Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Respectfully Disagree: Brick

"I much...homework."

Dear Kevin,

Brick is a film I've watched five or seven times since 2006. More than once a year at this point. I'm probably going to keep that up. Why? Because this is one of my favorite films. I was on the fence about it for a while, I couldn't tell if it was definitely one of my favorite films, but now I know in my heart Brick is one of my favorite films. Why? All of it. Beginning with the schtick. A hard-boiled detective, fast-talking to boot, who happens to be a highschooler obsessively investigates his ex-girlfriend's death in a world of other interesting, fast-talking characters. That's what the movie is. It's a noir story set in a high school. That's just what it is. And I like that a lot. The schtick, no matter how much of a schtick it is, works because the story is fascinating, and the characters are both believable and captivating. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a perfect bitter detective, a badass in his own realm, which is quite small. Matt O'Leary, The Brain, plays Levitt's inside guy, the one with the information, and he's witty, and awkward, and adorable. Nora Zehetner is an enchanting young femme fatale. Lukas Haas, The Pin, with his clubbed-foot, is an awesome shadowy drug lord. What I'm saying is the cast is great. They make the schtick work. WHY? Because Rian Johnson is a good director. Or a great director, maybe. And writer. The dialogue is great. Even when I can barely keep up I can keep up, and motivations are given at exactly the right times, and the motivations all make sense, and the characters say exactly what they should, because they know what they do when they know it. If the story and the acting doesn't float your boat, the visuals surely should. Steve Yedlin's cinematography is amazing. It is. The blues, the greys, the whites. The lighting, well, the lighting makes every scene feel like it's taking place just before dusk, and it's not. The special effects on some of the fight scenes, or the dream sequences, are incredible. I cannot fathom how they pulled it off, all those occasions. I'm glad about that. Oh, and things are wide so often. He uses his wide like a phoenix. And to finish it all off, I think this film's score is one of the most effective scores I've yet heard. The chimes, the other percussion, I mean, it's hauntingly good. Also, the chase scene is one of my favorite chase scenes. Claaaang.

Eric T. Voigt

Dear Eric,

Watch it as many times as you like. I will jump off the fence and run in the other direction. I think the mere fact that you keep referring to a "schtick" illustrates a big problem I have with this film: it's as if the filmmakers said, "Hey, this is a noir set in a high school! What a concept! Now, let's pump our film with all the trappings of a noir and just roll with it rather than concern ourselves with an intriguing story." So, I'm sorry, but I just don't think the "schtick" works, at least not well enough to save an uninteresting film. As I followed Joseph-Gordon Levitt's "badass" (I get it, he's a tortured soul, now can he go brood in the background somewhere?) I kept arriving at the same thought: I don't care about this mystery or any of the characters involved, because these kids are in HIGH SCHOOL, and it's really hard to take high schoolers as seriously as Johnson expects us to take them in Brick. I honestly think this film would have worked much better as a dark comedy, and I suppose some would argue it already is, but I really think the drama is laid on too thick here. I'm not even going to entertain your argument on the cinematography, because without an engaging story/ideas/characters to back it up, who cares? I'm glad you enjoyed the score; it didn't effect me, though.

With love,
Kevin Kern


  1. If you "won" our "Blue Velvet" argument I won "Brick". We're tied on "Blade Runner". So, how do you want to do this? Should we make lists of films that start with C that we like, and see if there are any we disagree on? Should we try and find B followed by a letter after r films one of us doesn't like? I like this segment. It's the only thing keeping us alive.

  2. "C" would be good. Also, you definitely did not win "Brick." Just because you unabashedly gushed over it for too long doesn't mean you won. And post a fucking picture in the middle.

  3. Unabashedly gushed over the film because of everything that makes it a great film. Yeah, I guess I did do that. Fuck you. Added picture. "C" it is.