My 100 favourite films. Entry #31: Brick.

Brick (2005)
written and directed by Rian Johnson
starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner and Lukas Haas
country: usa
genre: drama

Visuals: 7
Writing: 10
Everyday watchability: 5

Some films get by on great acting. Others get by on great direction. Some films, such as Sweet Smell of Success and Brick, are so immaculately written, as to leave no question about the filmmaker's intention. This isn't to say that Brick isn't well-directed and well-acted. It is both of those things. But it's acted and organized in such a way that the dialogue is always taking center stage. It's found the right balance between the word and the screen (like David Mamet when he made House of Games), but doesn't let the viewer lose interest in the visuals (like David Mamet when he made The Spanish Prisoner). Whereas the dialogue in Brick is verbose and laden with metaphors, euphemisms and clever turns of phrases, the cinematography is straight-forward, peppered with just enough dashes of flair and points of detail to keep it interesting. Instead of grand sweeping shots and panoramic vistas, we get close-ups of slamming phones, contemplative frames of a dead girl's hair swirling in the water and hands solving a Rubik's cube.

The movie is the story of a high schooler played by a 20-something investing the murder of his ex-girlfriend between classes. He takes a page from Dashiell Hammett with his speech, referencing regular high school stuff while talking drugs and murder. It's a world where 26 is considered old and the drug kingpin's mom brings him a cookie and makes corn flakes for his hostages. When he goes to visit the vice principal, he says, "I don't want you to come kicking in my homeroom door because of something I didn't do."

Sometimes the words are so dense that almost nothing sticks. "Look, I can't trust you. You ought to be smart enough to know that. I didn't shake up the party to get your attention, and I'm not heeling you to hook you. Your connections could help me, but the bad baggage they bring could make it zero sum gain or even hurt me. Better coming at it clean." These lines are spouted off rapid-fire, making it nigh on impossible to get every reference the movie makes. It's not completely out of reach however. With time and patience, everything pretty much adds up. Well, most everything. I suppose it's my nature to love movies I don't completely understand.


2 comment(s).:

December 16, 2009 at 1:06 PM Sea of Love... ...forthelackofwords said...

you're coming to vancouver!!!
it's going to be SOMETHING ELSE.

December 20, 2009 at 9:48 AM Sea of Love... ...forthelackofwords said...


I just realized that i have SEEN this movie.

I think I should watch it AGAIN.

maybe when you're here, teresa and I will make popcorn for everyone.