Brick (2005, Rian Johnson)

screened Wednesday January 10 2007 on DVD in Brooklyn, NY IMDb Dashiell Hammett? Like, who's he?

Rian Johnson's transplanting of a noir detective story to a contemporary SoCal high school milieu has more energy and verve than most Hollywood films I've seen this year. The co-opting of hardboiled noir dialogue is ballsy -- even if it fails for some, it prompts us to reckon what relevance those old films have for today's cinema. I certainly don't mind being reminded of my favorite 40s crime movies, like Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil, whose baroque dialogues may very well serve as an inspiration for Johnson's screenplay. Sometimes the slang achieves a beautiful ingrown quality, like that in another great recent indie film, Shane Carruth's Primer. There's certainly an element of artifice but I found it more playful than grating, not unlike Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket or other young indie films that aren't afraid to show how inventive they can be and how much they're willing to accept the weirdness of the world they've created and run with it. Cinematically it has its flashy moments, at times reminding me of recent South Korean cinema (there's a dead girl lying in a stream scene that feels like a dead ringer for one in Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder). I'll be interested in listening to Johnson's commentary whenever I get a chance. yes (#21 for new films seen in 2006 between LINDA LINDA LINDA and A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION)