Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Brick, Andre and a Brave New World

How about my man Andre Agassi? I'm gonna start calling him the Comeback Kid.

Brave New World

Just to show you how behind I am on my comic book reading, I just read this. The series it promotes are already a few months old I think, a bit late for me to be jumping on probably. All for the better I think though. The only story that was even slightly appealing was Winnick's take on Shazam. I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for the new Atom, the OMAC series looks like so much other crap that has come before. The Creeper seemed like a decent start, but that character just does nothing for me. Martian Manhunter...I just don't like the guy outside of the cartoons, and Uncle Sam felt like a re-hash of what they did with the JSA years back, and I just don't care. So, it wasn't a terrible wast of a dollar, but not a very good one.


Brick is a movie that defies modern description. I can take 99% of the movies made in the last 10 years and say "This is ____ meets ____ ." For instance? Jason Statham's new flick Crank- Speed meets Innerspace. See, pretty simple. The only movie I can point to for comparison with Brick is The Maltese Falcon, and that really is unfair to both films. Other than the crime-noir aspects they don't have too much in common. Except after watching Brick I can only think that this is what the people must have felt like walking out of the theatre in 1941. But, MF had been adapted once before in 1931, and it's based on a novel. Brick is a completely original work by writer/director Rian Johnson. His only other credited work is a short film titled Evil Demon Golfball from Hell, so I guess Brick is his debut feature film. And, as debuts go, it has to rank among the top.

The film is a throwback to those classics noir films like Maltese Falcon. The character speak in a very distinct dialogue and the movie doesn't have a single swear in it, but there are some pretty violent scenes, which I'd imagine is where the R rating comes from. The greatest thing about the movie may be that Johnson is able to...downsize? That might be the best way I can put it. Downsize the atmosphere of a city like Chicago or New York (or, at least the '30s stylizations of them) and bottle it up into a high school setting. And if that might not make sense right now, after watching the film, it will

Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a (surprisingly) stellar performance as Brendan, a high school loner who investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend after a mysterious phone call. He soon discovers her involvement in some shady dealings and gets himself further and further into a mess he may not be able to get out of alive.

Lukas Haas plays The Pin, the local pusher and possible cause of all the trouble, and you can just feel him channeling Sydney Greenstreet. It's an inspired performance and he almost steals the movie away from Gordon-Levitt. The rest of the cast is filled out nicely, most of the actors are unknown's to me, but I recognized a few faces from the teen dramedy scene. Narah Zehetner is excellent as Laura, and the two Noah's (Fleiss and Segan) as Tugger and Dode (respectively) are brilliant. Richard Roundtree plays one of the few adults in the film (the only other I can recall right now is The Pin's mom). Roundtree is the film's lone voice of authority, only instead of being a cop he's the assistant vice principle. And since Hollywood is so keen on nominations and awards for excellent, but extremely short performances, I'm crossing my fingers that Roundtree gets nominated for at least a Golden Globe this year (the movie might have fallen under last year's awards, but I'm never sure of those things. I can still hope!).

Though the movie is largely serious, it's not without its moments of brevity. The absolute best of which comes in a meeting between Brendan and The Pin. As the two stare at eachother across a dining room table, with Pin's goon looking on, Pin's mother repeatedly attempts to offer Brendan juice. It's not only hysterical (trust me, it is), but it grounds the story back in reality. It's one of the best scenes in any film I've seen this year.

From beginning to end Brick is a masterpiece of modern cinema.

Go Agassi!!!!



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