Tribeca Film Festival review: Reservoir Dogs 25th anniversary

Director Quentin Tarantino recalls 'happiest moment of his life;' cast discusses improvisation on set

Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, and Michael Madsen joined Quentin Tarantino, middle, for a 25th anniversary screening at Tribeca Friday night. — Steve Coulter photo

Something as iconically brutal as Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is bound to have its share of detractors, but who knew horror genius Wes Craven was one of them.

Tarantino revealed that fact to a crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival Friday night after the 25th anniversary screening of his first feature film in its original 35mm print.

According to the Academy Award-winning writer, Craven walked out of the screening of Reservoir Dogs early.

“I guess it was too tough for him,” Tarantino told moderator and New York Times critic Lynn Hirschberg.

Toughness is a quality that nobody associated with Reservoir Dogs lacks, and that’s what made the festival’s “Retrospective” dialogue such a laugh riot.

Four of the film’s principal cast members — Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Steve Buscemi — joined Tarantino on the Beacon Theater stage to discuss everything from the film’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival back in 1992 to the improvisation that went into Madsen’s classic “Stuck In The Middle With You” torture scene dance.

Oh, and if you were wondering whether Tarantino harbors any resentment towards those who bet against him — like the late Wes Craven — all those moons ago, he still remembers counting the number of people who walked out during the movie’s press tour.

The highest for a single screening? That would be 33.

But resentment aside, the legendary independent film director shared some sentiment with the crowd: the turning point in his life was when he drove from his mom’s house in Glendale for a cast dinner at Keitel’s house (a name Tarantino still can’t pronounce correctly in 2017) in Malibu. It was at that dinner where he realized how serious the actors took his violent script, and he felt liberated from all his previous doubts.

“I just need to keep the movie in focus,” he recalled. “The guys were all cake. I just needed to bring the frosting.”

Tarantino said that the drive home from Malibu to Glendale was “the happiest moment of my life.”

“I knew this was going to work out — making movies in general, not just ‘Reservoir Dogs.’”

In the world of cops and robbers, intimidation is a common theme, so it’s only fitting that the director and his eclectic cast — hailing from all parts of the globe, from London (Roth) to New York City (Buscemi) to Los Angeles (Keitel) — felt the same sense of inferiority surrounding the film’s launch in the early 1990s.

“I was so intimidated by it,” Madsen said of the unrehearsed jig in the torture scene. “I didn’t know if I could do it. In the script, it just said, ‘Mr. Blonde dances maniacally around the cop.’ What does that mean? Then I suddenly recalled a dance that I saw James Cagney do in a movie — I can’t remember which one. It just popped into my head, and that’s what I decided to do.”

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