One of the movies that flicked across my radar this last year, but which I did not see in theaters was the indie noir/high school movie “Brick”.
Noir and high school? Yes, the very same. I’ll explain how the homages are done.
Brick occurs in a nameless burg in Southern California ( Orange County, if my eyes deceive me not ) where the cliques of high school are all the more pronounced; more like gangs. There’s the dope crew, the jock crew, the drug kingpin and his muscle, and our outsider protagonist, the information gatherer, Brendan.
The crew speak in noir-ese, Sam Spade style, ya see? Brendan finds himself on the receiving end of several knuckle sandwiches and manages to rough up when he needs to rough up. In this, we see all the rules of the noir film lovingly re-created.
Now, the high school angle..Hm. Well, it’s interesting because it takes school from the mundane frustrations about homework and parties and drug use, and puts them all as the tip of a seedy noir iceberg. This is very good. On the other hand, the reality of high school is silly because the kids never wind up at school, the kids never wind up in detention. School is really only a backdrop.
ALTHOUGH it provides the venue for another noir convention: the rough meeting with the chief. In the noir movie this is when the PI meets up with his old police boss. The one that thinks he played it too loose when he was on the force, who toed the line when our hero trampled over the nice and neat bureaucratic machine.
And who else plays the chief, er, the principal. Richard Roundtree, that’s right SHAFT (John Shaft…) himself. That was excellent.