Kenneth Hite (princeofcairo) wrote,
Kenneth Hite

The San Clemente Op

If you are a fan of Dashiell Hammett, every minute that you spend not having seen Rian Johnson's film Brick is a minute of your life thrown away.

On Friday, gracefuleigh, kaynorr, his_regard, gnosticpi, heathey, and myself saw it at the Landmark (convenient to the all-you-can-eat fish-and-chips at the Duke of Perth) and holy jumping cats was it good. (his_regard and I had meant to see it at the Chicago Film Festival last year, but the timing didn't work out or something, so I've been eagerly anticipating its wider release ever since.)

For those who aren't au fait with the indie film scene, Brick is a Dashiell Hammett novel (not any specific Hammett novel, just "a Dashiell Hammett novel") set in a San Clemente high school; the Sam Spade character is Brendan Frye, a high school student. The dialogue (in an invented patois of teenage slang and Bogart argot) and editing were as good as it is possible for two things to be; the acting, score, and direction only slightly behind that. Richard Roundtree's cameo as the assistant vice-principal is especially good, as is Lukas Haas, who achieves near-Sydney-Greenstreet levels of unbelievable credibility as "the Pin." The tone is perfect -- no sign of self-awareness, no sign of ironic detachment by the auteur. There are people who will complain about the washed-out palette, about the occasionally cruel humor, about the grimy morals of the main character, about the near-nihilistic tone, about the obvious answer to the mystery (obvious to those who know their Hammett anyway, which is to say obvious to the vast majority of the intended viewing audience). Those people deserve our understanding, but not our sympathy.

And it ends with the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" playing over the credits, a perfect Dominican cigar after the best diner meal of your life.
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A friend of boadiccea's worked on it:

As script supervisor, I think.

Yes, Liz was the scripty on it. I'll have to let her know about your positive comments, Ken.

And Chad? I've been wanting to see it, myself, ever since she told us about it last year. It's at Shirlington and the Hoffman.
Oh, and btw: *waves* Hi! Just realize that although you probably know who I am, we've never been introduced, so, nice to "meet" you.


12 years ago


12 years ago


12 years ago

I agree, mostly! I'm looking forward to the DVD release. I dunno if it was the theater (one of the Landmark chain) or the movie itself, but the sound was very spotty in places, which for a movie with that kind of dialog is a real shame. The "I've got all five senses..." scene was particularly hard to make out the first time. And I do remember thinking in one scene "what the hell is up with the score?" so I think the music overall could have been much better.

What did you make of the Tolkien scene? The movie has odd moments, but that one seemed out of character.

Those are all nits, though: it really is a great movie.
Re: the tolkien comment -- I think it was a bit quirky, but it also gave me a sense of The Pin as a young person... not a worldly-wise kingpin... kind of humanizes him for me in a way... which makes the way things play out for him impact me even more. If I didn't get that glimpse of him, I wouldn't care what happens to him. But I found myself really caring... about both him and Tug... the latter owing to Tug's scene when he's explaining things to Brendan, as he's sitting in the bathroom...

Hope this isn't a spoiler for anyone...
It gave me the sense of the Pin and Brendan, as they looked west over the sea, resignedly imagining something beyond their small world of inevitable and repeated betrayals-- but only as an acknowledged fantasy. It reminded me of Tolkien and Lewis's exchange about escape, and jailers, except that the jailer here is the noir milieu they live in. One of Tolkien's themes is hope amidst apparent hopelessness, but hope is as fantastic an idea to these characters as hobbits or elves would be. So the Pin evokes the idea of escape, for just a moment... and then they let it go, and go back to what they were doing.

(It's also possible that I'm reading in, or misreading, of course.)
Yeah, it was a really good film. Worth the wait.
It's been on my "to see" list for a bit now. Once it comes to Sacramento, I'll endeavour to catch it.
Just got word from the director that Brick is coming to the Crest Theatre in Sacramento this weekend.
its gracefuleigh... all one word... no underscore... only one 'L'. That is all.
Fixed in editing!
I tried posting this before but got an error -- hope it doesn't post twice.

I'm the friend that Boadiccea mentions above -- script supervisor on Brick.

I just wanted to pass on the addresses of the director's forum for the film. It's not just a fan forum -- Rian runs it, reads it answers questions. Kenneth, I know he would like to read your comments above.

Anyway the forum is at

And the film website is

And Rian's site is cool, too --

I'm going to see it tomorrow night for the fourth time. As a fellow forum member puts it, I'm "a-Brick-ted."
Give a call - my telephone isn't getting through.
A freemason using a submarine off the Pacific coast of Panama to hunt for treasure in 1865:,1518,412287,00.html

Hmmm . . .