Brick (2005) - Spotlight Series
|Genre(s): Drama / Mystery|
|Focus Features || R - 110 minutes - $29.98 || August 8, 2006|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-08-14|
Writer(s): Rian Johnson (written by)
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Noah Fleiss, Matt O'Leary, Noah Segan, Meagan Good, Emilie De Ravin, Richard Roundtree
Theatrical Release Date: April 7, 2006
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Plot Outline (from back cover): Brendan Frye is a loner, someone who knows the angles but has chosen to stay on the outside. When the girl he loves turns up dead, he is determined to find the “who” and “why” and plunges into the dark and dangerous social strata of rich girl Laura, intimidating Tug, drug-addled Dode, seductive Kara, and the ominous Pin. But who can he really trust?
Going in, I knew virtually nothing about Brick other than it has been building up momentum as a great film on the Net. After the first 10-minutes, I saw why. It took time to get used to and accept what writer/director Rian Johnson was presenting with dialogue unheard of, combined with dialogue coming from high schoolers.
However, something did click and I realized that much like Baz Luhrmann gained notoriety from his Shakespeare adaptation in Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, Johnson does the same by turning the film noir genre on its head by modernizing it. While Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang also revitalized the genre, Brick manages to keep to the blueprint but not feel like a poser or like some experiment at the same time.
The cast is fairly anonymous outside of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but they all work well together and despite the strange, and forgotten, language, all of it is done seriously, without wink or nods that would be so easy.
With Mysterious Skin and now Brick, Gordon-Levitt seems to have overcome the TV sitcom stigma some young actors fall peril to and rather than playing the leading man, he instead takes serious roles that highlight the strange nature he seems to have. His performance in Brick is powerful and certainly one of the better ones of 2005, although he tended to mumble a few lines, making it difficult to understand everything.
The rest are all good, including Nora Zehetner, Meagan Good and a cameo from Richard Roundtree in a part that I’m still not sure what the purpose was. Knowing Brick plays by its own rules, Rountree’s Assistant Vice Principle is supposed to some kind of Sheriff using Brendan (and vice versa). Since when did an assistant VP have that much influence? OK, it’s a rhetorical question and doesn’t matter, but I found the character to be... interesting.
In any case, he and the rest of the cast have good chemistry and make this film noir update one of the better films and definitely one of the more memorable to come of late.
Brick is just an all around unusual film, one needed when all you see today are prequels, sequels, remakes or adaptations... and some of those aren’t very good. Nevertheless, I guess that makes movies like Brick all so much more enjoyable and appreciated. I’m not prepared to say it’s a classic or one of the best I’ve seen ever, but it is a film that any film noir fan will love.
Cast and Filmmakers Commentary - Writer/Director Rian Johnson tries something different, acting as a TV host with a rotating door of participants coming in and out throughout the picture. I will give him points for trying something new, but I still prefer everyone be in the same room if at all possible as they can bounce stories off each other. Commentators joining Rian Johnson were actors Nora Zehetner and Noah Segan, producer Ram Bergman and the production and costume designers.
The Inside Track: Casting the Roles (3:08) - The audition tapes for Nora Zehetner (Laura) and Noah Segan (Dode) are shown, acting out scenes and showcasing some good talent.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (22:26) - There are 8 deleted or extended scenes, with more extended. Rian Johnson explains in an introduction that there weren’t too many of these since the plot is so intricate. Each scene is preceded with an intro to talk about the scene and why it was cut or cut down. A couple scenes were cut from the Sundance edition, but all in all, I am glad these were out.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.85 aspect ratio. Rian Johnson’s film noir atmosphere is semi-grainy and looks quite good overall.
Realizing that this is an indie flick made for around $500k, I cut Brick some slack for poor sound quality, but even with that, the dialogue is good (though as I mentioned, Gordon-Levitt seemed to mumble a line here and there) and the odd music (matching the odd movie) is also nice, but nothing outstanding.
Brick is not going to be a movie for everyone, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting into. It’s not especially violent and although it has all the earmarks to be a cult classic with lines like “Maybe I'll just sit here and bleed at you,” so I can see this worthy of repeat viewings just for its uniqueness.