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Sun May 7, 2006
Not a goldbrick.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Film noir experiences periodic rebirth and rediscovery. Whenever we have any moment of deep societal rift or disruption in America, one of the ways we can express it is through the ideas and behavior in film noir." John Briley, cinematographer
In the film Brick, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school Bogart without Bogie's charisma or trench coat but with enough terse, wisecracking remarks to qualify for film noir status as a teen shamus a few miles shy of The Maltese Falcon yet close enough for Brick to win the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision in 2005 at Sundance. When Brendan says to some pothead thugs, "I got all five senses and I slept last night; that puts me six up on the lot of you," it's a noir home run.
Even femme fatale Laura's voice is too high to be mistaken for Bacall's. Yet the film feels at times like adult noir, looks like it with its constant beatings, and sounds like it with its ubiquitous trumpet moan. Lucas Haas as The Pin is homely enough to be a drug kingpin yet immature enough to keep this inventive takeoff still a teen version of some very gloomy Dashiell Hammett detective stories. Haas's
duck head cane and orthopedic shoes keep the tone closer to light than dark.
Brick is no goldbrick; it's a stylish "B" film with "A" film creativityabout a dangerously-active "brick" of heroin. It tells a challenging story with tough teenage argot spoken by engaging young actors.
Watch out though because it's bloody business dealing in drugs, be it teens or adults, knockoff or noir.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com