Brick

Just got back from seeing this, and I highly recommend it, especially for any calssic noir fans out there. It takes about fifteen minutes to acclimate to the tone, but once you give in it’s a great ride. It’s a stunningly confident piece of filmmaking that manages the great post-ironic feat of being both deadly serious and lighthearted fun at the same time.

Yay, another guy from my film school class makes it, and it’s not me.

Oh well. Rian Johnson is a nice guy and I wish him all the success in the world. Honestly.

I saw this on Friday as well, and I’ll second Jason’s opinion. A really cool and confident piece of film making. Granted, I couldn’t always following what was being said or what was happening (which I guess is sort of the point) but the acting was really strong and I loved the way some sequences were filmed.

Personal favourite has to be the chase between Brendan and the knife thug who clogs after him. Just a completely silent scene except for the footfalls, I just thought that was really cool.

Saw this yesterday, and really liked it. Great idea with almost equally great execution. It felt a little long, though. Probably could have used a little trimming in the script stage, since the last 40 minutes or so feel like one long denouement.

I did have a question that maybe someone who went to school with Johnson could answer. The scene in the Vice Principal’s office seemed to both nail the “noir-in-high-school” thing better than any other in the film and to be more polished than most of the other scenes. It struck me as likely that that scene was the first written, maybe as part of a “write an everyday situation as a genre scene” exercise, which was then expanded into a full film later on. Have I got it straight or is this a wrong-way detour down a stretch of bad road?

That’s a keen observation, but it may not be the case, or at least I don’t think he did it as an exercise. Maybe that scene was just one of the first ones he wrote, or maybe it’s the one where he nailed it. I recently read an interview with him in which he indicated that the desire to do a straight-up noir story came first, and setting it in a high school came out of trying to find a way to make the material resonate with modern-day audiences. Miller’s Crossing was a big inspiration, and it shows.

Apparently he spent around five years writing and refining the script, trying to get the project financed before shooting it over the course of three straight weeks. Maybe Gordo has some insight on that.

Also, the high school where the story takes place is the high school Johnson attended. The great sense of place the film possesses comes at least in part from having been shot in and around his hometown.

Apparently he spent around five years writing and refining the script, trying to get the project financed before shooting it over the course of three straight weeks. Maybe Gordo has some insight on that.

Nah, I haven’t seen him since we graduated 10 years ago. All I know is his cinematographer Steve Yedlin also worked with him back in film school. They made a 16mm short entitled “Killer Demon Golfball From Hell” (or something to that effect), after the screening of which some guy in the audience shouted to Rian, “you are the future of cinema!” It was a “telltale heart” story about a golfball that would bounce around, tormenting the hero.

My short, about a pretentious artist who becomes obsessed with painting a hacky-sack player, met with no such accolades. Deservedly, I’m sorry to say.

Saw this movie over the weekend and really liked it, but I don’t think it’s because the movie was super-great. At first, I have to admit I thought it was a bit of a mess and the genre-mixing wasn’t working that well. Then after a particular scene that really worked well for me, it seemed to come together a lot better.

Part of me wishes that Brick didn’t try so hard with the genre blending. I almost wish it was a little toned down most of the time and then letting the particular scenes that work best stand out more.

I just saw this again tonight. I’d seen it at Sundance over a year ago, and I was surprised that they let it be. I expected folks at Focus would argue as Matt did, saying they should shorten it.

But I disagree. I don’t think there’s much room to trim anything, even in the script stage, as Matt suggested. It’s how noir works. You have a cast of established characters and they each need their introduction, their role in the puzzle, and their denouement. Brick did this pitch perfectly.

And even with the flow of events, you can’t cut it short. There are false conclusions until you finally understand the entire picture, along with the protagonist. It’s not who killed Emily, or even why. But you don’t know that until those facts are revealed. Instead, everything leads up to Lara’s final revelation to Brendan on the football field and once he learns this and then turns away, the movie is over. That can’t happen a millisecond before.

awdougherty, what was the particular scene you mentioned that was the turning point for you?

-Tom

“You read Tolkein?”

I love that scene because it’s simultaneously hilarious and poignant – Lukas Haas makes a sort of sad and sympathetic kingpin, and even though that line is clearly comedic, when he says, “the way he writes, it’s like you’re really there,” there’s this wistful, I-wish-I-could-get-away-from-it-all feel to it.

I admired a number of scenes in the film for their pacing and independent character, the way I enjoy different, varied tracks on an album that are polished and unique but tie the whole together. The parking lot showdown scene stands out in particular for me, the way it builds up the menace with the black car, then manages the tension between fearing for Brendan, admiring his resolve, and laughing at the hilarious speed-walking steam engine of Tug, who at that point is the scariest thing in the movie.

For me, the scene that made it all start clicking was the protagonist’s first encounter with the vice principal where they discuss keeping the heat off for a little bit.

I agree with Tom about the length and timing. This movie, in my opinion, comes together perfectly. The length never bothered me, and there are great scenes and story developments throughout to really keep the film moving.

LOVE the scenes in the Pin’s house. The basement stuff is great (especially at the end), but the juice and the juice container bits were all just awesome.

edit: one other thing, absolutely brilliant casting in this film, which I imagine is part of what makes it actually all work.

LOVE the scenes in the Pin’s house. The basement stuff is great (especially at the end), but the juice and the juice container bits were all just awesome.

That fight sequence at the end that you don’t see, but where the camera just follows the sounds was great. Also, gotta love the Pin’s car with the lamp.

That lamp was absolutely awesome, as was that final fight. Just the idea of kicking the gun back into the room with how that fight was presented.

What was the deal with Tug’s forehead? I kept thinking that we’d find out Emily brained him or something and that underneath his hat there are bandages. Then I thought it was a birthmark, but the little trickle of blood/birthmark kept changing.

Also, did anyone notice that Laura’s coat in the final scene looked an awful lot like Mary Astor’s in The Maltese Falcon? That thing in her hair too.

Seems likely. Each time you see here she’s dressed in a different 20s or 30s look, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were specific visual references to femmes fatale in older noir. In any case, it’s cool the way she’s an obvious and direct visual reference that I didn’t even think about until you brought it up – just chalked it up to quirky high school fashion sense.

Is it going to get wide release anytime soon?

I doubt it. I think the idea is to spark word-of-mouth with a limited release and then rely on DVD sales.

-Tom

That’s too bad, I hope it comes to DVD soon.

Just out of curiosity though, I’m betting it ends like the Maltese Falcon. Is that correct?

That is not correct.

Wait, how does The Maltese Falcon end? I’m not sure I understood anything in that movie after the first reel.

-Tom

SPOILERS

The bird they find isn’t the actual Maltese Falcon, it was a fake made out of lead or something.

I’m guessing that because some review said it ended like a classic pulp did.

Ah, no, nothing like that. Brick does have a classic noir conclusion, but it’s not a direct nod to The Maltese Falcon (although there is at least one of those).

And quit trying to find out stuff about the movie before you’ve even seen it. Heck, get out of this thread already! :)

-Tom