Thursday, August 10, 2006

KBT Presents: BRICK

Noir. A genre of films which most folks my age (early 30s) are aware of, like say, the Western. I think that many of my generation know the tropes of the genre more than the individual titles, most of which were made between 1940 and 1958. While the bulk of the films involved urban crime and hard-boiled detectives (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity) the genre was malleable enough to include things like The Treasure of Sierra Madre, a film which probes down into the dark side of humanity with of the corruption of a basically good man. During the 1960s the genre was adopted by several French directors who molded many of stylistic elements during the 1960s in films such as Le Samouraï, Breathless or Alphaville (the proto-sci-fi noir which is now a genre unto itself). Chinatown in the 1970s was a bold period throwback which did the genre proud and is one of noirs most iconic films despite missing the era by over 25 years. The 1980s brought Ridley Scott's Sci-fi noir Blade Runner which movied the genre into the blockbuster era, David Lynch's surreal Blue Velvet and The Coen Brothers (big lovers of noir which form the basis over nearly half of their films) Blood Simple. The 1990s stylized things even more with the complicated film structures of Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects and Memento or unabashed love such as the Coen's Miller's Crossing and Fargo. The 21st century has taken the genre in two distinct directions. The graphic novel noirs of Road to Perdition, Sin City and A History of Violence and something completely new: The Teen Noir.

Perhaps this is too long an introduction for Rian Johnson's elaborate debut film Brick. Here is a film which maps the urban high and low social circles the loner anti-hero of typical noir cinema has to navigate onto high-school cliques. This was done quite well a year before with the TV show Veronica Mars, but Johnson takes the language, an aspect of the genre almost as important as the stark lighting, to a level that has only previously been explored by the Coen Brothers. It is a strange thing to hear modern California teenagers talk such sharp crisp antiquated modes of speech. The convoluted plot, the femme fatale, and all encompassing cynicism is all there too. It is a neat package which is a breath of fresh (smokey) air. It layers on complex emotional and moral problems on its young cast. While at first this may seem disingenuous, these are well off suburban white kids in their teens, how 'beaten-down-by-life' can they be. But what better way to reflect the youthful alienation and re-invetion of self image in a narcissistic culture than to make these teens the centre of their own universe? One which can only exist in the movies.

Come out for this unusual little sides-step of the genre, Thursday night 8pm for cocktails, 8:30pm for trailers and showtime.


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