Jewish Journal

LACMA Script Reading Reservoir Dogs

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

February 17, 2012 | 12:37 am

I went to my second script reading series for Film Independent at LACMA. Jason Reitman directed an all African American cast reading the script for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.  Terrence Howard was so funny, he almost out-shined Laurence Fishburne in a cast that included Cuba Gooding Jr. and Anthony Anderson.  Naturally, I almost fell all over myself when I got to chat with Elvis Mitchell of KCRW’s The Treatment fame. 

It was interesting that when Elvis was introducing the film, he commented that a lot of African Americans thought the dialogue in the film reflected “how black people talk.”  Of course, most of us when we saw the film back in the day, didn’t think much about the race, but that clearly was the point of Reitman’s casting.  In a movie where the characters are named Mr. Brown and Mr. White and they talk about how much they like Black actresses, we were forced to think about how the race of the characters changed the story when the robbers become African American.  The think that was most interesting was how the relationship between the group of robbers and the police takes on a new dimension.  When the three robbers beat up a police officer, trying to get him to give up the name of the rat, it’s suddenly three black criminals beating up on the LAPD and in some way, it almost over complicates the film.  It was an interesting experiment but the thing that of course is most interesting in the movie and in the script are the relationships between the men as they try to find out who amongst them is a liar.  And because either way, the race between the robbers is the same, it didn’t seem to affect the story as much as I thought it would.  In any case, it was a very exciting evening.  How often do you get to watch Terrence Howard read a script where his character gets shot and he’s having so much fun playing a crazed psycho he looks at the audience, breaking character to say “but I’m not ready to die, yet.”  Movie magic.

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Tamara Shayne Kagel is a twenty-something fixture on the Los Angeles scene currently living in Santa Monica.  Currently, Tamara is a successful freelance writer (just ask her...

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