a focus on two of Quentin Tarantino’s iconic films as these new releases are coated in crisp 4K UHD goodness? Looking back, it’s incredible to think that Reservoir Dogs was QT’d debut feature film, especially with that cast and a basic premise that twists and turns but carries the tension even to this day…
I hadn’t revisited Reservoir Dogs for quite a number of years now, and despite its 1992 release year, it remains ridiculously good, and as a relatively low budget film in that era, it holds up with its smart setup and the reverse reveal of the narrative. If, like me, it’s been while then now is the perfect time. This is a solid, cohesive piece of filmmaking and although we’ve come to learn that Tarantino always like his separate stories, it feels unusually refreshing to (basically) have everything in one simple place as the plot untangles.
If you know anything about Tarantino, you’ll appreciate his movie history obsession so although it does have an essence of many crime films gone before, this is what art is – a homage and a reinvention and a nod to all those talents along the way. The only thing that really dates is his obsession with the ‘n’ word, which more than clear here with a particularly white cast but, that being said, some of the conversation does fit the nature of the fictional characters.
Harvey Keitel played a key part in getting Reservoir Dogs made, he gives everything you could expect from someone who’s already a film legend, but it’s also every role that makes this memorable. Michael Madsen is pure suave, and golden Hollywood looks, so much so that you may have forgotten about his effortless coolness – despite the psychotic nature of his persona. And, with Keitel in the form of his life, there’s Steve Buscemi reminding us all why he’s always been so revered. He’s an enigma of an actor but knocks it out of the park.
And then, the thing that I’d almost neglected, the key role and performance of a young Tim Roth who, even at this point in his career, makes it genuinely iconic. As a group, they all raise each other up in both the cool, calm and chaotic conversations, right through to the gradual break down of everything. The dark comedy lingers throughout, the violence isn’t quite as intense as I remember but there’s enough blood for a Carrie-related scene, and it’s certainly a distinctive film to behold.
There’s some add-ons with the Blu-ray, but these weren’t the days of excessive special features, so it’s a selection of Deleted Scenes which gives Roth’s character more background plus ‘Cutting Off the Ear – Alternate Take A and Alternate Take B, and some small featurettes Playing It Fast and Loose, plus Profiling the Reservoir Dogs.
Reservoir Dogs is on limited edition 4K UHD + Blu-ray SteelBook now: https://amzn.to/3BKbBvZ
And then there was Pulp Fiction, the behemoth that threw Tarantino into the stratosphere. A film that arrived at the perfect time, with a killer script, an outstanding cast and one that defines a generation. This isn’t something that happens every day. It’s incomparable really in this sense. A generational moment. An iconic, classic film that’s quotable, packed with stand-out scenes and performances.
After the strong debut, writer and director Quentin Tarantino returned to deliver a captivating, engaging escapade into violence and redemption. The truth is, if you put Pulp Fiction on, then it’s incredibly hard to turn yourself away from it. That soundtrack soundtracked my life for a while, as for so many, and when the different scenes begin – you’ll know what’s being cued up and what’s coming but it’s there to immerse in. Somehow, almost every moment becomes your favourite scene but with continual forward motion.
And does the 4K UHD look crisp and clean? It definitely does. Although, the only thing with an older film is that away from 35mm, and a brighter transfer, some scenes feel more like a set and less earthy, but the famous nature of certain scenes transcend that. There’s also a few ‘back of the room’ type sound situations, as there is a Reservoir Dogs, but that just goes to show how we’ve got used to over-filtered sound, in the big films anyway – apart from Nolan, with his loud film-scores and quiet dialogue (and I like Nolan!).
And then there’s a genuinely A-List cast that includes John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken and Bruce Willis – plus a Steve Buscemi cameo, that’s easy to miss unless you’re paying attention – and we haven’t even got into the weaving vignettes that build the story, that take us off in different directions and gradually bring everything together to not only shock but laugh with, dance with and get deep within the mindset of the characters we’re watching. Pulp Fiction is timeless and that’s what makes it so extraordinary.
Also, on the extras, it’s fun to revisit and listen to the cast – with an especially fascinating insight from John Travolta, and how his role came to be, how QT loved the analytical side of Travolta and how that became part of the character, Vincent. There’s also a host of older ones to delve into and enjoy – all listed below!
Pulp Fiction 4K UHD is available to buy here: https://amzn.to/3GbXbaF
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray extras:
- Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat
- Here Are Some Facts on the Fiction
- Pulp Fiction: The Facts – Documentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Scenes Montages
- Production Design Featurette
- Siskel & Ebert “At the Movies” – The Tarantino Generation
- Independent Spirit Awards
- Cannes Film Festival – Palme d’Or Acceptance Speech
- Charlie Rose Show
- Marketing Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Still Galleries
- Enhanced Trivia Track
- Soundtrack Chapters