This weekend, at the suggestion of some of my co-workers, I went to see Brickat the Bear Tooth. While I felt really disturbed during some parts of the movie and I walked away from it with very mixed feelings, I found afterward that the more I thought about the movie the more I liked it.
It's an innovative movie if for no other reason than it takes a genre of movie long-forgotten or even never-known by theater-goers and casts it in a totally new setting that also makes you realize that the people that made this movie knew to not take themselves too seriously.
This elusive genre that I speak of is film noir (or, for you literary types, the hard-boiled detective story when in print). All the classic elements are there: the strong, crafty, unemotional detective main character who keeps his cards close and unreadable to others, revealing a minimum about himself. You aren't even sure whether he would be classified as "good" or "bad" -- you just know that he's your protagonist. You have your helpless female victim. You have the classic femme fatale, so dark and sultry, playing on the idea of the succubus that uses her sexuality shamelessly to get what she wants, and you know you shouldn't trust her even though (or perhaps precisely because) she's got her seduce-o-ray on full blast. You've got your bad guys who are so unmistakably bad that even though you don't know how to classify your detective, you still know that these guys have got to be worse. And of course you have your cop figure, always at odds with the detective, cramping his style, almost messing things up in the process but trying always to do the right thing. The cop is so good that it casts the moral questions of our main character even further into doubt.
Classic hard-boiled detective story, Sam Spade and all, right?
Well, it would be, if the characters weren't largely high school students. That's part of what makes this so interesting though -- and of course is what lends the edges of humor so unexpectedly into the dialogue. I can't say too much here without giving out some spoilers and the really great quotes would look really cheesy out of context of the back-and-forth banter that our protagonist excels at.
It's not really my style to be writing about movies anyway. I felt that this one was smart enough to be labeled as great but is probably underappreciated because not everyone took an English class where the teacher had a total fetish for hard-boiled detective stories and film noir. They're dead genres as far as I can tell. The closest we've had recently is Memento which had the necessary element of the double-cross, but the twist is that the main character has been double-crossing himself all along. But I digress. The point is that I enjoyed this movie, and if you're the type who enjoys homage (with a twist!) to long-forgotten genres you probably will too.