Stand Off

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Reservoir Bitches

A series of bank raids has local police baffled: ‘The Executives’ specialize in slick, swift in and outs, never over-reaching themselves. They’re also very well-dressed, which might actually be a clue, since these four robbers are women, under veteran criminal Fox (Evans). But all is not well in this gang of thieves, with some seeking a bigger score. Matters come to a head when they find a cop (Lombardi) nosing around their headquarters, and a tracking device attached to their van – all signs point to an informant within the gang, Is someone seeking to take over from Fox? Or is Fox herself tired of her accomplices? Let the accusations – and the bullets – fly.

The obvious touchstone can be found in the brief summary above, though clocking in at a crisp 61 minutes, the script does avoid the rambling on about tipping, the meaning of Madonna songs and the other verbal diarrhea which bog just about all of Tarantino’s scripts down. It’s ironic – presumably deliberately – that the Executives explicitly state they take inspiration from the likes of Point Break, while appearing to be blissfully ignorant of the closest parallel for their actual situation. I note that Notarile’s Blinky Productions, as well as original films, make fan films using characters such as Daredevil or Snake Plissken. This feels a little too close to a fan tribute to Reservoir Dogs; given my general skepticism over Tarantino (Kill Bill 1 aside), that’s a mixed blessing.

However, there’s still plenty to enjoy here, even for a Quentinophobe like myself. Notarile has a very good eye for action, directing it with a crisp efficiency that clearly captures what’s going on, generating tension and urgency. The bank-robbery which opens proceedings, for instance, would not be out of place in any Hollywood movie, it’s that slick. Similarly, the gunplay never succumbs to the sloppily-shot mentality, where the only way to figure out what’s going on, is to count the bodies afterwards and see who’s missing. The performances are also solid, with Evans and Santiago the most impressive, though all the characters are drawn and fleshed out effectively.

On the down side, there’s some plot holes that stood out. For instance, why do the gang simply dump the cop in a room, not bothering to handcuff him to anything? And why does he attach a tracker to the van? He has an informant, just ask her where their hide-out is. Something also felt fractionally “off” about the editing of the dialogue. The pacing and rhythm was sometimes weird, as if the conversations were spliced together from multiple different takes, and as a result, don’t always flow as they should.

All told, however, these are small quibbles, and the bottom line is: we enjoyed it. Someone should give Blinky enough money for a proper movie – but I suspect, Notarile will likely keep on making films, whether anyone does or not! I’ll be looking out for them.

[Director Chris Notarile emailed us to say, “The reason why the tracking device was on the van at all was pretty simple. It was part of Cole’s plan. If he were to call the cops in, and ______ (spoiler!) was going to be his informant, it would be best if he made it look as official as possible. A tracking device seemed cooler than him just randomly knowing or popping up. As for him being locked up, the girls didn’t think he’d break free the first time, but he did – thus Fox cuffed him the second time.]

Dir: Chris R. Notarile
Star: Mandy Evans, Kim Santiago, Kerri Miller, Roberto Lombardi

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