“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2005 / Director: Rian Johnson / Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner ... / DVD released 08 August, 2006 at Universal Studios / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
* Prices may differ from that shown
It's a very clever concept, to be fair: taking a film noir style and applying it to the modern day American high school setting and characters. The direction is crisp for the most part, the acting quite good (again for the most part), and the elements of a film noir all there. But for all this film's efforts at creating something kitsch and cool, Marlowe or Hammett this is not.
For a start, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no Bogart or Mitchum. The gravitas and presence of the two classic noir actors is sorely missing in levitt's portrayal of Brendan, high school no one who prevents his dead ex's body being found so he can try and solve her murder himself. It's a strange concept that almost comes off, with a clear and uncomplicated number of characters and plot twists, and easy to follow visual film (kudos to director Rian Johnson) and a few characters who are clearly young enough to be molly coddled should they stub their little toes.
In terms of plot, it's all about who killed Emily, Brendan's girlfriend. He enlists the help of a friend, and the plot follows a similar noir feel, taking him from clue to clue, contact to contact, until he meets with the local high school drug boss. It turns out Emily was killed over a brick of heroine, hence the title, and now it's down to Brendan to try and manipulate the various characters he comes across in order to force the truth out.
The thing is, when things do start to emerge, it's a bit uncomfortable as roles that are clearly defined for adults are filled by hyped up teenage characters that don't seem to be able to carry them. The femme fatale is rather soft and ineffective, the sidekick rather dull and one dimensional, and the violent thug and the drug boss are two unlikely characters who don't really intimidate you as you're watching - it's more like watching a muscular comedian trying to be angry and someone with less acting skills trying to act as if he has more than he's got. Somewhat disappointing at times.
But it's the noir traits that keep reminding you that this is a copy of something that fitted decades ago, that has little or no place in today's world, and relies solely on an era gone by being firmly planted in a modern high school setting. Hey, it worked for West Side Story as Romeo and Juliet got thrust into a school, and it worked for Romeo and Juliet getting a modern upgrade with Leo DiCaprio quoting the bard in an annoying drawl to try and woo Claire Danes' gormless Juliet.
But they had a budget, and Brick is sorely lacking some killer punches. It is to be praised for its filming styles, the distant camera shots and patience shown by Johnson throughout certainly something that makes you want to keep an eye out for the future. the overall feel is constant and you have to admire the way Johnson maintains pace from start to finish. It just lacks that certain something you'd expect it to have. I, like another reviewer, watched this merely because it is in Empire's top 500 films of all time, and it's something I'm working my way through. Were it not for that, this film would have completely escaped me. As it stands, it's a clever concept and worth a watch if you're stuck for something, but it's not something I can say I'm relieved was brought to my attention. If you do watch this, you'll appreciate the attempts to mdoernise noir, but if you don't bother then you're not missing anything particularly special.
Brick was leant to me by a friend and I'm certainly glad I did not part with any money (unlike them) to watch this rather disappointing film that in my opinion does not deserve the Sundance accolade that it got.
Set in a California High School the film opens with a dead body being discovered in a sewer, the victim is a pretty girl named Emily played by Emile de Ravin who 48 hours before her death had contacted her ex-boyfriend Brendan, played by Gordon Levitt, with a cry for help. The film then jumps back 48 hours to show how she came to be dead and the events leading up to it.
Both of them were involved in the drug scene within their school and Brendan starts to look for Emily amongst the down and outs and users on the street and soon comes into contact with the drug gang led by a character called The Pin played by Lukas Hass and his violent sidekick Tugger played by Noah Fleiss, Brendan is helped by a friend known as The Brains who is played by Matt O'Leary. Why the characters have to have such strange names is a bit beyond me as it tends to try and make the whole thing appear cool and hip which is one of the failings of this film.
I found the whole plot concept to be a bit far fetched and not at all realistic, I did not find the main characters convincing and there were not enough plot twists to hold my interest, it always amazes me how drug gangs seem to willingly accept someone into their inner confines in such a short space of time as they do in this film, it just does not support the whole idea of paranoa and suspiscion that you would expect to exist.
At times the acting is rather surreal in the way the characters are portrayed and this is one of those films that goes for style over substance and as such I found it to be disappointing and while it has its good moments it is not one that I would want to watch again. Also at almost two and a half hours long it could do with editing down quite a bit as it does not warrent being that long.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
I love film noir: there are few things as satisfying as watching Humphrey Bogart taking down the bad guys with a strong woman (femme fatale) in tow. Brick takes the conventions of film noir and imbues them onto a gumshoe detective story, making for a strange but incredibly potent mix that has cemented director Rian Johnson as a talent to watch in the coming years.
The film revolves around Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a student who has just found the dead body of his girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin) in a storm drain. With his friend The Brain (Matt O'Leary), he attempts to find out who killed her, while also trying to avoid getting in trouble at school while pretending to be a snitch for his assistant vice-principal (Richard Roundtree). He gets to know the dangerous femme fatale Laura (Nora Zehetner), getting into her circle of friends who hold the key to all the answers, the line ending with the strange The Pin (Lukas Haas), a young mob-boss type.
This is a baffling, but incredibly satisfying mix that's got plenty of humour, pathos, action and drama. Extremely well acted by Levitt and in fact by the rest of the cast, it also has a compelling central enigma and stunning direction from Johnson. Utterly fantastic, especially considering the low budget, Brick expertly melds the tropes of film noir with a compelling high school setting. The film also benefits hugely from Levitt's performance, and fans of classic film noir cinema will absolutely love this, although it is worth saying that the uninitiated may be confused by some of the dialogue. Nevertheless, Brick is masterfully directed by Johnson. One of the most overlooked films of this decade.
The basic premise of Brick (directed by Rian Johnson) is that high school student Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) discovers that his ex-girlfriend has been killed over a brick of heroine. He then proceeds to dig deeper into the drug underground to find out what really happened.
The only reason I watched this film was because of its placement on Empires Top 500 list (at around 480-something) and honestly, after viewing it I am sure there are more than 500 films better than Brick.
Much of the film is very pretentious. It feels like something a group of arty-type film students got together and tried to create something they thought would be dark, witty and "cool" when in reality is irritatingly self-indulgent and cliché-ridden. The characters all seem to talk to each other as though each vapid line they have spoken is as witty as an Oscar Wilde quip.
One niggling problem I have with this film is the character Brain. If there was a "Most One Dimensional Character" award at the Oscars this kid right here would win it hands down. First of all, picture someone who looks like he'd be called "Brain" - he looks exactly like that. Now even though he has a fairly prominent role, practically nothing about him is revealed - other than the obvious stereotypes (he is smart, wears thick glasses...). What is extremely odd, is that he apparently has absolutely no stake in helping Brendan succeed, yet he runs errands here, there and everywhere for him without a word of complaint even after he hears that someone's brain has been blown out with a revolver. Now that's some friend.
To give credit to the film I thought it was well shot. Long shots were they were needed helped give the impression you were actually there. They also used some techniques I hadn't seen in other films, which I thought was a nice touch.
Despite the artsy filming techniques, Brendan often feels the need to explain just exactly what has happened - presumably due to poor writing. Unfortunately, their fantastic idea to keep these segments from being boring is to punctuate them with ambiguous American slang and giving us a constant close up of his wooden face (instead of say, showing helpful flash backs). For these reasons, along with his monotone voice means that he might as well be talking in French.
The soundtrack is barely noticeable, other than the closing credits song which is good quality. Most of it is broody synth-piano, which makes me wonder if they were just cutting corners.
The film is also morally questionable, as the underlying subtext of the film is that nothing is more cool than drugs and dealing them when in reality, it's not quite so.
On the plus side, things heat up and the experience gradually becomes a bit more satisfying in closing twenty or so minutes as the characters converge, conflict begins to ignite and in some cases, become a little more fleshed out.
Essentially a film noir set in a modern day high school, Brick is the 2005 debut written and directed by Rian Johnson.
Brendan Frye (the vastly under-rated Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a student at an unnamed high school finds the body of his ex-girlfriend Emily (Lost's Emilie De Ravin). He had received a terrified call from her days earlier and sets out to find out who is responsible for her death. Thanks to his intrusions he cames into the contact with the local drug dealer The Pin (Lukas Haas, who you may have seen much earlier as a little Amish boy in Harrison Ford's Witness), who he attempts to get onside whilst also feeding spurious information to the schools principle. Eventually following double and double-crossings we find out who Emily's murderer is - but they're not the only guilty one.
As mentioned, this plays like a film noir with a tough incorruptible good guy, tough guy henchmen, femme fatales and "mr bigs". Johnson himself cited the work of Dashiel Hammett as an inspiration. The film is low budget, half a million dollars at most, but doesn't look cheap. The actors all give good performances, especially Gordon-Levitt as the indomitable Brendan.
Johnson created a style of dialogue which harks back to the pulpy detective stories (for example - "You think The Pin's just a tale to take whatever heat?") which are a selling point but can be a hindrance - if you're not paying complete attention at all times you can miss large parts of the plot, which happened to me. By the time the person responsible for everything was revealed I'd lost track of who had done what. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
This was cited at the time as "the new Donnie Darko". It's in no way similar, a more direct comparison would be the new Maltese Falcon since both have plots which at times can be impenetrable.
A review of just the film. There's a DVD that'll only cost you about £6 on amazon, but I didn't feel interested enough to watch the extras.
This is an American 'indie' flick from 2005. What you might call 'intellectual thrillers' have been quite big in recent years (Memento and so on), and Donnie Darko made films about teenagers trendy again. And this film is an intellectual mystery/thriller set in a high school. So the question is, is it being a bit too calculatedly cynical in trying to push all the right buttons, or am I being too cynical in assuming that's what it's doing?
There's this one really smart kid called Brendan, a bit of a loner. His ex-girlfriend Emilie turns up murdered, and he sets out to find out what happened. She was in with a bad crowd, and Brendan finds himself drawn into a world of drug dealers and violence.
This is often described as a modern day film noir (but in colour, obviously). It has a lot of elements in common with the noirs. The film features a lengthy flashback, femmes fatales, a loner (anti-)hero driven by his feelings for a woman, and plenty of shots of ceiling fans. The music features saxophones quite a lot. The main novelty here is transposing it onto a high school with the kids (all of whom look to be about 20 - when do people leave school in America anyway?) as the noir archetypes. This works reasonably well, although it sometimes gets a bit 'Cruel Intentions' (and not in a good, lesbian-snogging way. Do all rich kids in America really have cocaine habits?)
I think the main influence here is probably James Ellroy, the Los Angeles crime writer. As in his books, it features almost credible, stylised dialogue that makes the film's little world nicely convincing. The characters in the film are all much cleverer than the viewer, and a lot of the dialogue is incomprehensibly cryptic. Even when the final plot nuances are explained at the end, you'll still have absolutely no idea how the characters actually figured all this out (a frustrating feeling familiar to anyone reading Ellroy). But although it may be hard to follow individual details, it manages not to be confusing - we're always pretty clear on what's happening, even if we don't understand why.
Other big influences seem to be Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest, and the films of David Lynch. The main drug dealer, a guy called The Pin, has a very Lynchian hideout, and a club foot. His henchman, the hilariously violent Tug, also has an element of the kind of physical menace that Dennis Hopper had in Blue Velvet. With its emphasis on school, it's a bit like a straighter version of Twin Peaks, with Emilie as a watered down Laura Palmer. But is Twin Peaks-lite really what we want?
It's all directed nicely enough by first-timer Rian Johnson, who also wrote it. There's a bit too much annoying editing, and it's nowhere near as cool as it thinks it is, but on the whole there's nothing particularly wrong here. It focuses on small details a lot of the time, giving them just enough screen time that when they become important to the plot we remember them.
I'm not familiar with any of the actors, but they do a pretty good job, managing to make potentially clichéd characters reasonably interesting. My favourite was Lukas Haas as The Pin, the wannabe-supercool drug dealer whose mom serves his henchmen apple juice, and who loves Tolkien (thereby blowing any cool he had right out of the water). But everyone's good. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan is an unlikely crusader, but can rattle off a meaningless bit of Ellroyesque dialogue as well as anyone.
This was an entertaining enough film for 110 minutes, although it's not really very likeable. It's fun but not engaging - everyone in it seemed unpleasant, so I couldn't really bring myself to care what happened to any of them. There's an air of detachment about the whole thing that made it ultimately a bit unsatisfying, and it's trying a bit too hard - it felt like a showreel for a cool new director as much as a film aimed at an audience. But for a first film it's impressive, and hopefully Johnson will get to make better films.
Brick is an independent film directed by Rian Johnson and it was released in 2006. Despite being made for just $500,000 which is nothing for a movie Brick became one of the biggest hits of 2006 and a has become somewhat of a cult classic already. Johnson based the story on the kind of format that writer Dashiell Hammett, an author known for hardboiled detective novels.
This 15 rated film was critically acclaimed and won several awards including The Special Jury Prize Originality of Vision of the sundance film awards. With the story and violence you could forgive the classifiers for making this an 18 rated film.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Brendan who is the leading character in the film. Brick also includes Emilie de Ravin (As Emily),
Nora Zehetner (As Laura), Matt O'Leary (As "The Brain"), Lukas Haas (as "The Pin"), Meagan Good (as Kara)
Noah Fleiss, (As "Tug") Noah Segan (As stoner "dode") and Brian J. White as Brad.
There are some very good performances, especially from the main character played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Nora Zehetner also is convincing playing the temptress Laura. Overall there are no bad performances in Brick and some outstanding ones from the leading charecters. Given the story it is important that the charecters are believable.
Brendan Frye plays detective as he tries to find out what happened to his ex girlfriend who got heavily into the wrong crowd and became a Heroin addict. With the help of "The Brain" he goes on a quest to find answers. His intrusion into the tightly knit circle of high school cliques brings him into the lives of several people, including sophisticate Laura and the abrasive "Tug" who is fight happy.
What follows is gripping and superbly directed. Once "The Pin" knows Brendan is on the trail of him he sends someone to deal with him, In this scene there is one of the best and most unique pieces of action you are ever likely to see. The way Brendan deals with his pursuer is nothing short of genius.
The plot has several twists and turns and to really understand this film you need to watch closely otherwise it will confuse you in several ways. Follow it closely and you will be rewarded with a fabulous film that shows everyone what a "good" independent film can do as there are too many independent films that are duds in my opinion.
There are some great twists and turns in this film which keep you guessing and it has a high comedic value with some very funny moments despite it's subject. It is always good to have comedic moments even in a film like Brick.
The use of music is stunning in this film and really adds something to the overall package. The use of music is one of the most important aspects of a soundtrack and this is done superbly well on Brick. The music is done by Rian Johnson's cousin Nathan Johnson with help from The Cinematic Underground.
Interview with Director Rian Johnson.
Deleted and Extended Scenes.
Short film 'Origami' by Rian Johnson.
Director and Cast Commentary.
Rian Johnson Video Diary for BBC Film Network.
The Making of The 'Brick' score.
Behind The Scenes by A San Clemente High School Student.
Most DVD's extras are now a big part of the film and with Brick it is no different. It has interesting interviews and commentary from the cast and also has the Theatrical Trailer of Brick. I like the interviews as they give a perspective of what a film is really about in the eyes of the directors who know how the film should be viewed.
This is one of the greatest independent films I have ever seen and Brick is in my top ten films of all time. Remember, If you follow the story carefully you will be rewarded with something extremely special and gripping. This has so many twists and turns that it keeps you guessing.
For some reason drug movies have to be cool and hip to get on the big screen. The grim reality, of course, is emaciated homeless Big Issue sellers littering the town centers, bony fingered hands clawing at gullible women handing over the naive fiver, the rodents scurrying of with a purposeful gate to score the next hit. It will be along time when someone makes a movie about those guys and girls.
When we persist on glamorizing drugs like we do through films like this and our celebrity culture its no wonder the drug trade is as big as it is. The reason Little Jessie James gets blasted in Moss Side is because the judiciary still refuses to lock up people like that waste of space that is Pete Doherty.
Now, if your going to gear your film around a style concept, make sure the movie doesnt wear thin. Well Im afraid thats the case with director Rian Johnsons rather pretentious effort of film noir here, being filtered through the modern Californian high school setting.
The idea of some final year students setting out to bring down the schools high society drug ring in the manner and language of a Raymond Chandler detective novel (and with all its clichés) is an interesting one .But after 40 minutes of the dialogue and posturing the whole things stiffens up and tires. There are only so many lines studious looking preppy types can deliver with gumshoe patois`.
Im all for something different on film and was wowed by Danny Boyles Trainspotting, just like the next man. But when something comes along thats highly recommended and the dust cover machine-gunned with positive one line reviews, but its a bit of a bore, then it annoys me more, especially when its another one of those movies that desperate to be ober cool over the damaging drug culture.
We begin with a dead body of an attractive woman in an urban Californian sewer, the ex boyfriend of the deceased looking on open-mouthed. We then flash back two days to take the journey to discover how they got here.
Brendan (Gordon Levitt) is the ex; still sulking from his split with the soon to be stiff Emily (Emile de Ravin), who calls him on his cell phone to ask for help.
Both have been sucked into the high school drug clique, the local street junkies Brendans first lead to track her down. With the help of The Brains (Matt OLeary), the two soon trace the suspected culprits to a gang run by The Pin (Lukas Hass), his side-kick Tugger (Noah Fleiss) soon breaking heads as the tail unravels, including Brendans, not the last time he takes a beating in the movie to find his girl.
Brendans character is empowered when he joins the Pins gang, working inside out to find his girl. It soon becomes clear that someone has stolen a brick of Hashish from The Pin, of which femme fetale Laura (Nora Zehtner) is twisting here evil way with both Brendan and The Pin to insinuate Emily has it, Brendan realizing this will be a harder mystery to solve than he thought.
To be honest its a bit too pretentious for me and I tired of all the retro stuff by half-way, hoping the story would carry me through by twisting and turning a bit to pull me back in. Well it didnt really do that things just dribbled out as I reached for the fast-forward.
The odd soundtrack and abstract performances also put me off early on and if it wasnt for some good reviews on here I wouldnt have touched this. So its your fault guys.
At times this looked like a Blur Video; colligate looking college boys running around the concrete Californian suburbs in Chinos and designer T-Shirts trying to be cool and something they are not and would never be connected with.
The films concept and idea just didnt work for me and I think is more about some Orange County film students who have been given too much money to make a movie than anything revelatory or clever here. When the Apocalypse Now homage moment appears on screen you do wonder if director Rian Johnson had been taking some drugs on the side.
At 150 minutes is along haul too. If ever there was a film made for students and stoners then this must be it. The only plus is it is well shot and the locations correct and many of the high school clichés abandoned for a colder authenticity. But ultimately its more of that damaging and erroneous fluff that glamorizes a corrosive drug culture in the west and so for that reason its not something I would recommend, how ever irreverent the movie tries to be.
Directors Commentary by Rian Johnson, via the Set-Up option. I think audio coms are being hidden like this so they can reissue this type of apparent Vanilla with the extras in the open.
I fear watching a worthy film. This is one of those films that you read about that have had great critical buzz and award hype. Maybe it was nominated for an Oscar or won plaudits at the Sundance festival? I find that many of these films leave me cold as they are either a bit boring or seem to be experiments that only film making spods would enjoy. Films like 21 Grams, The Hours and Crash have all left me thinking what the fuss was about. The problem is probably even worse with Indie films as they do not even have the budget, or stars, to make the film interesting. It was with this nervous mindset that I decided to watch Brick, a film that has been given lots of praise from Sundance a couple of years ago. Will it be yet another example of film beardy weirdys blowing their own film trumpet, or will I actually enjoy it like City of God and Donnie Darko?
Brick tell a modern noir story of Brendan a high school loner. The film opens with the body of a girl in a sewage outflow pipe. It turns out that this girl was Brendans former girlfriend and seeing as he is the first to stumble across the body he is prime suspect for her murder. Rather than go to the police Brendan decides to try and investigate the various gangs and cleeks in school to find out if anyone knows who really did it. The world of Brick is a lot darker and violent than ours as Brendan delves into a mystery that will see him involved in gang warfare, drugs and slang language.
This is a very peculiar film on several levels. Firstly, the use of language is completely unique from any film produced in the past 30 years. Rian Johnson, the director and writer of the film, has decided to embrace the noir films of 40s and 50s America and bring them into the present. This is most noticeable in how the different characters interact with one another. The use of slang is paramount with many sentences going right over the viewers head as the characters talk to one another. It is an interesting idea and does make the film stand out from the crowd, but for me it was slightly confusing and did not make up for other flaws in the film.
The direction and feel of the film also keeps close to a noir feel but also makes it modern. The fact that Brendan is followed throughout as we see him beaten from situation to situation is straight from the pages of a pulp crime novel. However, I did not actually find this particularly interesting as there is a reason that film has moved on from this period. Old noir films often suffer from being too long winded and slow and this is the case here. Trying to create an atmosphere of confusion and menace is not easy and only the best films like The Third Man pull it off. Brick is like a failed film school experiment in modern noir.
I feel that the real reason that the direction and ambience of the film fail is the script. The dialogue works well, but it populates an uninspiring and workmanlike story. I feel that Johnson was trying to homage film noir so much that he wrote the most linear and cliché story. By being cliché Johnson was able to say Hey, this is a noir film; however, it means there is nothing new here. If the story had been a bit more punchy and not so obvious the whole modern take on 50s films would have been far more successful.
The acting in the film also did not help improve matters. I understand that the film was trying to portray noir, but instead it just portrayed bland. Gordon-Levitt, as the main character, is a good actor and is wasted here. He does an adequate job in getting you to support his character but to be honest he was a bit boring. The rest of the cast is a collection of cheap and young nobodies who I doubt will go on to much else. Emilie de Ravin from Lost is present, but does not get much to do. The only role that showed any promise was Lukas Haas as The Pin the older drug kingpin. He looks like the kind of actor that will be able to span both indie and mainstream cinema.
So Brick is a film that is felled by the sum of its parts. I have no issue with the film trying to be a take of a classic noir film set in a modern American high school, but it fails to be entertaining or interesting. The use of language is excellent and although you may not understand the words you understand the meaning. It is a shame that such a unique premise is wrapped up in a poor script and bland cast. Some critics have praised this film as being an excellent new take on cinema I just think they are starved of anything different than the cookie cut films that Hollywood seems to produce today. Different is not always better and I am afraid in this case that sentiment is true.
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Price: Amazon uk £7.98
There are plenty of extras on this DVD and they do give a good impression of the difficulties of making a film on a small budget. There is a Directors Commentary and some interesting cast audition tapes, as well as numerous featurettes looking at things from music to costume. Overall, a more attractive package than the film itself.
It was my sister Sams birthday last week and because I am the best sister in the world I bought her not just one present but three presents and one of them was the film Brick on DVD. We had seen trailers for it previously and a long time ago and we remembered it looking good but to be honest I had no idea what it was about. So on the Saturday just gone we decided to give it a go and it was one of the strangest films I have seen in a long while and this is why.
The film begins with you seeing a young guy walking towards a tunnel with a canal running through it and pavements to the left and right. He can see a person lying face down on the side with their hand hanging over the water with blue bracelets on and she has blonde hair. He looks down at her looking sad and then the film cuts back a couple of days.
We now find out that the guy is Brendan and he is just a normal high school kid and then he answers a phone call from his kind of ex girlfriend Emily. She sounds stressed and asks for his help and then gets off the phone saying she is scared the second a black car goes past Brendan.
Brendan is now thrown into a world of crime as he attempts to figure out what is upsetting Emily. When it soon becomes apparent that Emily is the dead girl at the tunnel, he is determined to find out why and how it happened. The only way to do this though is to enlist the help of his good friend The Brain (no other explanation needed for the name) and then to get involved with people who you wouldnt want to meet in a dark alley.
Verdict on the Story:
I think the concept of this film is extremely good and I think the story of a guy finding out why a girlfriend is killed is believable because you would want to know. This film is a bit different though and I do not think many people expect it to be. Instead of the film telling the story the way most people do now, it tells it like old crime movies used to do it with names such as The Pin and Tugger and the dialogue is quite strange to get used to.
With the way the story plays out it is really good as you get hooked in right at the beginning with the sombre scene of a guy staring over a dead girl and then the motives behind everything and what happened are all in clues so it does keep your attention. They have written the movie so that it keeps your attention and although I thought it was extremely long and a bit too long I needed to keep watching to find out what happened as it draws you in so much.
Cast and Characters:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Brendan
Emilie de Ravin Emily
Nora Zehetner Laura
Matt OLeary The Brain
Lukas Hass The Pin
Noah Fleiss Tugger
Verdict on the Cast and Characters:
The cast are good because everybody can act which is a start but also because there are some recognisable faces and most of them actually do seem to have fun with this movie. Levitt I could not believe when I saw him as I still remember him as the little one in third rock from the sun but he is all growed up and playing a quite nasty character. Ravin is always one of my favourites so she was good and the other cast member who I thought was excellent was Zehetner so I will be hoping she gets more roles as she was excellent.
Character-wise I was a little bit disappointed as the main character Brendan is really quite annoying and because they chose Levitt to play him I just cant believe anything that happens as I think he was miscast in the role. The problem comes from the way his character is as Levitt cannot pull it off and although he is a good actor he ruined the movie for me. The one character that I thought was great was Laura as a mysterious and secretive girl who is involved with everybody around and knows way more than she should.
This film does not have much in the way of character development but they are very interesting and I think good to watch. In terms of being memorable though I will have to say no as I couldnt even remember their names and who they were while watching the film so I wont be able to remember them for much longer than while writing this review.
Things to Know:
Runtime 110 minutes
Price - £12.99 from Amazon
1 Disc DVD
Now I will be honest and tell you that I have not watched them all properly as to be honest many of them are not that interesting. The first, the commentary is with the director and is so boring mainly because the film is not exactly happy anyway so he has nothing great to say and it just becomes boring. I only gave it fifteen minutes before turning it off so I would not waste your time.
The auditions with two of the cast members are quite good to watch because I am nosy and like to see what people are like when they audition so I enjoyed that. The deleted and extended scenes are ok. I just watched the deleted and agreed they did not need to go into the movie. The extended though I left because you have just watched them in the movie anyway and I think they are of no use putting extended in the features for this kind of movie as every scene seems to go on for too long anyway.
There is a trailer which is pretty standard and then a costume design feature which I thought was quite good to see how they used the costumes to keep in the theme of the movie. There is an interview with the director which i only watched two seconds of and it proved as boring as the commentary.
The storyboard feature is quite good as I always like looking at them as if ind it mad how they get from it to making the movie and knowing exactly what happens in every scene. There are then two music things, one is telling you about the soundtrack which to be honest the score is excellent. Then there is another music thing which is good. both tell you why the music is like this and again it fits into the theme of the film.
I cannot make my mind up about the film as I think about it and straight after watching it I thought it was very good but then the more I think of it I go off it a little bit and it is mainly because Levitt just annoyed me so much in it and in my opinion he should not have been in the leading role. Overall though it was an odd film but one which is thoroughly enjoyable as long as you never take your eyes from the screen.
Stylish is the word I would use to describe this movie because all of eth direction and camera work is very arty and it is very much an arty film. I loved the way it was shot because it allowed the viewer to get into the flow of the movie because it is so mad. The score perfectly fits what is going on and the dialogue and camera work are all a perfect match so the film works well.
My only two complaints are that Levitt just does not suit the role at all and he makes it unbelievable and at times laughable. The other complaint is that it is a little bit too long at nearly two hours and I think because of the way scenes are shot they seem to be longer so by the end you think you have been sitting there for about ten hours.
In conclusion I am going to give this film four stars because I do actually applaud Hollywood for trying to make a film which is a bit different and unusual from the rest and also it is interesting to watch with a good story. I did however think it was a bit too long and the story got confusing by taking such funny turns that you didnt know what was happening half of the time. Also I think Levitt was cast wrong as the main character because I just couldnt believe anything he did. I do recommend giving it a go though.
Thanks for reading.
Brick is the first film I have seen in a long time that is near impossible to put into a descriptive box. It is set around a high school, but isn't a teen love story or comedy. It is set in modern times, but acts like it isn't, it is a detective story of sorts but without any sign of a law enforcement officer or private detective.
It harkens back, in tone and dialogue, to a 30's Marlowe or Sam Spade story, but has only two adults in it and is set, as I said in our own time period.
Brick is an enigma, indefinable but undoubtedly a work of genius. For a first time film maker it shows vision and style that puts it on par with Richard Kellys' Donnie Darko, another teen film that wasn't really a teen film. While the story is very different it does remind me a lot of Darko, Rian Johnson (writer/director) has the same way of just twisting things just that little bit askew. Is everything quite as it seems? You are never really quite sure.
Brick opens with a jangly, folk like musical background, playing behind the images we see of a boy, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Third Rock From The Sun, Ten Things I Hate About You) kneeling on the edge of a storm drain. As the camera pans around we see what he is looking at... the body of a young girl lying in the water, unmoving!
Flashback two days and we see her, Emily (Emilie de Ravin, Lost, Hills Have Eyes), leaving a note in Brendan's locker. In true 30's film noir/PI film style the note is ambiguous and just has an address and a time on it. Brendan waits on the corner and at the appointed time a phonebox near him rings. Answering it he hears Emily on the other end. He tries to calm her down but something freaks her out completely. A sporty black car speed down the empty road, stopping near Brendan, a cigarette flies slowly from the window as the car speeds of again.
Emily was Brendan's girlfriend, a relationship that parted ways when she 'joined' the jocks and cheerleaders clique, forever making a gap between them that would never be able to be crossed. Brendan, worried by had sudden disappearance, begins to investigate. He is worried and is set on finding out where she has vanished to, but his enquiries will drag him deep into the seedy activities of the 'cool' set. The further he digs the deeper he gets, finding more and more about the lifestyle Emily either wanted or found herself trapped in.
Brick plays like a 30's film noir, full of dialogue that could come from Chandler or Hammett, full of plot and that slow meandering as the hero slowly plods through the facts and uncovers the truth. Brendan throws himself into situations where most would fear to tread, just like those old PI's, because he is the PI equivalent, the one who knows right is on his side and that no matter how big a beating he takes he will come out on top in the end.
It also reminds me a lot of Bugsy Malone, where kids, acting as if they were adults, played all the parts in the gangster musical. The difference being that this is a serious film, a dramatic murder mystery thriller!
Brick is a one of a kind film, shot on a very small budget and supposedly edited by Johnson himself on his home computer. The only clue to this would be the use of locations in the film; everything looks real, no sets at all. Almost all of it is set in the same places, mostly outside, probably because then it cost him nothing. This works though, the lack of many different locations just adds to the insidious nature of the school cliques
In a sense Brick re-imagines the school groups as they would be in the more adult world of 30's film noir..
The cheerleader becomes the femme fatale, the information source - the nerdy geek, the loner outcast as the embittered PI. The originality of this idea is aided by a terrific script and a writer with a fine ear for dialogue The lines are peppered with stuff you wont have heard outside of a 30's film... the cops are called bulls, one guy is said to have gone on the lam, but this fits with the storyline, even if not with what you are actually looking at
Lewitt has turned out to be a fine actor and he is outstanding as Brendan, he is wise beyond his years and, like the 30's PI, prone to an almost death wish mentality as he takes more and more risks to find out the truth.
Lukas Haas (Witness) plays 'The Pin', possibly an Urban Legend the 'pin' is the drugs Czar of the area who lives with his mother, who always makes sure that his guests get some fresh juice (his mother is one of the few adults in the film... the other being Richard Roundtree (Shaft) as the principal who wants Brendan to spy on his fellow students and report back on them)
I've not seen Haas for a long time but he does a sterling job as a boy who is both vulnerable and young but also viscous and dangerous!
Noah Fliess as 'Tug and Nora Zehetner as Laura both show they have a lot of promise in the first roles of theirs I have ever heard off! Noah is especially very good as the violent, fist throwing thug 'Tug'
In fact everyone in the film performs very well with one exception.. Brian White as Brad Beamish, the football jock,. He feels out of sorts with what is going on but then his part is the one most rooted in the modern world, the one that doesn't really get a chance to shine in a film noirish kinda way, so maybe it is not his fault but is the one bit of the script that doesn't quite transmit what the writer wanted.
Brick is probably the best film I have seen this year, by a long way! It is clever, intelligent and a thriller mystery that actually lives up to both genre expectations.
This is a film I Recommend whole-heartedly, get a chance to see it if you can. It is supposedly on the rep route right now, turning up in some cinemas for one night specials... but I would think it will not be long before it comes out on DVD, when it does.. rent it and sit down to see something that is just a little bit different!
As you can tell from the last line this is a film only review!
Brick, the dynamic debut feature from writer/director Rian Johnson, won the Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision.