Friday, April 21, 2006

Brick d. Rian Johnson, 2006

The idea of a high school noir seems so obvious now: I can't imagine a setting more dramatic, convoluted, or nihilistic. The locale goes a long way in making the terse, noir dialogue buyable (take a powder = leave early; yeg = guy); these things are ridiculous caricatures, but without the setting, they'd just be ridiculous. Ditto the character names: Tugger, The Pin, Dode. The machinations fit right when placed in a culture where the supreme goal is the apathy and indifference of cool.

An argument could be made (although I won't flex too hard here - space, time, yadda yadda) that this is really - like She's All That or Fast Times at Ridgemont High - a pure high school picture. The characters - and, ergo, the audience too - identify each other in terms of consumption ("She knows where I eat lunch," et cetera.) Kids die, are lost to drugs, form cliques, and generally - figuratively - eat each other alive; the system consumes. Stripping the action down to its themes and emotions (e.g. instead of Em's murder, substitute in ostracizing by her classmates), the film follows the typical high school story arc: he loves her, she might love him, she leaves him, he chases her, et cetera. This isn't to downplay the film. The opposite actually: Johnson slaps life into one tired genre (the high school film), while putting a new spin on another (Noir). The results are ridiculously satisfying and, I'd imagine, would reward multiple viewings.


Anonymous Scott said...

Argh. This is the one I want to see...but not enough to hitch a ride up to the one theatre it's playing in. Hopefully a DVD screener or something will turn up on the internet at some point in the near future.

25 April, 2006 14:49  
Blogger Michael K. said...

Hmm. I don't think my review conveys my enthusiasm for this film very well. If it came out last year, it'd be - easily - my favorite film of the year. If it came out in 2004 - a year, totally unlike last year, filled with great films - I'd place it at #4, right behind Eternal Sunshine, right above Primer. Maybe #5. It's really fucking good.

That said, I don't think there's much of it that is necessary to see on the big screen. (As opposed to, say, Playtime . Although, you would be missing the bruising crush of the sound design. If you do skip the theater, watch it at home, on your computer, with headphones on. You should be set then.

25 April, 2006 15:59  

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