Noir-vember Day 24: Brick (2005) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Noir-vember Day 24: Brick (2005)

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Full disclosure: I have had a huge crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt since his days on Third Rock from the Sun. Yes, he was around 15 and I does not make me look good.

Anywho, Gordon-Levitt stars as Brendan in this neo-noir film set in a California high school. This high school was so much cooler than mine. Lunch hours that last forever. A great theater department, including a dressing room complete with mirrors, makeup, and costumes--at my school that was called room 3 at the grade school, and it had desks and chairs for first graders. The high school also featured jocks, cheerleaders, smart kids, rich kids, band kids, loners, and stoners. (Oh yeah, my school had those, too.)

Brick opens on Brendan discovering the body of a blond girl in a storm drain. Then writer/director Rian Johnson,Tarantino's it, taking us back two days prior to the girl's murder. She's leaving a note in Brendan's locker, unwittingly pulling him into her upcoming murder. It's later revealed that the girl is Emily (Emilie de Ravin), Brendan's former girlfriend.

The smart, snappy dialogue--reminiscent of a '40s movie or Dashiell Hammett detective story (a clear influence of Johnson's)--makes phrases like "take a powder," "knives in my eyes," and "you're quite a pill" sound natural in this modern day story. It's clearly bringing old school detective into the high school setting. And with everything being set in the high school scene, it works.

Brendan is our dark and brooding hero, and like all heroes, he just wants to fix Emily and help her problems go away. Unfortunately, she's sooo over him. They meet one last time before she's murdered, so she can tell him to move on. Of course, Brendan's not going to let her go. He has his friend/assistant the Brain (Matt O'Leary)--Miles Archer to Brendan's Sam Spade--keep his "specs peeled" for Emily.

Apparently, in California high schools, you can learn about someone based on where they lunch. Like who they're hanging out with. But it's not always easy to get this info. When Brendan asks who Emily's been eating with, the Brain says, "Lunch is a lot of things. Lunch is difficult." (I don't think anyone ever actually ate lunch in the movie though.)

Notes are also important pieces of intel—it is high school after all. Like the dialog, the notes are sometimes cryptic (another mystery for Brendan and the Brain to solve) and always to the point.

Drugs, violence, and payphones propel the story. Yes, payphones. There was only one cell phone in the movie (and it belongs to the Brain’s mom). My guess is that payphones most likely take us back to the time of gritty detective novels. And they provide great locations for shooting.

As Brendan gets closer to finding out what happened to Emily, he gets involved with the Kingpin (Lukas Haas), a 26-year-old drug dealer with a cane and club foot who still lives with his mom. Soon he’s working for Kingpin and learning more about the people Emily spent her last days with. Like Dode (Noah Segan), Tug (Noah Fleiss), and Laura (Nora Zehetner). Dode and Tug, like Brendan, have been dating Emily. Dode’s a lower-level drug dealer. Tug is the Kingpin’s muscle. And they’re both (as well as Brendan) in love with Emily. Nora’s a popular girl who throws glamorous parties and hangs out at the Pin’s house, and I'm pretty sure no one's in love with her.

Guess what? One of these people killed Emily.

For being a relatively low-budget movie, there are some great fight scenes, fantastic camera work, and good acting all around. And Gordon-Levitt is excellent, giving just a hint of the actor he will soon become. (Inception anyone?)

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Posted by Ryan

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  1. somemore movies this kind or maybe as passionate and deep as this, i think i would definitely wanna try out some.

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