Published on September 23rd, 2013 | by Dan Gvozden



“Stream My Reels” is a weekly column that will feature one recommended streaming title from many different sources (Netflix, OnDemand, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.).

Relocating the language and stylings of a Dashiell Hammett novel to a modern high school might at first glance seem like a novel idea for a spoof of the noir genre, with few potentials for real drama.  Instead, Brick makes it one of the best combinations since peanut butter and jelly.  Rian Johnson’s incredible knowledge of the genre cleverly highlights all the of the key elements of high school and successfully reappropriates them to fit within the confines of 40’s and 50’s noir drama.

Suddenly where one sits for lunch and the clubs they are a part of operate like gangland culture and you better watch out for when the VP (Vice Principal) comes knocking on your homeroom door.  All of the integration is clever but is almost secondary to the language Johnson created for this film.  Brick throws its audience headfirst into a fully realized world with characters spouting off lines about “reef worms” and “Coffee and Pie: Oh My!”  It is a lot to take in initially but the film holds the audiences hand and guides them through their understanding of the world, only to reward on later revisits to the film.

50-very-short-movie-reviews-L-Q_TZjBAll of this care is applied to every element that makes up Brick, a film that only continues to grow in my mind almost seven years after I initially saw it.  This care for detail should be no surprise to anyone who is fans of Looper, The Brothers Bloom, and my favorite episode of Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias.”  Johnson’s been on a complete winning streak, creating unforgettable imagery and genre-busting movies.  It all started here and Brick, in my mind, is still his best work.

The film was shot in 35mm for under $500,000 but it still manages to amaze, even in its simplicity.  The plot is intricate and always engaging, but even more, the visuals are always sizzling and packed full of allusions to the films of era that he is imitating.  Heck, there’s even some Blue Velvet to be found on the tip of the character’s cigarettes.  There might be nothing more fun than a drug kingpin, called The Pin, whose mother drives him around in a van whose rear has been transformed into an office, complete with shaking desk lamp.

The film itself is anchored by incredible performances with the shining star being the, at the time, reinvented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose detached persona  as Brendan easily makes his attendance to a high school believable.  Gordon-Levitt takes the punches and powers his way through some really serious confrontations and his dogged insistence is never questionable.  Brick is playful, haunting, and best of all just a darned good yarn.

“Samsara” is now available for instant streaming on Netflix Watch Instant.

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About the Author

Do you remember that dorky kid from elementary school who loved movies and comic books? Dan's him, but an adult... well in most senses of the word. All that matters is that he's an aficionado of all things pop culture and wants to share his interests with the world.

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