If you are either like me or know someone who is like me than you have heard of Brick, Rian Johnson’s 2005 modern day film noir starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. In fact, for many of us film geeks Brick has been on our minds since the first we heard that Levitt and Johnson were collaborating again a year ago. So what’s the big deal? What is it about Brick that has us so excited about Looper? Here are the five things about Brick that make me really excited about Looper.
- Film Noir Done Right – It seems like once or twice a year someone tries to make a modern film noir movie, complete with private dicks and femme fatales and shocking twists and often a running voice over commentary (“She walked into my office, cold and wet with legs that made my knees weak”). People try to do noir and almost always they fail miserably. Noir is a tricky balance. It requires a world that is amoral and rotting without feeling dystopian. It has to be full of characters whose motives and allegiances are never clear. I needs a femme fatale, a jaded lead, a powerful big boss and above all else it needs a legitimate twist at the end (as great as Chinatown is it doesn’t really work without “She’s my sister … she’s my daughter … she’s my sister and my daughter”). Getting all of those elements to come together in color, where grays are not the rule, is a hard trick to pull off (film noir was THE genre before color film, there is a reason for that). Not only did Rian Johnson pull this off in Brick, he did it in a high school setting and made the whole of it feel entirely genuine.
- JGL Is Really Good – I think for many people Joseph Gordon Levitt (JGL is just faster to type) broke out of his Third Rock From The Sun shackles with 500 Days of Summer and then Inception, not for those of us who saw Brick in 2005. Rarely has a child actor shattered your preconceived notions of him as subtly and brilliantly as JGL does in Brick. It takes less than one scene for you to forget about Third Rock and 10 Things I Hate About You. And he does it not by having sex with Micky Rourke or pretending to be whacked out on all sorts of drugs and stealing a couple of stoners car, he does it just by being the jaded and jilted ex of a recently killed classmate who embarks on an investigation to find out what happened.
- The Brother’s Bloom – Rian Johnson followed up Brick with The Brother’s Bloom, a movie that isn’t as good as Brick but is still a lot of fun to watch. Perhaps more importantly The Brother’s Bloom showed that Johnson isn’t going to just keep remaking the same movie over and over. i don’t need Looper to be Brick, I’ve seen Brick. I want Looper to be something new, with different twists and a different feel, while still staying true to the quality that made Brick great. The Brother’s Bloom gives me faith he can do that.
- Norah Zehetner – You may not recognize the name and unless you are a Gray’s Anatomy fan or a Heroes fan (she also had a brief stint on Mad Men), but she plays Laura, the femme fatale of Brick, and does so flawlessly. Why should that make me excited about Looper? Because if Rian Johnson can make Norah Zehetner that good (not that she isn’t talented) I am really curious to see what he can do with Emily Blunt, an actress who I have liked but have yet to fall in love with. Rian Johnson might push Emily over the top.
- Lukas Haas – Lukas Haas plays The Pin in Brick. He is the big bad guy, a recently graduated kid who is the kingpin of this little high school world and he runs his empire from his mother’s basement. That all sound hokey, right? But Haas is terrific and terrifically creepy and pathetic all at the same time. That is what is so impressive about Brick. It sounds goofy when you try to describe it (watch my video trying to describe it below to see what I mean) but it works, entirely. How can I not have faith in a director and an actor who made Brick work?