I was curious about Rian Johnson and why he was picked to direct the mega-million dollar blow-out, The Last Jedi. His resume is not that impressive but I did notice that he directed 3 pivotal (and very good) episodes of Breaking Bad and he directed 2012's loopy time bender, Looper. I liked Looper, and I worship upon the altar of Breaking Bad. So, when I had the opportunity to watch another one of Rian Johnson's films, I jumped at the chance.
Brick is an odd concoction. It is carried by the under-appreciated Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays a difficult role brilliantly. Here's the thing about Brick. It is set in contemporary times but features high school kids and associated adults (parents, teachers, etc.) who speak and act like 1930's-era movie thugs. "What you looking at, you a wise guy? Why don't you put an egg in your shoe and beat it, see?" Well, the dialog wasn't quite that bad but close.
This project reminded me almost immediately of the equally weird 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann. That film was also set in contemporary times with teenagers running around spouting archaic language forms and acting like they were all misplaced in time.
Brick produces some downright laughable scenes, especially when Lukas Haas is around. He plays a teenaged crime kingpin, called The Pin, get it? His attempts at bad-assery fall flat and all I could see was a sweet looking kid delivering awkward lines. Noah Fleiss, the sweet looking kid from Josh and S.A.M. and Joe the King, also fails to sell his role as Tug, an evil mob enforcer and all-around skunk. In fact, none of the cast (aside from Gordon-Levitt) perform their roles believably and the entire film comes off at times like a middle-school production of The Maltese Falcon. A middle school production but with weird homo-erotic and sadomasochistic bits almost randomly tossed into the mix.
All criticisms aside, Brick is worth watching because it tries something different and almost pulls it off. After a while , you forget the absurdity of the gangster-movie wannabe quality of the film and get into it. The story-line is good and again Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant in the lead role.
Brick on one level is very funny. Forgive me but I still laugh at the image of Lukas Haas dressed up in a stereotypical bad guy suit (complete with a cape) and delivering awful dialog with a straight face. Weird, offbeat, and fun, Brick is certainly worth watching even if it doesn't quite work. I came away with the feeling that Rian Johnson thoroughly enjoyed making the film.
One disturbing aspect is that, for all of the potential fun in the film, it is about the brutal murder of a young girl and the resulting chaos inflicted upon her friends and family. If not for that, Brick could easily have been turned into a comedy and been a much more popular film.
The lonely teenager Brendan finds his former girlfriend Emily dead in the entrance of a tunnel of sewage and recalls her phone call two days ago, when she said to him that she was in trouble. Brendan, who still loved Emily, met bad elements of his high-school trying to contact her, and when he succeeded, she told him that she was OK. He hides her body in the tunnel and decides to investigate the meaning and connection of four words, including "brick" and "pin", that Emily told him to find who killed her. Using the support of his nerd friend Brain, he successively meets the small time drug dealers Kara, Dode, Brad Bramish, Laura and Tugger, to reach the teenager powerful drug dealer The Pin. Slowly, Brendan unravels the motives why Emily was killed and plots a revenge.
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January 24, 2013 at 04:07 AM