"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
"I've got knives in my eyes."

A few months ago I saw the trailer for Brick. I was hooked on the trailer, and probably watched it half a dozen times. It felt very noir, from the cinematography to the sparse dialogue.

I pre-ordered from Amazon and it came in this week. I watched it last night and was completely floored. I haven't seen a movie this good -- in any genre -- in a long time.

The crew, director, cast -- they definitely knew what the score was. The movie captures noir, both written and film, perfectly. All the cliches you expect to be there are, but like any good story they're twisted and curved, made new. The dialogue is awesome: Sparse and stilted, with the right amount sneer and bile dripping under broken hearts and bones. Brendan even slaps a guy into submission (the last paragraph).

The movie is set at a high school is southern California, but it's completely understated. The characters are what you expect to find in any hard-bitten, dog-eared Hammett or Chandler story. Maybe they wear a jacket with a felt letter on it; maybe they're hanging out in the library and worrying about a math test. But they're perfectly formed for the genre in all the ways that the 2001 Hamlet revisioning tried and failed. That this is not a re-telling or re-imagining, but a new story probably helps a bit in that regard.

The music is as understated and just as necessary as the setting... again, perfect. My only complaint is the choice of credits music, Sister Ray by the Velvet Underground. Very out of place and jarring; it fit in some ways, lyrically, but not in more.

I've only ever seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 3rd Rock from the Sun and Ten Things I Hate About You, but the dude knows how to roll in noir. "Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you." Delivery: Great.

The thing they did with the Brain at the end, in his last scene on the field... very cool..

The story feels really tight. It's convoluted, and the pacing is excellent. In the deleted scenes, you see all the extended versions of the scenes, or the scenes they reshot, and yeah, take a little out, and they got it to fit just right. And you know it's coming, what inevitably does, but it still hits you right in the gut.

The director says it was inspired by the stories of Dashiel Hammett, and that really shows through. Go buy it.

(And the soundtrack is on iTMS, which is frickin' sweet.)

(Oh, and so is the screenplay and novella. But really, yo. The movie.)

August 10, 2006 7:47 PM