Dark Souls and Hollow Hearts
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Brick

2005 mystery film that takes place in a high school

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Wonderful qualities that sink....just like a brick

  • Feb 8, 2012
Rating:
-2
Film noir has to be one of my favorite genres in the realm of story weaving. As a mixture of crime drama, mystery, German expressionism, thriller, melodrama and even a few drops of horror film noir has had a presence in cinema since the 1940s.  I do not proclaim myself a film noir expert per se, but I have seen plenty of films in this category to be a fair judge of what is good and what is not.  The best analogy I have for this film is being on a date with a woman who is beautiful and dripping with sex appeal yet has no depth or substance whatsoever.
 
The 2005 film “Brick” would be considered a “neo-noir” film, mainly being a modern film noir omitting the “black and white” and some of the day old norms of the 1940s and 1950s. The plot revolves around Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a high school student who is trying to solve the disappearance/murder of his estranged girlfriend Emily.  Brendan jumps down an interesting “rabbit hole” and uncovers many layers in his quest to resolve this conundrum. The grapples or “layers” Brendan tackles consist, but are not limited to, drug dealers, police, murder, fights and the proverbial femme fatal.
 
These all seem like prolific standards for a noir film, yet I found this film to be rather lacking in cohesiveness and believability. The movie is about high school students, not one single scene involves a classroom.  In addition, these high school students in many ways act more like adults.  Another odd aspect about these “high school” students is their dialect is a hybrid of adolescent jargon and an anachronistic tongue of an era long gone. I do appreciate the ode to classic noir by having our “anti-hero” calling a girl; excuse me dame “angel” but it seems odd to have a high school student doing this.  To piggy back this notion; there is a scene where “The Pin”, a drug czar played by Lukas Haas, is having a meeting with his peers while his mother is serving snacks and drinks.  Perhaps this is black comedy but I found it totally preposterous.
 
Another problem area with this film is the opening scene. Technically, the framing and cinematography are breathtaking, as is the score.  Brendan is standing in front of a storm drain looking at Emily, who appears to be dead.  Then the scene cuts stating “two days prior”, I had the assumption that the opening of the film would also serve as the climax.  Sadly we the viewers are brought back to the storm drain scene within twenty minutes of the motion picture.  A perfect story set up ruined for the next ninety minutes seem bloated and expedited at the same time.
 
Furthermore, there were way too many characters in this movie and the cant and code names made it difficult at times to keep up with the story. Perhaps I felt this way because a vast majority of the dialogue was mumbled in this movie. Once the climax came and we the viewers figure out “who was behind it all” I felt somewhat let down.  It was as if the ending was too standard for a film noir.
 
On a positive note, the acting was very good. Joseph Gordon-Levitt did a really fine job as our anti-hero; with the material he was given, as did Nora Zehetner.  The mood was also very stark and bare, great for a film noir.  The lighting and cinematography was also on point.  As for the score, well let’s just say I purchased it as soon as the end credits were rolling.   The problem with this movie was the direction of the story.  The story was not bad but the execution was very lazy and lacked focus, which translated to a very elongated viewing. I personally feel that if the high school angle was omitted and/or reworked, the story became a bit more simplified and the ending wasn’t quite so trite this film could have been the standard all neo-noirs should live up to.
Wonderful qualities that sink....just like a brick Wonderful qualities that sink....just like a brick Wonderful qualities that sink....just like a brick

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February 17, 2012
Great review once again
February 17, 2012
Thank you very much. :)
 
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More Brick (2005 movie) reviews
review by . February 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Here's what the deal is: "I'll have my boys check your tale. Seeing how it stretches, we'll either rub or hire you. You'll know which by the end of the day tomorrow." And, "Drop me off at school."       Brick, an independent movie written and directed by Rian Johnson, is part stunt, part style and part energetic riff on gumshoe movies. Movie references are dropped like names but with more subtlety. It takes place in and around an affluent, …
review by . April 30, 2010
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Film noir was one of cinemas most popular and most profitable genre or it uses to be back in the last stretch of the golden years in Hollywood (1940-1950). The last neo-noir the golden era pushed out was Orson Welles "Touch of Evil"(1958)   while during its release, it was well received but it sadly failed to reignite the flame of a fading genre. Noir seemed almost dead   until   an up and coming director named Roman Polanski took on the dangerous task of …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
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A great modern film-noir. Joesph Gordon Levitt is Amazing. hard to think thats the kid for 3rd rock from the sun.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
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Creative and beautiful! The language is like no other movie I have seen, and I just love it.
Quick Tip by . April 29, 2010
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A potent mix of teen drama and film noir thrown into the modern day setting of a crime filled High school underworld
review by . December 23, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan
In up and coming director Rian Johnson's film Brick, audiences are treated to a truly unique and memorable mystery film. Inspired by the literary work of the great detective novel writer Dashiell Hammett, who is best known as the creator of Sam Spade and The Thin Man, Rian Johnson set out to create a hip, contemporary noir film. While simultaneously following in the footsteps of great mystery writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Johnson succeeds in revitalizing the detective genre …
review by . February 13, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: True indie look and feel, easy to like characters by and large      Cons: The story gets lost more than once, ending is sudden and tacked on.      The Bottom Line: It'd hard to recommend or say avoid.  It is ok and worth considering, beyond that . . . if you like any actor, you will likely not be disappointed.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I just glanced at the average …
review by . June 23, 2007
Thinking about high school, it's odd that no "high school noir" films existed prior to the last few years. High school is such a perfect setting for a film noir, and though it may seem ridiculous at first, there's many parallels between the world of a teenager and a character in a 1940s noir, be it the battle between the police and the shamuses and the battle between the administrators and the students or the shady meetings under bridges and the shady meetings in the parking lot after school. In …
review by . April 13, 2007
"Brick"    Enjoyable and Unique    Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    While looking for something to watch for the weekend, I came upon "Brick", a very enjoyable film noir set in high school. It is something new and different--a bit over-the-top but very well done. This is not a kind of movie that allows you to sit back and relax as you watch it. It is very dark and sinister and keeps you on the edge of your seat once the action gets moving. …
review by . October 22, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
It's not easy being a teenager. Belonging or not belonging to a clique or gang can bring horrible expectations--ones that aren't easy to fulfill. Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an outsider, the way many outsiders are, but he is different. Brendan is devoted to his love, Emily Kostich, and will do anything to protect her. When she brushes off his love interest, she puts herself in harm's way. She is killed and Brendan finds her washed in a creek near an underground tunnel. From here he becomes …
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Ranked #4
It is rather brisk in this field. The leaves are descending like a tapestry of aloof dreams. The wind entices these leaves into a plume of whimsical billowing ontological paradox. Then I recall that I … more
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Wiki

High school collides with hard-boiled film noir in the twisty, cunningBrick. When he gets a mysterious message from his ex-girlfriend, a high school loner named Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Mysterious Skin) starts to dig into a crisscrossed web of drugs and duplicity, eventually getting entwined in the criminal doings of a teenage crime lord known as the Pin (Lukas Haas), his thuggish henchman Tugger (Noah Fleiss,Joe the King), and a mysterious girl named Laura (Nora Zehetner,Fifty Pills).Brickhas not only the seductive, labyrinthine plot of a crime thriller by Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) or Raymond Chandler (Farewell, My Lovely) but also a dense high-school version of hard-boiled lingo that's both comic and poetic. The movie unfolds with headlong momentum as Brendan manipulates, fights, and staggers his way through layers of high-school society. Gordon-Levitt is excellent; between this and the equally compellingMysterious Skin, he's left his3rd Rock from the Sundays behind. Also featuring Meagan Good (Waist Deep) and Richard Roundtree (Shaft).--Bret Fetzer
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Details

Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Drama
Release Date: March 31, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: August 8, 2006
Runtime: 1hr 57min
Studio: Universal Studios, Focus Features, Rogue Pictures
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