Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.
Humberto Fuentes is a wealthy doctor whose wife has recently died. In spite of the advice of his children, he takes a trip to visit his former students who now work in impoverished villages... See full summary »
Dan Rivera González
May-Alice Culhane was a successful soap opera star, but a car accident has left her bound to a wheelchair. She returns to her now-empty family home in the bayous of Louisiana which she had ... See full summary »
City of Hope is a portrait of a typical middle-sized American city of the present day. The crux of the story is an old apartment block which stands in the way of a major commercial ... See full summary »
Tony Lo Bianco,
In an economically devastated Alaskan town, a fisherman with a troublesome past dates a woman whose young daughter does not approve of him. When he witnesses the murder of his shady brother, he, the woman and the kid run to the wilderness.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
The Brother is an alien who has crash-landed on Earth, in New York City. While mute, strongly empathic, and able to fix things, he resembles a Black man with strange feet. His attempt to make a place for himself in Harlem is an allegory for the immigrant experience in the United States. Meanwhile, two bounty hunters from the Brother's home planet arrive and try to capture him. Written by
According to The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review, "John Sayles had signed on to write the script for Steven Spielberg's abandoned alien visitors film 'Night Skies' just before this". See more »
In the scene where the Brother is brought in to fix video games, the woman there is playing Robotron, but the sound effects are from Galaga, not Robotron. See more »
Children witherin' away up here, brother, worshippin' the idol of capital, lustin' after the false salvation of here and now. Black brother and sister perishin' up here, mon, waiting for scrap from oppressor table. Oppressor got us for *house pet*; do him tricks to get reward. Oppressor need a slave; him find it here. Oppressor need a harlot; him find it here. Oppressor don't need here at all; him wipe it away from the map.
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It's great to see this odd and remarkable film finally getting a worthwhile DVD release. BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET is among the few John Sayles films I've seen, and watching it again makes me want to check out what else I might have missed.
Blending sly topical humor with science fiction, BROTHER FROM... superficially resembles ALPHAVILLE or MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH as it explores various themes: assimilation, perception and identity; and technology and control; along with less abstract but equally serious issues like drug abuse and urban despair. This fantastic film is notable for its' dry humor and complex observation of urban problems, and is also notable for Joe Morton's astonishing, expressive performance in a mute role, which - though helped by Morton's theatrical training and his overall attractiveness - still has to be seen to be believed.
Crash landing his tiny space ship in Harlem, our silent hero tries to make sense of his surroundings, moving from fear and puzzlement to relative comfort. Because of his dark skin, certain assumptions are instantly made of him, even as his silence gives no one anything to hang a stereotype on. It quickly becomes apparent that 'he ain't from around here.' The edgy humor turns on this (pay attention for great spoof quotes from TERMINATOR and TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE/BLAZING SADDLES) - not so p.c. at the surface, but still broad-minded and intelligently observational, with an intriguing viewpoint - that of a very disoriented immigrant dropped into the American subculture he's expected to most easily fit into. Simultaneously, his quiet and graceful manner of dealing with the world around him implies an unquestionable conviction that every human ought to be considered with some kind of respect and dignity, even as day-to-day realities might necessarily modify this ideal (another of the key themes here).
A short subplot involving a nightclub singer touches vaguely upon Harlem's celebrated past, making apparent Sayles' belief in the contemporary value of history, and his awareness of the importance of context even in a fantastical story. Likewise, a second subplot - though a tad clumsy - deals with Harlem's more recent history - a struggle to survive and preserve identity through an avalanche of drugs, potential violence and despair.
As a runaway slave from another world, themes of technology, surveillance and control (shown in the eyeball/flashback scenes, and the great capture scene near the end) are also introduced, even as Sayles' references African-American history at unexpected moments throughout ("My people built this country. Ever heard of South Carolina?...") - implying to a degree that technology can easily be manipulated to make slaves of us all, or at least that technology hold the potential to divorce us from our history.
With all of the varied themes and subplots, BROTHER FROM... could've easily become overloaded or didactic, but Sayles' loose stylishness and light touch as a director (along with the skill of the cast) makes it all work well, even with a very modest budget and a tight shooting schedule. The cinematography throughout is remarkable - lots of long takes, with characters woven into the fabric of everyday life. The pacing is slow and methodical (Sayles is always very meticulous in developing plot and characters), but never dull.
This is a great film - below a hip and ironic surface, the covert intellect and graceful sweetness of this film links its' numerous themes into a seamless and unique fantasy/parable. This cult classic from the mid-80s deserved a wider audience at the time, and still does
I strongly recommend it.
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