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2 items from 2005

Trio wades into 'Waist Deep' pic

11 August 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Rogue Pictures said Thursday that hip-hop star the Game and actors Meagan Good and Larenz Tate have joined Tyrese Gibson in the urban action thriller Waist Deep, written and directed by Vondie Curtis Hall. Waist Deep follows an ex-con, O2 (Gibson), who while trying to go straight for the sake of his young son Junior is forced to go back outside the law when Junior is kidnapped in a carjacking. In his acting debut, the Game will star as a vicious criminal leader, Good (The Cookout) will play a street-smart hustler, and Tate (Crash) will be featured as O2's shady cousin. »

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25 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

PARK CITY -- The mean streets don't get any nastier than the high school parking lots in this cool-crafted mystery. A crowd-pleaser here at Sundance, Brick is a dazzling slab of hard noir storytelling with lineage from The Maltese Falcon to The Usual Suspects. A marketing challenge would be to extend the viewership beyond teens and lure adults into this high school netherworld.

In filmic terms, the "brick" in this hard case is the MacGuffin, the key to our white knight's quest to find out why his ex-girlfriend died. The avenging "detective" in this instance is, according to form, a loner named Brendan ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ). He's wiry, wears glasses and has no qualms about stepping on, and crushing, big toes.

In writer/director Rian Johnson's hard-charged scenario, Brendan tears through the strata of his California high school, dealing with all the usual generic suspects: thugs, potheads, vamps and authority figures. He gets tips from a fellow loner, The Brain ( Matt O'Leary) and all sorts of offers from the school vamp/tramps: the rich girl (Nora Zehetner) and the drama queen (Meagan Good). In this shrewdly calibrated piece, Johnson has served up a rich mix of red herrings, femme fatales, heat, dealings and death. When he's pieced it all together, all sewers lead to The Pin, a bat-like Beelzebub with a Kaiser Soyse mystique.

The well-selected cast is headed by Gordon-Levitt as a sinewy Sam Spade -- brash, obsessive and tough. Zehetner is fetchingly devious as the rich girl, and Good is "bad" as the floozy femme. Lukas Haas, with his big round eyes and protuberant ears, is downright eerie as the enigmatic druglord. Haas' open-eyed gaze, which is the same innocent look he gave in Witness, is iced here with a sinister glare. He's the Devil, with cape and cane, to boot.

Under Johnson's articulate command, technical contributions are superb, most prominently cinematographer Steve Yedlin's luminous, charged framings which should be a major contender for the fest's cinematography award. Adding wicked counterpoint to the sleaziness is Nathan Johnson's music. Deliciously oozy woodwinds wrap and coil around the plot -- more devious charm in this hard-formed Brick.


A Bergman Lustig Production


Producers: Ram Bergman, Mark G. Mathis

Screenwriter/director Rian Johnson

Executive producers: Johnson Communications, Norman Dreyfuss

Co-producers: Dana Lustig, Susan Dynner, Angela Roessel

Director of photography: Steve Yedlin

Production designer: Jodie Tillen

Music: Nathan Johnson

Costume designer: Michele Posch

Casting: Shannon Makhanian


Brendan: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Laura: Nora Zehetner

The Pin: Lukas Haas

Tugger: Noah Fleiss

The Brain: Matt O'Leary

Emily: Emilie de Ravin

Dode: Noah Segan

VP Trueman: Richard Roundtree

Kara: Meagan Good

Brad Bramish: Brian White

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 119 minutes »

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