#6 – Brick (2005)

Brick (2005) – Run Time: 109 Minutes

One Line Synopsis

A neo-noir about a high school student (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who probes the dark underworld of his school after the mysterious death of his ex-girlfriend.

Best Reason to Watch

1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Quickly becoming a star in Hollywood, Levitt officially shed his sitcom self with this breakout role

2. Director Rian Johnson‘s debut

3. An immense enjoyment of 50’s detective jive talk

What Did You Miss?

“Coffee and pie… oh my.”

It all starts with a flash. Brendan (Levitt) standing next to a dead body with a assortment of bracelets cutting to those bracelets, on a living breathing female. Emily, Brendan’s ex who jilted him. There’s a note in his locker asking for help.

Brick was the first true sign that Levitt was not just that kid from “3rd Rock From the Sun.” It shows he had a career in front of him this film merges the youthfulness with real drama.

It’s the dream of any first time full-length director to assemble a cast of unproven talent and mesh it all into perfect harmony. The film is an excellent showcase of superb ensemble acting by a cast of relatively unknown, young actors. Excellent supporting performances by The Brain, even the under-appreciated Lucas Haas as The Pin, the local leader of the high school underbelly that seemingly everyone is tapped into.

The storytelling method assists in heightening the film’s quality; the treatment of high schoolers as capable of adult intelligence even if their bodies might not match their minds. Yet, it is not your average high schooler fun time, party flick or some horror movie. It is a dark film with heart that leaps off the screen under the guidance

The film rarely shows any actual adults and when they do they are supplicants, outside the know, relying on the kids for information. The teens are running the show.

I’ll call you… if something.”

Watching Brick one might believe they were in much more experienced hands and that is the sign of an excellent filmmaker worth watching for. Johnson takes what could have been a corny, high school version of The Maltese Falcon and turns it into a genre breaker.  An array, a choppy string of slightly informational, very catty confrontational chats giving the detective story it’s breadcrumbs while creating a dizzying array of interesting characters.

On a slim $500K budget, shooting in 20 days, mostly on weekends on the grounds of his old high school, Rian Johnson put together a film full of flavor and style. Here’s a couple of things a prospective filmmaker might want to learn from:

  • Utilize your locations to the max – The film has about 5 major locations and three of them are on the high school grounds: the school football field, outside the school, the parking lot, the pin’s place, and the tunnel. No non-sport film has more scenes in the middle of a field. The film actually never gets into the classroom. Yet, this limitation never seems to bother the film. The repetition of location has the effect of making you revisit all the clues over and over again.
  • Action on a minimal budget: There is an excellent foot chsea scene around the school that makes excellent use of sound design and editing to make it extremely entertaining.

“You’re gonna make me curious being so curious.”

Levitt has cracked the big time with roles in 500 Days of Summer, Inception, and the upcoming third part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. Rian Johnson may be next to breakout.

Johnson followed up with the hit-and-miss caper/con-man Brothers Bloom, an interesting film in its own right if only for its humorous opening segment of little children conman origin tale narrated by the great Ricky Jay.

His next film Looper seems to have a heftier budget and is scheduled for release in fall of 2012. /Film has an interesting piece about the film which is set to star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt and has a very interesting premise: “Looper is a time-travel action thriller involves a killer (Gordon-Levitt) who works for the mob of the future. He, along with other so-called Loopers, dispose of people that are sent from the future. When he recognizes one victim as his future self (Willis), he hesitates, letting the man escape.”

So get on the Johnson train before he cracks the big time. After enjoying Brick, you’ll be glad you did.

Brick Trailer:

Links:

In-depth Analysis of Brick – Roger Really

Starts getting sick as he gets closer to the truth. coughing.

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