Archive for Brick

My new friend crush

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on November 26, 2009 by babydylan
Many of you might know, but I have a bit of an obsession I like to call a ‘friend crush’.

It pretty much means when you see someone in your class at uni, at your workplace, on the train, in the coffee line, complaing about all those goddamn skateboarders and are amused or intrigued by something they say, you develop a bit of a crush. Not a romantic crush, but more of an intellectual one. It’s less of a ‘I-want-to-take-you-somewhere-and-devour-you-crush’ and more of a ‘you-seem-extremely-facinating-and-I-forsee-us-getting-on-famously-so-let’s-bypass-the-getting-to-know-you-awkward-bullshit-and-hang-every-day-crush’.

And if there is one filmmaker I am desperately friend crushing on at the moment, it has to be Rian Johnson.

My new best friend

It all started last year when I finally got my hands on a copy of Brick, Johnson’s 2005 film. Originally I was intrigued by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, definitely a crushcrush and known for his roles in tv show 3rd Rock From The Sun, teen masterpiece 10 Things I Hate About You, Greg Araki’s unsettling Mysterious Skin and most recently non-rom-com (500) Days Of Summer. Yet on viewing the film I realised that Levitt was only one aspect of its appeal.

Levitt plays Brendan Frye, student at a southern Californian high school who receives a call from his ex-girlfriend asking for help and then finds her two days later lying dead in a sewage tunnel. Set in the world of a teen flick but with the tone of film noir, Frye is a modern-day Bogart trying to decipher the mysterious death. Sucking the audience into a world where students speak their own language, vice principals are kept in the dark by their pupils while drug-lords and their customers sometimes share glasses of milk with unsuspecting parents.

My very favourite moment from 'Brick'

Inspired by the hard-boiled writing style of Dashiell Hammet and influenced by noir films from his youth such as The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key, Johnson wrote the script in 1997 pitching it around Hollywood for ten years before being greenlit. A deeply personal film whose visual style is reminiscent of spaghetti westerns while following a plot similar to Chinatown, the mix of genres and styles makes for a unique film going experience. Sometimes high school feels like you tackle issues that are so much bigger than adults give you credit for and it is personified in this piece. School politics, social groups and general hierarchy are all given the weight they deserves without mocking youth, while the shots are elegant and simple – inspiring for those getting into film and for those who feel awash with seemingly trivial responsibility.

Which brings me to Rian Johnson’s latest offering, and reason I ‘want to go to there’, The Brothers Bloom. If Brick gave the audience a snapshot into Johnson’s somewhat lonely but intriguing adolescence, The Brothers Bloom is a fascinating look at the quirky, unique and oh-so-fun man he has become.  

Rian tells the cast to buckle up

Centred around two brothers (Mark Ruffalo as the elder Stephen and Adrian Brody as the most likely unintentional but nevertheless extremely good-looking younger) who are shuffled around from different foster homes as children in an adorable montage of quick-witted humour and delightful child acting. The boys develop skills as con-artists and spend their lives living out the fantasies older Bloom writes. Younger Bloom however, wants an ‘unscripted life’ yet is roped into one last con on gazillionaire Penelope played by Rachel Weisz, in yet another role with an annoying fake accent.

The characters are wonderfully loveable; zany Penelope who collects hobbies, calm and controlled Stephen who is cocky but never annoying, hang-dog Bloom who can’t seem to find happiness even in the simplest of things and best of all Bang-Bang played by Rinko Kikuchi who manages to steal the show while only uttering three words throughout. The set of exotic locations, the swoon-worthy costumes, and the timeless setting make for an intoxicating romp. The plot has more twists than Agatha Cristie smashed at an open bar, but as the film winds up, the plot doesn’t really seem to matter as you genuinely like all the characters. There are no bad guys, there’s only misguided steps and the best intentions.

The Brothers looking mighty fine

Although The Brothers Bloom doesn’t pack the same emotional punch as Brick, it still thoroughly charmed me, making me fall for Rian Johnson even harder. Apparently his next film is about time travelling hitmen set in Kansas and I am putting it out there, I can feel it will be mind-blowingly awesome.