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April 17, 2006

The ape blows or I clam

Saw Brick this weekend - the hard-boiled noir flick set in a high school. It's not as narratively tight as one might hope from a detective story. But if you dig on the movie's core conceit and stylized dialog, there are high points that make it worth while.

(A favorite - the main character explaining to his assistant vice principal why he'd previously rolled over on another student: "I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.")

Being a modern noir, the movie is inherently referential. Since I'm not that well-versed in my classic noir allusions, I'm sure I missed most. But Brick is also a movie with funny-talking teenagers; if this were a genre, it would be my favorite.

While Heathers may be the genre's Great Old Man, I think it's clear that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is its apotheosis. And I've got a theory that the film's writer-director, Rian Johnson, is also a Joss Whedon fan.

Well, for one thing, he pretty much restates the Buffy mission statement in the Brick press kit:

A lot of high school shows and movies seem to me to have a very adult perspective on high school, the perspective of someone who is out of that world and is now seeing it in a slightly condescending manner. Once you get beyond it, it's easy to forget how you once were completely encased in its logic. Whereas when you're actually in it, and your head is completely encased in this microcosm, it's your world and it's a world you have to survive. And things seem, if not life-or-death, very important and mythical.

But I also think there's a nifty Buffy reference when Brick's femme fatale is introduced. We first see Laura Dannon seated at a piano, entertaining a party of upper crust high schoolers with a little night music/poetry reading. The poem she reads features a dominant rhyme on the word effulgent. Which, of course, is exactly the rhyme that William the Not-Yet-Bloody includes in an ode to his unrequited love (a line he later redelivers in the Angel series finale). It's such a bad rhyme that the mockery of it drives him into the dark embrace of vampirism. For real.

I can't find either the text of the poem Laura reads or any supporting evidence/theories that this is an intentional (which seems odd given the number of Buffy/Brick comparisons out there). But here's the relevant verse from Buffy (S5E7):
My heart expands,
’tis grown a bulge in it,
inspired by your beauty ...
effulgent.

9 comments:

accomplice said...

Are you going to join our movie night?
I need someone who loves motion picture as you do!

Jason Goldman said...

Sounds good! I'll do my best to be at the next one.

dgcopter said...

I guess I missed the bit in my English major classes where they talk about how bad rhyme schemes can turn you into a vampire.

Jason Goldman said...

That's what you get for going to a hippie school - they probably left out all kindsa good info.

Gyrobo said...

I one day thought I’d ill-invent
a word as dumb as “cromulent”,
used only by the corpulent.

So with a breath of anger felt,
my brainpan thus began to melt,
the synapses a sanding belt.

And out of that psionic vent
there came a word all mangled, bent;
its mere existence begged, “repent!”

It reached up high and shone with glory
like a fabled children's story.

“Why is this word so poorly wrent?”
you rudely ask; you must relent,
for it’s the best I could present
in haste at this very moment.
Besides, the word is translucent;
its beaming outlook gradient.
Why, it’s just so Effulgent.

Jason Goldman said...

Right on, Lord Gyrobo.

Gyrobo said...

I'm working on expanding that poem. The new one will be slightly longer and have pictures.

And the world owes it all to you, you inspiring San Franciscan, you!

Gyrobo said...

Finished!

accomplice said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds Goldman an inspiring San Franciscan.