Tuesday, July 22, 2008

#24: Brick


Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Rian Johnson
Released April 7, 2006

"You're gonna make me curious, being so curious."

Imagine a sort of alternate universe, very much like ours, where high school plays out like The Maltese Falcon or a pulpy Dashiell Hammett novel (note: a wise reader pointed out/caught me with my pants down: Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon; he also pointed out my incorrect use of the word pulpy, and I agree with him, but damn me if I'm gonna change it). Where kids speak in a mixture of slang and staccato that makes them sound like they stepped right out of Casablanca and onto the football field.

Brick takes place in that universe, combining the drama of teen life (drugs, popularity, manipulation) with the twists and turns of classic film noir (doublecrossings, femme fatales). Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a star making performance as an outcast student named Brendan Frye who turns private eye after discovering the body of his murdered ex-girlfriend.

(It's here that I must mention, as a side note, my proposal that Joseph Gordon-Levitt take on the role of The Joker if a third Batman sequel calls for a return of the character. Levitt looks similar to Ledger, and proves in this movie that he has the chops to take on the challenge of continuing in Ledger's footsteps.)

Moving and speaking like a modern day Sam Spade, Frye wastes no time digging deep into the "case," pissing off all the right underworld figures to get to the bottom of this murder mystery. Be sure the volume on your television is up, because the dialogue comes so fast that you'll barely have time to decipher what is being said in most of the scenes. This challenge can be somewhat frustrating at times, but just be calm and don't be afraid to hit that Rewind button if needed. (Or, use the link provided below to download your own copy of the script.)

Shot for under $500,000 in 20 days, Brick is bursting at the seams with style and substance, with some great unexpected performances from Lucas Haas and even Richard Roundtree (the original Shaft). The soundtrack is exceptional, calling to mind not only classic film noir music but also the sounds of Sergio Leoni-style Spaghetti Westerns.

For a first film, writer/director Rian Johnson does something extraordinary here, putting a new twist on a genre movie. I can't wait to see where this guy goes next.

Here's looking at you, kid.

For more on Brick:
- More information at IMDB
- The official movie site
- Check out downloadable PDFs of the script, the original novella, and more. You will probably need to consult this after, or even during, your viewing, just to make sure you've got the details straight.
- Buy the DVD at DVD PriceSearch

The trailer, at YouTube:


sh said...


I'm really enjoying this blog for both the concept and the writing. Keep up the good work!

A note of pedantry: Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon.

A note of opinion: I wouldn't call Hammett's work pulpy.

A note of thanks: I added Brick to my Netflix queue, and moved it to position #2.

Dylan Gaughan said...

You are such a dick.


See what I did there?