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…
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…
"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…
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.
This movie was so damn amazing. It was so well put together too, especially considering the budget.
Flawed, yet still stunning, Brick feels like Encyclopedia Brown meets Traffic. Except the characters are high school kids playing grown-up, which lends an additional uncomfortable layer to all the talk of heroin and violence. Maybe it's a testament to my own flaws, but these are characters that, even with the highly stylized filter, I connect with. Especially loner-slash-lover-slash-detective Brendan. I maaaay have added an extra half-star for the frequent screen time given to the gorgeous Nora Zehetner.
It's Film Noir, Charlie Brown!
Writing a paper on this film for my cinema studies class, so I'll post that when I finish it. But damn, this film gets better with repeated viewings. I'm going to watch it a couple more times, so we will see what juicy details I can scrounge up.
part of Alphabet Challenge, Round 1
the movie: young joseph gordon-levitt finds his ex-girlfriend dead in a storm drain and dives head-first into his high school's crime ring to figure out who killed her.
it's a hardboiled detective film noir about a group of high schoolers directed by rian johnson (from whom i've already seen Looper and some damn good episodes of Breaking Bad).
my idea going in was "what's not to love?" and while the film isn't perfect, there really isn't a lot here not worth at least appreciating.
plenty of solid performances. quality cinematography. turns out that film noir cliches fit perfectly into high schooler-types. who'da thunk it?
paced perfectly, after the opening scene you're right into the…
Great Neo-Noir Film
Initially, the mix of film noir and high school movie seemed strange, but I think this film definitely pulled it off. The movie fit both genres extremely well - providing a believable high school atmosphere, full of cliques and devoid of adults, while at the same time presenting a gritty world full of hard characters and mysterious intentions.
While Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a definite stand out as the films protagonist, the whole cast do a solid job. It seemed like high school students producing lines that belong in a 1940s noir film could have come across as silly, however I felt like everyone held it together well and sold the concept.
That being said - it felt like the ambigous…
Rian Johnson is such a boss. I'm incredibly curious about what he will do with "Star Wars."
This was the first film I watched after moving to my new apartment.
I actually liked this better the second time. I guess I just picked up on more things.
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
- Donnie Darko
- Morvern Callar
- Irma Vep
- Miami Blues
- Babe: Pig in the City
For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- Teen Wolf
- The Breakfast Club
- American Pie
[after his parents have left, thinking he is ill] "They bought it. Incredible! One of the worst performances of my…