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Brick: when his ex-girlfriend goes missing, a teenager goes prodding around in his school’s underbelly to try to find some answers. Given the high school setting and the film’s leanings towards a Noir detective story – where everything down to the dialogue & clothing of feels old-timey – you don’t really get many films with such a uniquely stamped style and feel. Borrowing so heavily from the Noir genre starts off quite refreshing, but becomes borderline tedious and annoying by the end – it’s also the film’s biggest downfall that anybody remotely familiar with the genre will see the major twist way, way before it’s revealed. The olde vernacular and slang-heavy dialogue also flips and flops between cool and stupid, as some parts become hard to follow, given the speed of delivery and unfamiliar phrasings. The adherence to Noir also means that the characters are simply drawn – one-dimensional – and overly familiar. The film’s stupendously shot: light in particular is used superbly throughout to add crazy good detail, depth and subliminal characterisation – especially during the indoor scenes. It’s also full of nice little touches, details and tricks that raise it above your average genre rip-off picture. As a crime story Brick pretty good, but it’s a film that is 100% defined  as a modern take on 60-year-old conventions: sure it’s unique, stylish, funny and entertaining, but it’s also predictable, clichéd and full of stock characters because of its rigid adherence to the Noir genre. The positives do outweigh the trappings, making Brick worth a watch.

Score: 7/10

Contraband: a struggling ex-con must secure his family’s safety by doing one final smuggling run. Being a re-make of Rekjavik-Rotterdam, Hollywood does what it does best and strips out a lot of the smaller background stories, characters, undertones, and relationships that thickened up the original plot, and raised the stakes a little more. Wahlberg‘s steady, but disappointingly typecast as the everyman, and costume-wise, could be from any previous film. This is all minor compared to Giovanni Ribisi, what the fuck is he doing!? His lines were delivered in the most ridiculous accent I’ve heard in years. The rest of the supporting cast really do keep the film propped up, although nobody’s particularly stretched. It’s well-directed, with the urgency maximised and lots of nice shots that play with focusing – it feels quite European / independent. There’s a decent gunfight in the middle (audio is immense) and in true modern heist fashion lots of loose ends are tied up in the final 15 mins. Unfortunately, New Orleans felt like an excuse for decent music, and nothing more. As expected, this is pretty much a cut-down, edges-smoothed, version of the original. It’s decent, but I’d suggest seeking out the original instead.

Score: 6.5/10