Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The noir saga continues with Brick

I'm really enjoying my noir film series. Last week it was Vertigo and the essay question is this: Choose one of the four major characters and analyze their relationship to sin and guilt and how it affects the film as a whole. They're due tomorrow so we'll see how that goes. I told them if the majority of the class fails to turn in the assignment we will not be watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? after Thanksgiving.

This week, however, I showed Brick. I was blown away by how into this movie they were, I think partly because they were just confused enough to want to know what was happening, but not so confused that they didn't care. Even the kid who never turns anything in and sleeps through everything was watching, except he was also annoying the shit out of everybody by asking what was about to happen every thirty seconds. I think I'll encourage him to go back to sleep.

I know my inundation with noir film is working because when the seductress walked onscreen I said, "If this is a film noir, who is she?" and I heard about five or six voices yell out, "The femme fatale!" That's how you know it's working.

I also taught them the difference between a studio film and an independent, and why everything in the film looks blue and how the empty looking school serves to heighten the isolation of the characters and how the sudden jumps from extreme close-up to extreme wide angle also move toward expressing isolation. I knew that film was good, but I don't think I realized until today how technically interesting Brick is. And now the kids realize it too.

I promised them an essay topic on Brick tomorrow, but as of right now I have no idea what I'm going to ask. I'll figure something out at the last minute. I'd like to ask them to write analyze any aspect of the film the want, because I feel like there is so much there worth examining but they can't handle that kind of vague prompt.

I really wish I could just sit around all day and show cool movies and talk about them and not have to worry about grades and shit.


  1. But that would be less like school and more like the mall multiplex...

    Seriously, though - all too many people see film as a "disposable" medium just because it hasn't been around as long as the written word, the painting, the sculpture, etc. Some would even argue that video games are the next creative medium - story, setting, theme, characters; all the elements of storytelling, and it's interactive.

  2. Brick was great. I loved the way the nerdy protag was so indefatigable and world-weary; he knows what 'ennui' means, for sure.
    I did not like the way they cheated out the audio in the last scene. Maybe it was just my copy; I don't think so. If you're telling a story to me, you shouldn't get all shy at the climax.

    Possible question: why wouldn't our school work as a setting for Brink or another noir film? What factors does it lack?


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