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Brick - The Ex-Communicator

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October 10th, 2012


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07:28 am - Brick
I am watching Brick, by the same director as Looper, and also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's a very black comedy, one of the many, many versions of Red Harvest that have been made over the years. Red Harvest is a fascinating novel, probably in my top ten, and it has been made into several great films, but funnily enough none of them are called Red Harvest. Perhaps that's too obviously a socialist title. I am thinking Yojimbo, Fistful of Dollars, Miller's Crossing and Last Man Standing. I am sure there more I can't think of right now. This version authentically captures the gluttony for punishment of the main character, which is downplayed in the films with Willis and Eastwood and so on. He basically wins by abasing himself, and needlessly being knocked unconscious over and over again.

Anyway, the very bleak humour in this is that all the characters are school kids (though played by actors in their twenties). It's not like 'Bugsy Malone' - there's real violence. But it is very funny to hear noir dialogue, as you might recognise from scenes in other films between a police chief and a private eye, in the mouth of a Vice Principal telling a kid off for not going to class. Or the scene in Red Harvest where the 'private eye' is beaten unconscious by the henchman, followed in this version by the protagonists eating cereal in a kitchen under the watchful eye of the chief gangster's mum.

And yet, of course kids of this age do get killed, get pregnant, get addicted and exploited. And they aren't listened to. Just in the month I have been teaching there has been serious stuff happened to kids in my classes, which would challenge any adult. The use of highly stylised noir dialogue is, as I say, comic, but also provides a way for adults to see into the world of children, in adult terms. I would like to see more recognition that the suffering of children is as serious as the suffering of adults.

Turning it around, the restrictions and powerlessness of children enables the noir plot to unfold, and makes clear the alienation and futility which Hammett's communist novel was portraying.

(I'm actually posting this before I have seen the whole film, because I have to go to work now)

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:October 10th, 2012 12:22 pm (UTC)
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I love Miller's Crossing and also Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I have put Brick on my To Watch list.

I would like to see more recognition that the suffering of children is as serious as the suffering of adults.

More so, arguably, as adults have more life experience and resources (she says, generalising wildly) to cope with whatever bad experiences come their way.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 10th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
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Gordon-Levitt is in nearly every scene, and I think he does a good job.
[User Picture]
From:pointlessride
Date:October 10th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
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(spoilers for the film below)

you're not gonna believe this, but i was rewatching 'brick' a few days ago. the first time was in 2009, or maybe earlier, and because of my appreciation of emilie de ravin. but now - you know why this happened?
i was thinking about my top ten 'breaking bad' episodes, so i had to look through some of them, and i fell in love with 'fifty-one' completely; actually, i've found myself enjoying it in some familiar way - the way i'd rather enjoy 'fly' (my hands-down favourite), the way i enjoy all meditative and visually impressive films. it was hard to formulate (it still is), but something in the... mood, in the way of looking at things around, something in the souls of 'fifty-one' and 'fly' - yeah, souls! they seem soulmates to me, these episodes; anyway, i checked it on imdb and, well, they were directed by the very same man, :) the director (and screenwriter) of 'brick', as you might've guessed, rian johnson. :) and these are the only two episodes of 'bb' he did.
so i rewatched 'brick'... and i think one of the most breathtaking motives in rian johnson's work is an existense of something non-existent. an irreversibility of things happening yet an influence of things non-happening. like the unborn baby in 'brick' - it doesn't exist but somehow controls and changes world around, changes so many destinies. like the fly - it doesn't exist (well, ok, it does, but walt's problem has of course nothing to do with the real fly jesse kills (and jesse's sure as hell not aware of it), 'fly' as a token of walt's guilt, dirt, etc.), so, it doesn't exist - but changes so much, esp. between walt and jesse, jesse's so tender and unusually tactful with his aunt's possum, sleep pills and own-jacket-as-a-blanket things... as for 'fifty-one', skylar's plan of keeping children away from home doesn't exist - but at the same time it does, because represents itself as waiting for the cancer to come back.

Edited at 2012-10-10 05:01 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 10th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it was because of his work on Breaking Bad that I followed Abigail's recommendation to check out his other films. Fly is just about my favourite episode. I liek your analysis of the missing thing.

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