Friday, May 19, 2006


So I checked out this obscure flick the other day at the Kendall Sq cinema and was pleasantly surprised...nay, shocked I should say, pleasantly shocked.

I had gone to the theater the week before and saw a poster for the movie, "Brick". It described the film as a detective-type flick. Well... I love this stuff, so I looked it up on the internet and found it had received some acclaim.

Call me a cynic, but I was encouraged by the fact that I had yet to see one commercial for it, one trailer and zero buzz. (Usually a little buzz is positive with regard to independent flicks, but I was nonetheless pleased to have heard zilch.)

It was described as "minimalist" which I always love. While the flm is not the best quality and there are, of course, zero effects, my experience has shown that it means the film makers have to focus on execution on the part of the actors, and quality of content and story.

What these guys did was amazing, in my book. First if all, the camera work, while not flashy, was terrific. Some of the angles reminded of some of the stuff Kubrick did in The Shining.

What the film is, basically, is a noir flick set in a California high school. (I know it sounds ludicrous, but rust me on this one.) The main character (played brilliantly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a total departure from Thrid Rock from the Sun) is what Bogie would be today if he were a high school kid working on finding out who killed the ex-girlfriend he was still madly in love with.

They do a fantastic job of transposing the classic noir plot on top of a modern caper. You've got the uneasy relationship the old time detective had with the cops... that deal where he would tell them just enough to get them to do what he needed them to do, only it's with the Vice Principal, played to the hilt by Richard Roundtree (the original "Shaft"). You've got Emilie de Ravin (from "Lost") as the woman he loved who fell-in-with-the-wrong-crowd-and-got-killed-for-it. She is very convincing as the sad ex you are first introduced to as a dead body. Nora Zahetner is terrific as the beautiful debutante that can't be trusted, and Meagan Good brings to life the evil man-manipulating vamp that would have been played by Bette Davis sixty years ago. Lukas Haas is perfect as the local drug kingpin whose organization main character Brendan needs to infiltrate, replete with out-of-control muscle. And of course, the cast wouldn't be complete without the brilliantly nerdy confidant and trustworthy human encyclopedia, aptly and stereotypically called, "Brain".

Trust me, it's all there.

What I like best is the deft usage of gumshoe lingo, all created so that while it is obviously modernized and makes complete sense... well, I have heard none of these terms or words, it is just brilliant writing.

The high school Bogie is a street-smart spectacled kid flawed with too much integrity and a loyalty that constantly threatens to get him killed. His Machiavellian technique is an homage to the Bogie classics that you know director Rian Johnson has watched over and over again.


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