ARCHIVE: from Idiot Ego Issue 1 (reprinted without permission)

Brick is director Rian Johnson's first feature, and damnit it nearly every single frame of it isn't all his. He wrote it, shot it himself in his hometown, and cut it himself (reportedly on a home computer,) all for the price of less than a million dollars. It's a detective story; Brendan's former lover is in trouble. She calls him, frantic, looking for help. Looks like Brendan's on the case. And away we go. Consciously, and superficially, it's a genre film. A Film Noir, to be exact, and basically it's all been done before. But it's never been done like THIS before. How so? Well, because Brendan's no Humphrey Bogart. He's just a kid (albeit an unusually smart and savvy kid). The characters in Brick are all in high school. Other than that, the genre remains intact; heavies, fall guys, informants, femme fatales, and everything else you might :expect are the story's components. But Brick is not quite as by-the-numbers as it might lead you to believe. I expected he tension and the mystery. What I didn't expect was the photography, the subtle humor, and the acting. Somehow, these players keep the film's conceit believable.

It's hard to be completely comfortable watching the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as some kind of hard-boiled teenage gumshoe on the prowl. In between the fist-fights and the phone calls, Brendan chews on lines like: "Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you." Thus, one's enjoyment of the film hangs on the not-so-small contingent that you can put that fact aside and have fun listening anyway. Now ten years out of film school, director Johnson is poised to take a place somewhere between Richard Kelly & David Gordon Green among the new young directors making smart movies for smart young people. It's damn entertaining and intense fun, even if you can't pull down every single thick chunk of detective-speak as fast as Johnson dishes them out. Watch it twice; first for the thrill of it all, and again to let the whole thing soak in. Never mind that kid at Hollywood Video who said it's the best film of the year. Young folks are excitable. Don't watch it because you liked Donnie Darko. Watch it because you liked Chinatown.

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