Video Picks Archive

July 19, 2000
This Week's Video Picks
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Reviews by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>

This week my picks are The War Zone (1999 - ) and Reservoir Dogs (1992 - ).

The first film is the directorial debut of acclaimed British actor Tim Roth, and it looks to be the start of a promising second career. Based on the novel by Alexander Stuart, The War Zone gives a harrowing account of a teenage girl (Lara Belmont) who is molested by her father (Ray Winstone), as told from the perspective of her younger brother (Freddie Cunliffe). Both siblings make impressive film debuts, especially Belmont, who give one of the best performances from last year. Due most likely to its graphic nature, this film never found proper distribution (even I didn't get a chance to see it in a theatre). It is definitely an excellent choice for a rental, and I hope the public will eventually discover this remarkable film. Most VHS copies of the film will be the R-rated version, but a special edition was also released with the unrated Director's Cut (which, of course, was unavailable at my local chain video store).

Roth is best known to American audiences for his roles in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and my second pick, Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino was working at a video store not too long before writing, directing, and acting in this film, his debut in all three areas. It follows the events after a diamond heist was pulled off badly by a motley crew of criminals, who only know each other by assigned code names. Harvey Keitel played Mr. White as the only major star in the film, but Roth as Mr. Orange and Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink were performances that brought them fame. Most surprising is Michael Madsen's brutal portrayal of Mr. Blonde, which should have pulled him out of the B-movie business (but unfortunately did not). Like the following Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs has been the victim of continual plagiarism, but remains a powerful moment in recent film history.

Update, 2/23/2002: In an unusual coup for artistic integrity, the R-rated version of The War Zone has been taken off the market, leaving only the director's cut.


For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The War Zone (1999)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
The War Zone (1999) -- VHS Widescreen
The War Zone (1999) -- DVD
Reservoir Dogs (1992) -- VHS
Reservoir Dogs (1992) -- VHS Widescreen
Reservoir Dogs (1992) -- DVD
Reservoir Dogs, a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino -- Paperback
Reservoir Dogs: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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