You’ll be scratching your head for the first three quarters of the film, but once you start to feel it’s cadence, and just give into it’s maverick ways, you’ll experience the best cinematic vacation one could hope for. But yes, you might still be scratching that head of yours for a couple of minutes on the drive home.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Meagan Good, Matt O’Leary, Noah Fleiss
I remember going to Indonesia a few years back, for the first time, initially unexcited. For the first week or so there, I was rather lost – spending most of my time trying to figure out the place, rather than simply enjoying what was on offer – and wondered what I’d got myself into. I soon begun to get a sense of the place though, became more comfortable to my surroundings, and eventually, started to settle in. By the time I started enjoying myself, it was time to leave.
Most will feel the same way watching newcomer Rian Johnson’s “Brick”. You’ll be scratching your head for the first three quarters of the film, but once you start to feel it’s cadence, and just give into it’s maverick ways, you’ll experience the best cinematic vacation one could hope for. But yes, you might still be scratching that head of yours for a couple of minutes on the drive home.
There’s films you can easily get away with walking ten minutes late into – say, a superhero flick, or something like “Die Hard” – and there’s films you can afford to be a good 20 mins or more late for – like “Top Gun”, speaking from memory, or an Adam Sandler comedy- and then there’s “Brick”, a film that doesn’t really matter what time you walk into it – be it at the very start, the first quarter or dead middle – because nobody is – regardless of how long they’ve been in auditorium – is going to be any the wiser as to what the heck is going on, than the tardy. Yep, it’s a mindf^#k all right – buy boy, does the headular penetration feel oh-so-good.
“Brick” is your typically convoluted murder mystery, but with the setting flipped from burnt-out private dicks, seasoned kingpins and by-the-book sergeants, to the schoolyard – where it’s teenagers that are caught up in the central mystery. Thing is, the youngsters act as if – and we’re not talking no “Bugsy Malone” bullshit, either – they are seasoned professionals of this harsh-world, especially our resigned hero, and the mobster-like thugs of the piece, instantly erasing the ‘age’ predicament from the setting. And it works. Never for a moment do you say to yourself, ‘Oh, sure, that kid’s only like 18 years old. As if!” – because it’s played out, and written, so honestly and meticulously.
Here’s a taste – but you’re only getting a taste, because it’s best experienced first hand – of the storyline: Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of “Third Rock from the Sun” fame) gets a worrying call from his ex-girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin, of “Lost”) that sends him on a frantic mission to find where she’s at…. and what she’s got herself into. With the help of friend, the Brain (Matt O’Leary), and the mysterious Laura (Nora Zehetner, of “Everwood”), he works from the cryptic clues he’s been given, to get to the bottom of the case.
Obviously influenced by – not only the classic detective films of the 40s and 50s, but – David Lynch’s eccentrically outstanding whodunit series “Twin Peaks”, “Brick” is as a cheap-as-chips Indy that’s essentially relying on it’s captivating storyline to hypnotise it’s audience. And it will. From its extremely well written dialogue, exciting set-ups, uniquely drawn characters and tasty pay-off, the words are pure gold. Johnson is clearly a man who knows how to write. (He’s definitely an actor’s writer too, giving the cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, and Lukas Haas, some chunky stuff to chew on),
The newcomer – essentially straight out of film school – proves himself a bit of a creative entrepreneur behind the camera too. Sure, he’s seemingly robbed some of his cool moves from shows like “Peaks” – the lingering shot at the ceiling fan, being one – but most of the time, he attempts the most creative and imaginative of shots, never going – and you couldn’t blame him if he did, considering the petite budget – the cheap route. In short, he’s done more with his mind, and moolah, than a major studio would’ve, given the same material. But then, would the studio be working from the same material? Probably not. They’d probably excise every strange, new, fresh element out of the thing and Hollywood-ize it to the point that the audience feels raped of an experience. Intercourse with the charming, intellectual, unknown is much more interesting.
“Brick” isn’t just the coolest film of the year, it’s one of the best films you’ll see this year. “Twin Peaks” meets “Veronica Mars” with a puzzle even more fun to piece together than “Da Vinci Code”. See it, with a notepad.
Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary with the director – who brings in most of the actors, one by one, to join him on the track – as well as several deleted scenes (most of them deserved to be edited out – you’ll see why) and some audition tapes. Not a bad offering.
Reviewer : Clint Morris
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