Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
A detective story.
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
It's really quite amazing what Rian Johnson can do with an incredibly limited budget. Brick is nothing if not creative—it may utilize genre conventions, but it does so in a unique way. As a lover of inventive cinematography the biggest standout for me was the framing: everything is shot from an extremely low angle, and many characters are defined as much by their shoes as anything else (and speaking of signature imagery, there's a pervasive fear of garbage bags running through the film that definitely gave me chills once or twice). The editing is also phenomenal, constantly pushing the envelope and using every trick in the book to keep you on your toes. The dialogue's snappy imitation-noir…
If there are two types of movies that have been done to death, it's noir pastiche and high school movies. But, in one of the great bits of movie alchemy, Rian Johnson takes these two subgenres and smashes them up with the reckless abandon of someone who doesn't seem to care if anyone likes it or not, even though we all know that's impossible.
Johnson and the cast are all smart enough to know that a conceit like this will work best if it's played completely straight, and with the exception of one (arguably 2) scene(s), it is. And amusement at the idea of high school students living out a Dashiell Hammett nightmare eventually gives way to genuine and shattering…
It's not often we get to see a debut film that is made with such verve, one that truly stands out daring to be so unique. As a whole it is very much a film that delivers style over any meaningful content but what style it turns out to be. This fast talking, sharply edited modern noir appears to constantly challenge itself scene after scene, seeing if it can continue to raise expectations.
The details of the plot are almost impenetrable, the basic premise being that a spectacle wearing loner called Brendan (a rather downsized and far more agreeable Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is attempting to trace an ex-girlfriend who has asked for his help. Beyond that it's a case of suburban…
"Whatever befalls you I'll deal with. Just tell me about the trouble with the brick, the pin."
Brick is writer and director, Rian Johnson's, feature debut which he delivered with great craftsmanship and an original and unique vision. Despite having seen Looper first, I think Brick is still Johnson's best film and most impressive one. It has a very original and smart concept which I haven't seen played out so well an any other film. Brick has all the classic noir conventions of films from the 30's like The Maltese Falcon, but it is set in a very different and drastic manner. So in a way Brick has a similar mood and atmosphere of classic film noir, but by setting…
So now we've shaken the tree. Let's wait and see what falls on our heads.
Brick is a film that shouldn't work.
It actually took me a few tries to get fully submerged into Rian Johnson's bleak neo noir high school drama thriller. Yes, all those words belong in the same sentence.
I've tried several times to watch Brick but every one of those times I've been distracted, disengaged, or the film just failed to pull me in. I finally powered through the film last night and I feel incredibly silly for not being able to finish it. Brick is one of those films whose clawed grip only sinks deeper into your flesh and fills your veins with colder and…
A modern day film noir, but at high school with teenagers. And surprisingly, it works.
Do you remember what high school was like? That was the whole universe. There was nothing beyond it. Nothing. The way the film utilizes these desolate sports fields and empty car parks, as if to suggest there is no life and no world beyond the California hills that frame nearly every setting...clever stuff. There is also the complete lack of the adult beyond the most simple archetype: the mother and the principle, and the fact that, while most of the characters are students seen in or around the school, we never see anyone doing anything even remotely close to school work. To the characters, this is the real world, as the real world is to a detective in the true old film noirs.
A tremendous amount of thought went into this story, and that hard work definitely raises this above a simple gimmick.
Rian Johnson is such a genius. His Brick is LA Confidential meets The Doom Generation and it's beyond surprising to me that this was his first feature. It's also one of the films that helped me first fall in love with then indie god JGL.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Gets better every time I see it. On first viewing I thought it was an assured, if gimmicky, genre exercise, like something Max Fischer would make if he ever became a fimmaker. The more I watch it, the deep, aching sadness at the heart of this film becomes more and more penetrating. Almost every scene is anchored by Joseph Gordon-Levitt's heartbreakingly understated performance and that magnificent score. Every time I hear a new version of "Emily's Theme", played with different instruments and evoking a slightly different tone each time, my heart sinks and I'm completely absorbed into this world that Johnson and co have created, high school setting be damned. Every character is putting on a facade, a shield to…
Great neo-noir. The story is very good. It keeps you guessing right to the end. The mood that is set is done really well. The dialogue is brilliant but it's the performances that make it work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfectly cast, as are the rest of the cast. The music is beautiful and the sound design is involving. A fun ride.
Brick is a high school neo-noir. Just based off the concept alone, I like this movie already.
Brick is Rian Johnson's debut film. The only other one of his movies I've seen is Looper. I didn't flat out love it or anything, but liked it, I thought it was good. And I would describe Brick the exact same way.
Although Brick could have been a colossal failure due to the low production budget, it was saved by its "wink-wink" attitude. I would say that the beginning does take itself a bit to seriously. But it does eventually become more laid-back and self-aware of the general concept of the movie, as it does seem to a sink more and more into…
A fast paced high school detective thriller that's entertaining, even when it's not completely clear what's going on
Brick is an homage to Dashiell Hammett novels, and it works very well for the most part. The setting is changed to an high school, and the main character is entertaining not only due to his similarity to the typical "hard boiled detectives", but also due to the flaws that are presented, as his hatred for the world has only alienated the people he loves, and to them being victims of what he was trying to protect them from in the first place.
The high school setting also gives this type of story a new perspective, however, it's a bit of a…
Can't say much without wanting to talk spoilers, but this is a damn unique and awesome film.
I'm a sucker for cool language, so I really dug the stylized dialogue in this. Some of the terms I was a bit fuzzy on, and had to look up in the glossary while I was watching, but I mostly understood everything that was going on. The plot, though complex, was fairly easy for me to get, though I wanted more depth. It ended too soon for me, which is usually the sign of a great movie for me. The showy camera was very well-suited for the movie, and there are some scenes (the footrace through the school standing out) where I was blown away by the technical creativity. The acting was fairly solid, with Gordon-Levitt and the guy playing…
With each viewing this film gets better and I’m able to notice even more of the ingenuity Rian Johnson employs in terms of stylistic and technical craft. Not only is it stylistically innovative (for any film, most especially because of its neo-noir repurposing of source content) but technically brilliant in the way of cinematography as well as editing.
The cinematography of Steve Yedlin heavily utilizes low-angle shots: in almost every one-on-one conversation our protagonist Brendan Frye has with some form of authority figure there are multiple low-angle shots to establish the imposing nature of characters such as the Vice Principal and the Kingpin. To blatantly contrast this, almost all shots with Frye’s informant (the Brain) are high-angle to emphasize his…
For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
[after his parents have left, thinking he is ill] "They bought it. Incredible! One of the worst performances of my…