Brick (2005) / The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Published on July 20th, 2011

Alex recommends two movies directed by Rian Johnson.

Sometimes you might want to watch two movies in one night. And on some of those times you might want those two movies to have a related theme, such as ‘movies about a road trip through Latin America,’ ‘Seth Rogen movies when he isn’t pudgy,’ or ‘movies starring Gary Oldman as a dwarf.’ Well, next time you’re looking for a theme night, feel free to choose one of those, or you could engage in a much more conventional sort of auteur night. And if you choose that option, the films of Rian Johnson are a pretty smart choice.

When it was released, Brick was one of the coolest movies made in years, and it still is six years later. And when I say cool, I mean it is fucking cooooool. It is a film noir that takes place in a modern high school, the writer/director spells his name ‘Rian,’ and the movie even stars skinny tie enthusiast Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The dialogue is appropriately noiry, the music appropriately spacey, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is appropriately Joseph Gordon-Levitty. The mystery aspect of the film is well done, and while this movie could have been shot as a traditional noir with very few changes to the script, that it takes place in a high school adds an interesting stylistic element. Honestly, I can’t say anything more that that the trailer doesn’t say about 10 times better. I highly recommend Brick if you’re looking for a stylish, engaging mystery, and if you need a film to follow that up with, I suggest Rian Johnson’s own follow-up, The Brothers Bloom.

Starring the not-at-all-foxy Adrien Brody, moderately-foxy Mark Ruffalo, and super-foxy-times-a-thousand Rachel Weisz, The Brothers Bloom is a hard movie to explain. Its premise doesn’t boil down as well as Brick’s ‘film noir set in high school’ concept does, and The Brothers Bloom’s awful trailer proves that. I suppose the best way to describe Bloom would be to call it a heist movie as directed by Wes Anderson; the familial aspects are present, as are the awkward power-zooms, humour and stylish leads. Every time I watch the movie, I’m still surprised by just how damn funny the whole thing is, and the heist aspects are almost as entertaining as the character aspects.

 

So actually, you should probably just watch Brick and The Brothers Bloom, whether you’re looking for an auteur-themed movie night or just need two good movies to watch. And in response to all of the sure-to-be-forthcoming e-mails about these movies, I only have one thing to say: “You’re welcome.” And while I have you here, I feel as though I should recommend you check out this cool video by the band Mountain Goats, directed by Rian Johnson.

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