In a way I hate to see the end of this dilemma series. I mean, sure, I’ve been getting the butt-end of most of them. Our last few dilemmas (2001 vs. A Clockwork Orange, Psycho vs. Vertigo, Ernest Goes to Camp vs. Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam) have all seen me leading an uphill charge against conventional wisdom. You’d think getting thrashed in the polls week after week would dampen my spirit, but no! I welcome the Herculean task of opening your minds to reasoned argument. Besides, who doesn’t love an underdog? Even 7-2 offsuit sucks out on wired aces every once in a while.
Still, there’s only so much arguing that can be done about a format before you move on. It’s hard not to get excited about the Classics of Theater dilemma series, even if we are starting with The Checkov Dilemma, which Turian will ruin either by calling for Nuclear Wessels or by demanding that someone throw a pie.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. My job is to walk you through the reasons why you’d have to have a railway spike through your head to pick Reservoir Dogs above Pulp Fiction. I don’t mean to suggest that you’re all mentally deficient, rather that you’re stuck to an antiquated way of thinking. And as far as sticks in the mud go, you’ll find none stickier than”Iron” Mike Turian.
Lucky for me, I’m at a huge advantage this time. Of course, Mike knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so rather than rise to the challenge, he’s going to try to pull the wool over your eyes with a practiced display of bufoonery. Do not be fooled: He is, in fact, as stupid as he seems.
As far as casting goes, there isn’t even a question. Both films have Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth, and if you like Mister White more than Mister Wolf you might just be History’s greatest monster. What else does Reservoir have? Steve Buscemi phoning in another case of the jitters? Me, I’d rather have Samuel L. playing John”Jules” Shaft in this understated prequel. We also get to see John Travolta show what became of Vincent”Vega” Barbarino after Welcome Back, Kotter. Don’t get me started on Michael Clarke-Duncan as mob boss Ving Rhames.
That’s all well and good, but what about dialogue? Here again Pulp Fiction has the advantage. Not that I’m disparaging Reservoir Dogs’s diner scene. Far from it. It’s an excellent scene and you’ll rarely hear Tarantino himself say”dick” so many times. But if you like that, how can you say no to arguing over the price of hamburgers in Belgium, or the story of how Bruce Willis’s father (played by none other than Christopher Walken) stole a watch from the Viet Cong to give to his infant son? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Reservoir Dogs features no mentions of The Fonz.
There’s still more bad news for Reservoir Dogs fans. Not even the might of the K-Billy Supersounds of the Seventies Weekend can stand up to Pulp’s surf-punk soundtrack headed up by The Red Elvises. Also, Pulp is an hour longer, meaning there’s”more to love” (a term Mike is intimately familiar with).
I don’t know, maybe I’m the crazy one. Doubtless the polls will swing towards Mike’s abundant center of gravity. I beg you: Think before you vote.
The Tarantino Pick Order
1. Jackie Brown
Tarantino’s Magnum Opus. It’s the same old story, anytime a successful director deviates from his”formula” he gets booed off the stage. Well not by me.
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Reservoir Dogs
4. Four Rooms – The Man from Hollywood
It’s not worth sitting through the whole movie, but that’s what Fast Forward is for.
5. Kill Bill, Vol. 1
I don’t see what all the hype is about. I expect this to fall in people’s estimation once the initial thrill has worn off.