“Brick” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 8
“I’ve got knives in my eyes, I’m going home sick.”
The first film comparison that came to mind while watching Brick was that of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. It has the same type of unusual, anachronistic dialogue paired with teens.
I understand what director Rian Johnson is aiming for with the film – the hardboiled noir style – juxtaposed against the landscape of a California high school. Still, I can never get past the stilted delivery of the lines.
It’s as if all the actors are putting on a stage play for every scene, and reading their lines as carefully as possible. I don’t think it helps the movie – the archetypes and situations would still work without the dialogue getting in the way. It’s akin to a badly mixed pop song where the vocals are so present that you can’t enjoy the rhythm or the arrangement behind it. It’s overpowering, and suffocating.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does what he can in the role, but it’s still a lot of staring and spitting of words. The rest of the cast similarly do the best they can with what they’re given, but it’s hard to find the emotion underneath all the artifice.
I do see the similarity to films like the Coen’s Miller’s Crossing (which is much a better presentation of a similar tale), but I’m not sure it works as well as Johnson intended.
If this had been written using regular teenage dialogue, I think it would have been a much more successful film. Instead, it’s passed off as a gimmick to the festival circuit where this type of thing gets embraced with open arms. To me, it’s annoying and makes it nearly impossible to enjoy.
It’s a long way from Looper.
Brick was at the time of this review at #232 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #476 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Brick vs. The Secret of N.I.M.H.
A very dark children’s film. Very non-Disney. I liked it pretty well, even as an adult; I missed it, or don’t remember seeing it as a child. It will win over Brick.
Brick vs. Ghost
Ghost is sappy, and sentimental, and a “chick flick”, but it’s still a good story. Whoopi in particular is very good in the movie. Wins over Brick.
Brick vs. Robots
Robots is another oft-overlooked animated film, and a very different kind of tale with Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams at the helm. I have grown to like it more as time goes on. It’ll win the matchup.
Brick vs. De-Lovely
I’m a sucker for a good musician biopic, but this one isn’t one of my favorites. Still, it has good performances, and Kevin Kline nails it – as usual. It’ll take the battle over Brick.
Brick vs. Transformers
Even though it’s not as bad as its sequels, even the original Transformers was a pretty big let down. I’m going to give this one to Brick for its effort.
Brick vs. American Reunion
Yeah, Brick is certainly more original and better executed than any American Pie sequel.
Brick vs. Riddick
I expected a whole lot more out of Riddick. Pitch Black is fantastic, and Chronicles of Riddick is entertaining, if flawed. This most recent sequel however is sadly, pretty terrible. Brick wins.
Brick is now ranked #1293 out of 1378 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Coming up we have The Blues Brothers (1980), The Hit (1984), and The Vanishing (1988). You might be interested in the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.