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LAist Watches: Brick

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San Clemente has never looked so seedy. The sleepy town just outside of Orange County is the backdrop for Rian Johnson's first film, Brick (note: Brick is an advertiser on LAist but this is not advertorial). We won't argue that the film should join the pantheon of great LA/So.Cal flickswe've been talking about recently or that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's just the best film we've seen this year.

There is something incredibly disarming and delightful in hearing contemporary high school characters speak in the machine gun dialogue of classic gumshoe movies. The mystery is tight and well-woven. The scenes between Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Lukas Haas are surprisingly strong and we found ourselves laughing with great enjoyment at scenes that should've seemed absurd but weren't. In a film that should feel gimmicky at times, the characters never wink at the audience, the story is never sold short and the atmosphere and mood are never forgotten.

We particularly liked scenes in which the escalation of intensity has to pause when the real trappings of teenage life step in (parents, vice-principals, school plays) for just a moment. Characters set to bash each other's heads in must wait as a mom serves juice and cookies. Deals must be made with school officials to continue investigating on campus. It's a kind of Buffy or Veronica Mars world with the stakes set much higher, much more real, much more desperate.

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And now anytime we drive past San Clemente, we might consider taking one of those off ramps and driving through hoping to catch just a glimpse of that dingy underbelly that Brick has led us to believe is there.

Brick is currently playing at the Arclight and a just a few other theatres locally.