BRICK smashed through the motive-obscured plate glass window of classic film noir hangouts by moving from dingy city sidewalks in the 2a.m. rain to high school parking lots in laid-back suburbia’s sunny afternoons. Puffy private eyes, flatfoot cops and hulks named ‘Moose’ were grifted/grafted onto the persona’s of sass-soaked California teenagers moping and doping through the class recesses and cul de sacs of San Clemente.
“The ape blows or I clam.”
‘Brendan’ (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), tres bummed after losing his girlfriend (more so when he finds her face down in a drain conduit), climbs the perp chain with the help of ‘Brain’ (Matt O’Leary—at 17 the only member of the cast an authentic teenager, the rest are 21 to 29: some things never change). Enter vampish ‘Laura’ (Norah Zehetner), strategically slinking her bod where it can do the most damage and pulper ‘Tug’ (Noah Fleiss), thinking with his fists. They both have connections with “The Pin” (Lukas Haas, looking like Jonathan Frid from 60s TVs Dark Shadows) who is “supposed to be old, like 26.” Theater-class princess-to-be-worshiped ‘Kara’ (Meagan Good, delightfully nasty) and zoned-out ‘Dode’ (Noah Segan) may have puzzle pieces in what passes for their consciences. “He’s a pot-skulled reef worm with more hop in his head than blood.”
After seven years of pitching his script he’d written when he was 23, Rian Johnson scraped up $475,000 and directed his Hammett-inspired vision, dashing it off in 20 days. With the wised-up cast playing it straight (smirks would have sluiced its juice), scored for nerves by Nathan Johnson, eyeballed by Steve Yedlin on camera, Johnson locks & loads clips of quips around his surfer-breeding, Republican-run beach enclave. *
“See the Pin pipes it from the lowest scraper for Brad Bramish to sell, maybe. Ask any dope rat where their junk sprang and they’ll say they scraped it from that, who scored it from this, who bought it off so, and after four or five connections the list always ends with The Pin. But I bet you, if you got every rat in town together and said “Show your hands” if any of them’ve actually seen The Pin, you’d get a crowd of full pockets.”
A hit with critics, its edgy updated argot and calibrated punk patter riffed $3,900,000. With Emilie de Ravin, Brian J. White, and a-Shaft-that-people-still-talk-about-with-hushed-mouths, Richard Roundtree, looking slick at 62. When your Vice-Principal is Richard Roundtree, it’s pretty safe you can dig it. 109 minutes.
* Speaking of criminals, along with shame-fame as Nixon’s “Western Whitehouse” hideout, the city’s Mediterranean clime made waves for San Clemente High School to boast winning six of seven most recent National Scholastic Surfing Association titles. The 7th was won by Capistrano Connections Academy, located ‘where else?’