Friday, 9 November 2012
Devouring Films: Brick
Confession: I've never seen a noir film, or read a noir book, and yet it's a style that I'm really familiar with and, actually, I'm coming to realise that I really like. But why am I so familiar with it? To be completely honest, cartoons. Off the top of my head, I can think of a specific example from Fairly Odd Parents (because I'm COOL, and don't even laugh because that was freaking AWESOME) but really it's been homaged allllll over the place, but it's only recently that I've understood what I was actually seeing. Of course, now that I recognise and can identify it, I keep pondering how awesome it would be to live in a noir film, and possibly intermittently pretending that I do. Ahem.
Brick, then, to speed things up, is a film that was recommended to me in the comments of my review of Looper (and if you feel like I've only been writing about movies involving JGL recently, then you would be absolutely correct in that feeling) by both Kayleigh and Megs, and with such esteemed recommenders, how could I resist?! As well as starring JGL, Brick has the same director (Rian Johnson) as Looper, and although the films are remarkably different (impressively so, I think) there is also a feel to them that's similar, mostly in the unimpressive looking locations, and the plot directions you really don't expect, that make you pause and go 'Well PLAYED, Mr. Johnson!'
What Brick is, essentially, is a neo-noir film (hence all the speak of noir, earlier- bet you thought I'd forgotten that, but NO! I'm totally organised) that feels incredibly noir-like to someone who's never actually seen a noir film. Which isn't that helpful, I realise, but I assume that it also feels noir-like to a veteran of these kinds of films, and hopefully they appreciated, as I did, the twist that, while it's noir-like in its storyline, it's also set in a high school, which is very much not typical (although much more in my jurisdiction). Now, even I can see how clever this twist is, in that the smart guy is the information/behind the scenes guy, the Vice Principal leans on him for information, and there are plenty of dramatic broads around to spice up proceedings; but I definitely felt like I was missing out on something by not having seen any noir films. Don't get me wrong, Brick is still thoroughly enjoyable if you've never had any noir experience, but there were probably things I missed by not being very familiar with the genre, really. But what I did get? I loved.
And what I really loved? JGL's performance. I know, yawn, right? But the thing is, even though in basically every film he's made in this millennium that I've seen he's absolutely killed his performance, quite a large part of my brain still insists on thinking of him as The Guy Who Wasn't As Hot As Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You. Which is ridiculous, and really unfair, but also means that I seem to have really low expectations for him that he smashes every time with his acting skills and, you know, his face. Brick would be no good at all if it didn't have a very very good actor to carry the lead role, and JGL is really really excellent in this. For some reason, he's believable as both the weirdo who kind of skulks around everywhere AND as someone who could break a much bigger guy's nose, which is fortunate because he has to do both of these things in the same character. It's also worth adding that he's ALSO believable as the guy girls are interested in, because, you know. That face!
So it's a noir film (have I said noir enough times yet? It feels very tiring continually writing it!) combined with a high school movie, albeit the kind of high school movie where there are no classes and you only get to see one teacher, the aforementioned Vice Principal. This being the case though, means that the story is able to get pretty dark and pretty gritty, pretty fast (there are actual dead teens in this movie! Just to warn you) which also allows for the kind of moments of dizzying clarity that I just love in anything, ever. For instance: There is this scene where JGL is beaten up, taken to a secret location where a drug lord lives, and is beaten up some more. But then, he's eventually taken upstairs where this drug lord's mother? Fixes him a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. And it's just SUCH an 'oh my god' moment, because it suddenly clicks that, no matter what these guys are doing, they're still just teenagers, and they still have mothers who want to take care of them.
I just eat shit like that right up.
I've probably already said too much, so I'd really better split *looks around cagily* but I've gotta tell ya, you just have to watch Brick. Broads and fellas alike, I don't see how there's any way you can not like this film. I'm already cooking up a scheme to get it in my permanent collection (you know, ordered it off Amazon) and I've also pledged to keep watching all the JGL films. Because DAMN that guy is GOOD!
P.S. Rian Johnson, PLEASE keep making films, you beautiful talented bastard!
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"I seem to have really low expectations for him that he smashes every time with his acting skills and, you know, his face" < hahahaha, ah. Excellent.ReplyDelete
This sounds really good! My knowledge of film noir ends at Humphrey Bogart. Oh, and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. So I like that there's a modern twist to this. Going to have to track it down!
It's SO good. And I don't know anything about noir! Nothing! Not a thing. All *I* knows is that I love JGL ;)Delete
I really love that you have just reminded me of Fairly Odd Parents!ReplyDelete
Haha, I really love that that's what you've taken away from this review! (DAMN that cartoon was SO GOOD!)Delete
Oh yay, you watched it! Excellent, huh? I have watched and read a medium amount of noir and thought it nailed the homage without doing a camped up version of it like, say, Sin City (the film, that is, which is also great but very much tied to its comic book roots and therefore super camped up). If you're interested in more film noir I recommend The Black Dahlia. No JGL but you do get Josh Hartnett!ReplyDelete
I did! And it really is! (I actually just got my own copy in the post today, and ZOMG want to watch it again, right away!) I am very interested in The Black Dahlia now, but ALSO I'd really like to watch some old-school noir, and maybe read The Maltese Falcon or something.Delete
Also, I LOVE Sin City. But I know what you mean about it being camped up. But also, it looks SPECTACULAR. But I probably did like Brick more :)
WATCH THE THIRD MAN.Delete
I liked Brick when I saw it some years ago, but really want to rewatch it now that I've seen Looper. I've also seen Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom which has some neat stylistic elements and an awesome side character named Bang Bang. Anyway, what I most remember about Brick is the climactic chilling scene in that guy's basement.ReplyDelete
WATCH ALL THE JGL! Hurrah!ReplyDelete
Noir is pretty fantastic, but Brick does noir better than anything else I've ever seen. Although the movie version of The Maltese Falcon is pretty great. And that's the actual real deal, without the "neo" part. So, yeah, maybe you should watch that one too.
Yay!! You watched it and double yay, you liked it!!ReplyDelete
JGL is such a powerhouse at the moment, but I think this is one of my favourite of his films. He also looks crazy scary like Heath Ledger with the longer Ledger hairstyle in this one...actually, I think this might have been the movie when I realised "wowzers, JGL!".
Also, watch and read all the noir!! Soooooo good, and so hard to emulate. most neo-noir is terrible, just unable to tap into the psyche that went behind the original group of films. Which is another reason why this movie is so good!