Thursday, March 20, 2014

TBT: Brick

As a child  Rian Johnson was raised on the films of Scorsese and Fellini. When handed a VHS camcorder that's when his career started. The big bulky kind where the VCR needed to be attached and it was that he needed. All through high school he made short films with his friends. By the time he graduated high school he had an estimated 85 short films under his belt. I only had three. But, I made a trilogy that totaled a feature length film. So, there's that. But, this isn't about me and my brilliant trilogy. This is about how a neo-noir classic came to be.

Before Rian finished high school he read "Skywalking" by Gorge Lucas, which glorified the USC film program. So,it was decided, Rian would apply to the USC film program with his decent grades and his 85 short films. Sadly, however, he did not make it in to the USC film program due to low grades and the competitiveness of the program. Yet, he was accepted in to USC as a undeclared student. He ended up in the English department and sitting in on film classes. Through this maneuver he was able to make friend in the department and continue to make his own short films.  Rian applied to the cinema department a total of six times before he was accepted. He eventually, graduated on time before completing all of the course work for the film program.

Afterwards, he spent the next seven years working various jobs ranging from a mail room to a segment editor for the Disney Channel. All the while, his short film was bouncing around from festival to festival and the script for Brick was in his hand When he wasn't working he was trying to get Brick made.He had connections from USC who would circulate the script around film sets. Though, none of them were at the level to produce it themselves. Until, one day, the script wound up in the hands of a casting director, who championed the film. Eventually, $475,000 and the film was made over the course of 20 days. Sticking to the theory of shoot with what you have; a majority of the film was shot at Rian Johnson's former high school. So there you have it, Rian Johnson's career was started at San Clemente High School.

Brick is a smart neo-noir thriller staring that kid from Third Rock From the Sun and the kid from Witness. The cleverly layered script is briskly paced and keeps the viewer guessing. The dialogue is as sharp and witty as the lead character, Brenden. Brenden is brilliantly portrayed by a  budding Joseph Gordon-Levvit. Who delivers one of his finest performances to date. I would say Brick is a must own and a must see.

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