Blu-ray Brick [Blu-ray/DVD] (Blu-ray 15967511),
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A detective story set around a contemporary California high school, BRICK dares to combine the teen and film noir genres. In mixing these two disparate worlds, Director Rian Johnson creates many comically jarring and ironic moments. When loner Brendan Frye (a barely recognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt of THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN) gets a desperate-sounding call from his ex-love Emily (Emilie de Ravin), he feels compelled to help her, plunging himself into the seedy world of teenage crime that pulled her away from him in the first place. Throughout this journey, Brendan plays a hard-boiled type reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's iconic Sam Spade character. Johnson's script invests heavily in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and is filled with other archetypical characters like the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner), the eccentric crime lord (a brilliant Lukas Haas), and the dame in distress (de Ravin). As teens trade in their cell phones for things as old-fashioned as pay phones and 1940s gangster vocabulary, occasional references to detention and first period provide a humorous contrast with the otherwise unbelievable complex, precocious, and largely parentless world that these teens inhabit.
With its heavy reliance on references to old noir classics like THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP, the film may risk alienating viewers not familiar with these older films. Seeing teenagers speaking in coded detective-movie-style lingo is entertaining, but mixed with the often overlapping, fast-paced but muttered dialogue, it also proves to be distracting at points. People eager to see a predictable teen drama may be confused by BRICK, as its goal is to turn the genre on its head, earning inevitable comparisons to films like 2001's surreal teen fantasy DONNIE DARKO. Because of the film's attention to detail and witty yet hard-to-follow dialogue, BRICK may be better appreciated on second viewing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Meagan Good, Emilie de Ravin, Noah Fleiss, Noah Segan, Jonathan Cauff, Lucas Babin
3 stars out of 4 -- "Johnson plunges off the deep end, risking ridicule by shaping this spellbinder with grit and gravitas....Johnson's BRICK is the stuff that dreams are made of."
"This high school film noir deserves credit for novelty. Writer-director Rian Johnson also has a rare gift for language."
Movieline's Hollywood Life
"BRICK takes two very disparate genres, film noir detective mysteries and high school dramas, and melds them into one intriguing premise, with original dialogue and a distinctive visual style."
"BRICK is all about style and sass....But Johnson also grabs hold a fundamental truth and seduces us with it: the schoolyard can be the noirest burg of all." -- Grade: B+
"While BRICK is chock-full of the characters, language and imager of classic noir, it is in fact set among contemporary teenagers."
4 stars out of 4 -- "The most eccentric feature to emerge from the US indie scene in years....One of the pleasures of 2006."
4 stars out of 5 -- "Johnson creates a complex, sophisticated thriller that audaciously fuses two disparate genres....Gordon-Levitt delivers an intense and focused performance."
"Johnson pulls his hipster revisionism with cine-savvy brilliance and twitchy laughs....Bursts of action arrive with a wallop..."
"What it borrows from noir is not simply a set of style cues, but a sense of obsessiveness, solemnity and encroaching social breakdown, which serves as a satisfying metaphor for the self-enclosed, self-regulating society occupied by teenagers."
Sight and Sound
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