Aug 8, 2006

DVD Review: Brick

Universal Studios

Fans of hard-boiled literature and cinema MUST see Brick. This is a fantastic small film (made for $500K) that is refreshing in this day and age of exotic locals and huge explosions.

Brendan, our hero, is a loner that sits on the edge of society. He coolly watches the world around, often with disdain. This changes when he gets a call from Emily, his ex-girlfriend. She is in trouble and does not know what to do. By the time he tracks her down, she tells him to forget her and walks away. The next day, she is found dead.
Brick Emilie de Ravin Joseph Gordon Levitt Rian Johnson
(Emilie de Ravin, Jospeh Gordon-Levitt)

Brendan, driven by his still-deep feelings, climbs out of his self imposed exile to find out what happened. He digs into the criminal underworld to seek justice. He begins looking for the shadowy criminal ringleader known as The Pin. Brendan is determined to make sure the parties behind her death are brought to justice.

Oh yeah, it is set in high school. Now before you smirk or say “how cute,” this is unlike any high school film you have ever seen. This is a hard-boiled film through and through. First time director Rian Johnson credits the Coen Brothers for the creation of Brick: once he found out that their film Miller’s Crossing was inspired by the work of Dashell Hammett, he poured through the author’s works and that prompted him to write Brick.

Some nice acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brendan) and Lukas Haas (The Pin) but Nora Zehetner is awesome as Laura the dame that may or may not be helping our hero. She has the charisma to lead men to their doom, and have them not even mind it.

Brick Joseph Gordon Levitt Nora Zehetner Rian Johnson

( Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner)
As I said, the budget for Brick was only $500K, but the sparse feel really works for the film. It helps create the stark world that Brendan and Co. inhabit.In this day and age when the studios seem to place more importance on star power and big budget effects, it is nice to see a film that is powered by a good script and fine acting. Brick is a must see if only to send a message to Hollywood that well crafted films still have a place in society.

The bonus features here are few, but considering how lean this film is, that is not surprising. There are some outtakes(with intros by writer/director Rian Johnson) that are not so much deleted scenes as they are extended shots. Rian does a good job explaining why each scene was changed.

There is also an interesting, entertaining commentary by Johnson as well as members of the cast and crew. Well worth listening to.

Most of this is what I wrote about the film upon its cinematic release. Having had time to think about it and now watch it again, I will say this is a must own for any fan of Noir/Hard-boiled literature or cinema. A fantiastic film that easily ranks as my number one film for the first half of 2006; it will take a Hell of a great movie to keep this from being my film of the year.
Open your wallet and buy this, you won’t regret it.

Jeremy Lynch

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