...as recommended by Paul Guyot, and I like almost everything about it: the casting, the pacing, the music, the feel. I only had a problem with the dialog. BRICK is clearly an homage to detective noir, but I wanted the dialog to sound like high school kids talking, not 40s slicksters.

Maybe the point is that outsiders don't understand kidspeak. I can accept that. I especially liked the scene wherein The Pin's mother serves Brendan apple juice. She is so far from and oblivious to the world right under her feet.

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The dialog worked in the context of the movie. I just think BRICK could have paid homage to Hammett without it. I would have bought in just as much if not more had the kids spoken something close to American high school slang.
The dialog struck me early on in the movie as being a bit inconsistent with the age of the kids, but it quickly became a non-issue because of how well everything else worked and fell together.
Last August, Richard Edwards and I interviewed BRICK's writer-director Rian Johnson on our podcast, "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed" (btbm.libsyn.com). Johnson made a point similar to the one you're making, arguing that gangster speak is analogous, in some ways, to teen slang: both are intended to separate those who are part of the gang from those on the outside. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that interview. We've also talked to other crimespace members: Megan Abbott, David Corbett, Al Guthrie, and Duane Swierczynski (hope I'm not missing anyone!).
I felt the same way. I liked so many things about that film, but the hardboiled slang often seemed unwieldy and far-fetched in those teenaged mouths, not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes trying to do Shakespeare in Romeo + Juliet. Sometimes it worked and other times it was as if they had learned their lines phonetically, like Bela Lugosi. I thought the library scene ("The bulls? Gum it.") was particularly forced and silly. It's too bad, because it really would have been a masterpiece if the dialog was just a little less over-the-top.

My two cents.
I loved BRICK, and the dialog didn't bug me once I figured out what was happening. Occasionally a little over the top, but I dug it. Then again, I like a healthy dose of art with my gritty realism & it was great to see a non-fluffy/boring teen flick. IMO the point of the anachronistic dialog isn't just the outsider/insider distinction, but also the historic continuity of the basic story line. Other than the ages of the players, the same scenario shows up over and over again in crime fiction. It wasn't a perfect movie, but it was way, way, way above average.
I think that was the point of the dialog. To NOT sound like high school kids. Which is what gave the movie it's unusual feel. Otherwise it would be just another teen drama...
I saw BRICK when it first came out and enjoyed it. I didn't understand all the dialog, but then because of my hearing problem I tend to miss some dialog, anyway, and don't worry about it too much.

I even know one of the producers (Mark Mathis) and figured he might take a liking to my high school mystery, THE HAYLOFT, but so far that hasn't happened. Maybe if I had $50 million to back me up...
I love that movie beyond all reason. At first, I thought, "how weird, it's like there are almost no adults in the world". Then I realized...that was sort of how being a teenager was for me...they'd intrude every now and then, but all the drama was in this insular little world that they were no real part of.

And I loved the dialog.
Uh, you guys are sort of missing out on one point. It's not real slang they're using, gangster or otherwise, so much as an incredible facsimile deliberately meant to evoke the tough guy jargon of thirties and forties flicks without actually aping it word for word; one more part of the world the director was trying to create.

I mean, come on. "The ape blows or I clam"?

Hell, rumours have it Chandler himself coined the phrase "the big sleep" and thugs everywhere picked up on it.

And when Hammett used "gunsel" in THE MALTESE FALCON, it meant something very different from the way most people use it these days.
I got that they were using a semi-imagined patois, Kevin. I just don't think it was entirely effective.


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