Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two worth watching. Or not

Here at the Warehouse, I watch out-of-date Netflix movies so you don't have to. Here are a couple of oddball gems I've found in the past couple of weeks:

Brick, released in 2005, is a strange blend of two genres: classic film noir and teenage angst. Imagine if Pretty in Pink (1986) had been written by Mickey Spillane. Brooding loner Brendan Frye finds his girlfriend dead, and spends the rest of the movie finding out how she got that way. The clipped, hardboiled dialogue is straight out of Double Indemnity -- no kids talk like this, and you're never quite sure if Brick is taking itself seriously or is nothing more than a sly sendup.

Either way, it kind of works and kind of doesn't. In one scene, our protagonist is meeting with a dangerous drug dealer when the dealer's mom wanders in to serve the boys orange juice and cookies. See, it's her house, and her son runs his drug ring out of the veneer-paneled basement. In another scene, Brendan cuts a deal with the authorities -- not the police, but the assistant vice principal at his high school. Funny stuff, but it's still film noir: People get killed and beaten and betrayed, and nobody comes out ahead.

Brick might not be for everybody, but it might be for you. Dave Bob says check it out.

Primer (2004) is another strange movie, unfolding mostly in a series of conversations between two young engineers who are working out of a garage to invent something -- anything -- they can sell for a lot of money. The two stumble on to a puzzling phenomenon that, on closer analysis, appears to be nothing less than the secret of time travel. Naturally, they put this amazing discovery to work enriching themselves in the stock market. Complications ensue.

It's more complicated than that, of course. Way more complicated. After a couple of viewings I still don't understand half of what happens in the film, but the low-budget visual style and earnest, barely-comprehensible discussions between the two protagonists make it all strangely believable -- and therefore engaging. Check it out sometime with a very smart friend in the room -- and keep your hand on the rewind button.

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