Friday, February 12, 2010

Brick. (2005) Rian Johnson

Brick is just plain fun. That's the easiest way to sum it up. I watched it twice with the subtitles on, and simply soaked into its classic noir language.

It's a hardboiled detective story set in a California high school. It's like Dashiell Hammett writing a script for the unknowable teens of Twin Peaks. There's a Bogart figure in Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who's been contacted by his ex who needs help. She's the "girl in distress," and represents well for the genre. There's also the femme fatale, the thug, the hired gun, and the Kingpin. These are the slum-like characters who operate in their underworld, in the day to day dealings of heroin in the streets. Of course, this is high school, and this is a murder mystery, so we also have the vice-principal and the cops to watch out for. But they're never in the picture too long -- the thrilling detective beats them to the scene every time.

The language of noir is so perfect in Brick. I just sat back in moments and let it soak into me. It's like listening to Shakespeare, it's a language all its own. It's foreign to us but there's a twist off the tongue that ignites like poetic kindling.

Brick felt a lot like Memento to me. It was fun, it was fresh --it wasn't necessarily new, but it was new in its approach to the style. It took Rian Johnson something like six long years after film school to get enough attention to his script for it to be made into a movie. Hats off to him. He had an idea, he wrote it down, he believed in it --it was worth believing in -- and he had a heck of an adventure in his directorial debut.

I've got his second film, The Brothers Bloom, lined up in my queue. I can't wait to see the direction he went next.

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