returning with a good Brick

Listen, we all get lazy, and most of the time we just don’t know what to say to each other; let alone on a movie blog. It’s not that I have nothing to talk about (yes I totally called the Oscars’ out upon my last venture, so don’t worry my mouth will stay closed this time), it’s just that there’s only SO MANY things one can say about certain movies.

Yes I would love to talk about my love for Jaws or my developing theories of why I’m beginning to like “Goodfellas” more than “The Godfather” (out come the pitchforks), but I want this blog to be more about unseen movies; movies that don’t really get their fair due. This also includes the very filmmakers that created them.

So, last time we talked about how “Drive” was going unnoticed, and before that it was about “Win-Win” and “Slacker.” Today we will talk about one of my favorite young filmmakers, Rian Johnson.

For those of you who don’t know, Rian Johnson is the director behind one of my personal favorite (and in my opinion one of the best) episodes of Breaking Bad titled “The Fly.” The episode truly shows Johnson’s artistic vision, as well as he unique and undeniable quirkiness style of filmmaking. Now one is wondering why I mention this when this is after all, a movie blog (don’t worry, I’m getting to that).

So, I watched this episode, and I saw the director’s name, and it reminded me of a film he directed that I had not seen in a long long time. The movie was “Brick”.

“Brick” was a movie I had only seen a couple of times, and already knew it would stand as one of my favorites. When I first heard about it, all I was thinking was “Hey, isn’t that the kid from Angels in the Outfield?” (now that everyone forgets where the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt got his start ), but upon first viewing Brick I instantly fell in love with it. Day after I rented it on netflix, I instantly ordered it off amazon. But, this was a long time ago, and I hadn’t seen it for a good number of years.

And there it sat on my shelf for a while, and I kept wondering why I owned it. I forgot why I fell in love with Brick. Like most movie addicts (or maybe not) I very rarely rewatch movies on a consistant basis. I enjoy watching movies I haven’t seen in a long time or just never before. To my now present disgust, Brick became one of those movies, and today was time for it to be reborn in my mind. MY GOD was it worth the wait.

Every aspect about Brick is amazing, just a point blank statement. The music is mindblowingly good, the acting is phenomenal (Johnson got a steal with a young Levitt), and the crew made incredible uses of what most people would consider very common sets.  But, why should it stand out from the billion other indies that come out these days? The answer is because of its ingenuity.

All noir lovers would love to make their own noir films. The biggest problem of this is that noir is an overused genre. It’s the same old song and dance with the femme fatales and the blaring sax, and the monologues over a black and white picture. We all love it, but it’s very hard to make a unique story in a noir setting. This was the problem that faced Johnson. How could he make it feel fresh and new? The answer was simple, put a noir film in a high school setting, and make the characters talk like adults (most high school kids actually do that, believe it or not).

The result was an instant success, and it showed the major creativity and ingenuity that lied in Johnson’s head. The way tension builds, the flurry of different shots of crisp editing, and the characters get all the more interesting as the plot rolls on.

Most filmmakers can see that Brick was without a doubt a low budget film, but it also comes across that Johnson took that factor and embraced it to the fullest extent, and because of that, he had a great film on his hands.

Johnson is a writer with a great vocabulary. All of the characters lines and actions are so wonderfully unique, they just reek of that Tarantino style of cleverness many filmmakers attempt to replicate, but very few accomplish. I don’t mean to say that Rian Johnson is ripping from Tarantino, I just mean to say he is definitely one of the most unique writers since Tarantino gave us “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”. This also comes across in the way Johnson pours in countless noir homages, but, unlike Tarantino, is able to mask them better. Isn’t that right, Mr. Gittes?

So, let’s wrap this up, because this is becoming me completely brown nosing Rian Johnson’s work. “Brick” tells one of the best noir stories that are out there today. It rivals movies like “Se7en” and “Sin City” for being my favorite modern noir. Like those two, it has its own unique taste, and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its duration.

If you have not yet seen “Brick” or any episode of “Breaking Bad”, do your brain a favor and check them out.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Johnson’s next feature “Looper” which sounds like he is keeping up with his unique way of storytelling.