Brick

Brick ★★★★★

Some takeaways from tonight’s revisit of Brick:

a.) The key to truly being on this film’s wavelength is appreciating its dialogue. Though the same can be said for virtually every type of noir Brick is referencing, I don’t think it would work as well if it didn’t so unironically stick to its guns and exist in a Dashiell Hammett-written reality the entire time. Doing so allows Rian to experiment with 1930s and 1940s slang in a way making this susceptible to repeat viewings, and is the earliest inkling of how the complex wordplay of the Benoit Blanc movies continues translating to a wide audience.

b.) Nora Zehetner, born in Texas, should've been in much higher-profile content. Between her roles in this film and The Brothers Bloom, she has this ethereal quality to her that’s hypnotic in the opposite manner of Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death. Powell and Pressburger tend to use Byron in a witchy style, whereas Johnson uses Zehetner as a bit of mysterious yet pure energy to break up any potential monotony of the tragedy underpinning his early crime stories. But considering he continues working with actor Noah Segan, cinematographer Steve Yedlin and former leading man (in smaller amounts) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she likely doesn’t care for the spotlight and I can respect that.

c.) The aforementioned Segan is a national treasure and we should stan him as much. He’s a big Warren Oates fan, which makes me love him even more than I did from Knives Out and other Rian vehicles.

d.) Yedlin and Rian’s symbiosis is visible and apparent from the first frame. There’s an energy to how both men toggle between the trippy daze Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) seems to process this dense mystery in, and the harsh reality his high school peers seem to exist within. These styles collide during an outstanding foot chase, multiple sequences of fisticuffs and the oscillations between flashbacks and new clues being found. As much as Rian has grown as a filmmaker since Brick, there’s no denying the atmosphere of his debut is unrivaled by any of his contemporaries or, rather, himself.

I should really revisit this one way more than I already do. It’s led by one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s best performances, concludes with a memorable gut-putch of an emotional uppercut and remains one of my deep-fried favorite films. Phenomenal.

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