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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Rian Johnson, 2005)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Bergman Lustig Productions
Video: Optimum Home Entertainment / Alliance / Kino Lorber
Region: 'B'-locked!Region 'A'-locked / Region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:45:20.400 (4% sped-up)/ 1:49:48.039 / 1:50:03.763
Disc Size: 21,303,406,496 bytes / 23,154,001,843 bytes / 35,043,794,513 bytes
Feature Size: 21,098,766,336 bytes / 22,849,179,648 bytes / 32,946,284,544 bytes
Video Bitrate: 17.96 Mbps / 18.00 Mbps / 33.93 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 21 / 9
Case: Standard Blu-ray (thicker UK) case / Standard US Blu-ray case / Standard Case
Release date: July 20th, 2009 / August 16th, 2011 / January 7th, 2019
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 /1.85:1 / 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080i - 25 fps /1080p / 23.976 fps / 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video (all three)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1648 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1648 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4018 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4018 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 4043 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4043 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1957 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1957
kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• DVD included with Alliance
Audio commentary by writer/director Rian Johnson,
actors Nora Zehetner and Noah Segan, producer Ram Bergman,
production designer Jodie Tillen and costume designer
Description: A detective story set around a California high school, BRICK dares to combine the teen and film noir genres. In mixing these two disparate worlds, Director Rian Johnson creates many comically jarring and ironic moments. When loner Brendan Frye (a barely recognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt of THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN) gets a desperate-sounding call from his ex-love Emily (Emilie de Ravin), he feels compelled to help her, plunging himself into the seedy world of teenage crime that pulled her away from him in the first place. Throughout this journey, Brendan plays a hard-boiled type reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's iconic Sam Spade character. Johnson's script invests heavily in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and is filled with other archetypical characters like the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner), the eccentric crime lord (a brilliant Lukas Haas), and the dame in distress. As teens trade in their cell phones for things as old-fashioned as pay phones and 1940s gangster vocabulary, occasional references to detention and first period provide a humorous contrast with the otherwise unbelievably complex, precocious, and largely parentless world that these teens inhabit. With its heavy reliance on references to old noir classics like THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP, the film may risk alienating viewers not familiar with these older films. Seeing teenagers speaking in coded detective-movie-style lingo is entertaining, but mixed with the often overlapping, fast-paced but muttered dialogue, it also proves to be distracting at points. People eager to see a predictable teen drama may be confused by BRICK, as its goal is to turn the genre on its head, earning inevitable comparisons to films like 2001's surreal teen fantasy DONNIE DARKO. Because of the film's attention to detail and witty yet hard-to-follow dialogue, BRICK may be better appreciated on second viewing.
You will forgive me for reaching back 35 years for a quotation to open this review of "Brick," since the movie itself is inspired by hard-boiled crime novels written by Dashiell Hammett between 1929 and 1934. What is unexpected, and daring, is that "Brick" transposes the attitudes and dialogue of classic detective fiction to a modern Southern California high school. These are contemporary characters who say things like, "I got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you." Or, "Act smarter than you look, and drop it."
What is the audience for this movie? It is carrying on in its own lifetime a style of film that was dead before it was born. Are teenage moviegoers familiar with movies like "The Maltese Falcon"? Do they know who Humphrey Bogart was? Maybe it doesn't matter. They're generally familiar with b&w classics on cable, and will understand the strategy: The students inhabit personal styles from an earlier time.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
This transfer is interlaced (1080i) and is running at 25 fps. I don't think this exports a dramatic weakness in the final visual presentation. The film itself shows Indie grit and a less-polished edge. It was probably never meant to look glossy and pristine. Suitable to the tone of Brick the transfer exports a darker image and colors never leap off the screen. This Blu-ray looks superior to DVD but probably isn't a prime example to showcase the format. Detail is never crisp but some outdoor scenes look the most impressive with hint a of depth. This is single-layered with a modest bitrate and I don't think it's a candidate for re-purchase if you already own the DVD. This is despite the fact that it's the best looking digital appearance of the film - although I suppose it may surface in Region "A" one day - done with more care in regards to to the video transfer.
The Alliance transfer is superior - not simply a marginally higher bitrate/file size but it is progressive (NOT interlaced) and in the, un-bastardized, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Visually it is slightly brighter but the color scheme is supported but has cooler skin tones and detail is the same. Like the Optimum there is still some noise. The Alliance also runs in the correct theatrical running speed (approx. 24 frames per second).
Finally someone has done 'Brick' to Blu-ray with the rendering the film deserves! Kino Lorber's transfer is via a "Brand New 4K Restoration Supervised by Director Rian Johnson." You can see how superior the image is in our matched captures below. The visuals are darker with far richer colors and contrast. There is a blue leaning but I never found it intrusive. It is housed on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate and every facet of the 1080P presentation improves from detail to grain support. I love this Neo-Noir and am thrilled with the new 4K-restored HD video!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Subtitle Sample - Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
More Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Captures
(CLICK to ENLARGE)
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1648 kbps has some kick but I also suspect a more dynamic mix could have brought some further presence to the track. I actually tested the LPCM 2.0 channel option and liked it enough to stick with it a while. The violence can pack a surprising wallop and while the track gives some oomph - I can't help confess the feeling that it is as lackluster as the image. There are no optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Significant upgrade in the audio with a powerhouse DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4018 kbps. It is crisp and has some formidable depth. The Alliance also offers a French DUB. Another area where the region 'A' disc surpasses. It also does not offer subtitles.
The audio is also impressive with the optional of 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround via DTS-HD Master tracks. The score, credit to Nathan Johnson, and the other music; The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze from "The Mikado", Frankie & Johnny performed by Bunny Berigan, Brain Hammer performed by The Hospital Bombers Experience, Sister Ray by The Velvet Underground is eclectic and fitting for the most part but the effects are exported with strength. Kino add optional English (SDH) subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray disc.
None - which is unfortunate as the film warrants a commentary - as found on the single-disc US DVD edition HERE. All we are given is a kind of cool menu:
No extras as well but the Alliance does offer a DVD of the Feature in the package.
We get an audio commentary by writer/director Rian Johnson who talks about his inspirations from Dashell Hammet and the Coen's Miller's Crossing and the strong reference to Film Noir... but in High School (actually his old High School was where Brick was shot) and how he wrote it right after film school and went to family and friends to raise $500,000 - the smallest amount to make the film, it's delicate tone. he is eventually joined by actors Nora Zehetner (describing the shoot as a 'hippie camp') and then, individually, Noah Segan, producer Ram Bergman, production designer Jodie Tillen and costume designer Michele Posch providing further input. There are also 8 deleted and extended scenes (w/ introduction by Johnson) running over 20-minutes and "The Inside Track" the casting the roles of Laura and Dode with their screen tests. Lastly, is a trailer.
Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray -RIGHT
Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Still an enjoyable film experience and nice to have it with its superior presentation attributes.
Brick gets better each time I see it, and this Kino Blu-ray is, by far, the best way to enjoy this unique and addictive film experience. Great a/v, commentary and more - this has our highest recommendation!
August 17th, 2009
September 14th, 2012
December 19th, 2019
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze