Six years in the making, budgeted under $500,000 and sold at Sundance after receiving the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision, Rian Johnson’s Brick is the kind of movie you need to see in the theater. There are no special effects, no stars, and you won’t understand a lot of the dialogue, but every once in a while a movie comes out that deserves more attention than it’s likely to get. I’m talking about the likes of Reservoir Dogs, El Mariachi, Clerks, She’s Gotta Have It, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
Being a connoisseur of classic film noir, I pimp all films that pay homage to the genre. Chinatown and Miller’s Crossing are favorites. Brick is nowhere near as beautiful as its sisters, but it transports all of the elements we love—the femme fatale, the crime boss, the muscle he can’t control, the lone wolf always one step ahead of the action, the politics of violence—to this day and age wonderfully. The vocabulary blends the vernacular of Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart with the conspicuously coded speak of high school students, the characters carrying out this drama. Richard Roundtree barks his banter as the sole adult authority figure. Lucas Haas perfectly underplays the clubfooted, caped kingpin. In every scene, Joseph Gordon-Levitt guarantees your investment in the absurd world his protagonist negotiates.
The value here is how not like the crap we’re used to seeing this film is. Refreshing, surprising, unlikely—however you want to categorize it, this movie is the kind you have to see so that it will be seen. It’s only showing in New York and Los Angeles and if we don’t ante up, more films like this aren’t going to get distribution deals. By doing nothing, you’re asking for less…and you’re going to get it. Besides, it’s a really good movie.