The 1990s and early 2000s were a golden era of odd but ambitious little American indies like Burr Steers’s Igby Goes Down and George Huang’s Swim with sharksWhile they weren’t perfect, their chutzpah was a plus. Fewer of those movies find their way into the mainstream today, but Brian Petsos’ wonky comedy Brick of Big GoldShows a similar idiosyncratic and go-for-broke attitude. Its low-key eccentricity—driven by an affably capricious performance from Andy Garcia—is its greatest pleasure.
Samuel (Emory) Cohen is an ambitious writer who has found success in being a loser. He’s about to be tossed out of his apartment, and he’s had it with life. After stumbling out onto a dark road, he’s hit by a car. Behind the wheel is middle-aged gent Floyd (Garcia), distracted because he’s shoveling frozen custard into his mouth while driving. Floyd rushes Samuel to the hospital, and as the young man recovers from his injuries—which appear to have affected his brain, or at least his sense of reality—Floyd wonders if this wanna-be author might be of use to him. Samuel agrees to his biography. Floyd offers $500 per week in a stipend, while showcasing him at his suburban mansion, which is home to a troubled teenager (Leonidas Castrounis), Lucy Hale (kind but emotional fragile) and Megan Fox (libidinous).
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Floyd, who favors trim blazers spruced up with devil-may-care pocket squares, is a classy guy with money—or is he? Samuel doesn’t have the best grip on things, but he begins to sense that something’s amiss, and his encounter with a villainous zillionaire (Oscar Isaac, intentionally hamming it up) proves him right.
Brick of Big GoldGarcia seems a bit obsessed with Garcia’s unique quirkiness. However, Garcia feels completely at home doing all of it, regardless how outrageous. Arriving at the hospital with flowers for Samuel, he dumps the cotton swabs out of a glass jar without even looking, missing nary a beat—he needs a vase; who cares about dumb old swabs? His comic timing is as suave as Floyd’s ascots, as understated as his darkly paneled office. Sometimes it’s the small showcase that serves actors best.
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