Assassination of a High School President Brett Simon

Assassination of a High School President Brett Simon
It seems that Rian Johnson's 2005 film, Brick, has imbued the notion of high school as Raymond Chandler's mean streets into the collective psyche of a generation of upcoming hipster filmmakers, much to our misfortune. Assassination of a High School President, the feature directorial debut by Brett Simon of a similar ilk, focuses its attention on Bobby Funke (Reece Daniel Thompson), a social pariah and wannabe journalist working on a story about Paul (Patrick Taylor), the all-star jock and beloved school president. When researching his subject, Funke learns of the athlete's connection to the disappearance of the SAT tests from Principal Kirkpatrick's (Bruce Willis) office. This discovery leads to immediate popularity and a romantic entanglement with resident hottie Francesca (Mischa Barton), but everything may be slightly more complicated than initially meets the eye. Where Brick embraced the stylistic sensibilities of the genre, demonstrating a keen vernacular consistency, Brett Simon's thematically similar attempt isn't sure if it wants to subvert or pay homage to the conventions of films such as Chinatown. A highly literal narrative dedicated to the not-so-mysterious mystery suggests giving props but a tendency to have the Philip Marlowe character engage in jokes about used tampons and farts, when not being tricked by the femme fatale, suggests derision. There is an initial appeal to the cross melding of modernity with classic film noir but a sluggish tone, ugly aesthetic and lack of focus quickly dissipate engagement, leaving us to wait impatiently for the big reveal that we've already figured out. It's not a terrible film, featuring promising performances from some of the teens, but isn't one worthy of repeat viewings either. Included with the DVD is a feature-length commentary track with key creators, along with some deleted and alternate scenes cut for length, pacing and apparently, overall intention. (E1)