Brotherhood (I) (2010)
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If you consider yourself "middle of the road" when it comes to understanding college social scenes, see how you feel about this movie - it may help you decide how well you understand college life today, if you were asked this same question.
From what I can tell, the story is indeed fictional but based on real experiences and 'folk lore' or 'urban legends' of college life. Although I am not going to go into specific plot details, it is generally well-crafted and fun to watch.
From my previous movie reviews, I have a keen eye for performance. What stood out to me was the girl that came looking for her 'personal belongings' halfway through the story. At first glance, I was sure I had seen her in other movies, but I couldn't recall where. My trusty IMDb iphone app identified her to be Jennifer Sipes. This actress made the movie for me. If you do get a chance to see this film in theaters, her performance alone is worth the price of admission. There is something that really shines bright with her. Lou Taylor Pucci also does a very very good job. I was lucky enough to see "The Music Never Stopped" at Sundance and I think his performance in Brotherhood is at the same level. Jon Foster comes through as well, although his strength as an actor did not shine as bright as Jennifer Sipes and Lou Taylor Pucci. I don't blame Jon Foster, this is a small indie film, and he sometimes stumbles a little with delivery, slightly depreciating his performance, but I suspect this was due to a very compacted shooting schedule. I eagerly anticipate Jon's future performances in big budget studio films, because I think with a proper shooting schedule, he will really take off. Trevor Morgan to me was just OK. Unfortunately I could see him 'acting' at certain points. If you see this film on the big screen, you will see Pucci dominate Morgan in scenes that the two are in (from a purely acting perspective). Once again, I think Trevor Morgan had a tough job in this film, thus making it more difficult to perform with a short shooting cycle. Nonetheless, he is responsible for his screen presence, and he didn't meet my expectations. The scenes that Trevor Morgan and Arlen Escarpeta square off are the slowest of the film, and in my opinion, should be left out. It simply doesn't work as intended.
In summary, I would recommend this film. It rides along at a fast pace, comparable to a typical 'night-gone-wrong' thriller. Overall performances are good, but look for Lou Taylor Pucci and even more so Jennifer Sipes - Two actors with a very bright future. Jon Foster is close behind, and also has a big career ahead of him. I will give fair warning that you may find this film really, really, irritating if you are not connected to college life today, but if you are, you will associate well to the language, the pranks/initiations, and the race relations, all realistic and decently put together. What really separates this film from other indies in this genre is the acting. If for nothing else, see it for some inspiring performances by Hollywood's future stars.
The good thing about this movie, is that it sets a pace from the beginning and it never really lets you down. So while you are trying to figure out what's happening, new events come along and throw other things into the mix. You might see a few things coming or not, but the fact, that the movie does set a mood and never steers away from it, is good thing in my book.
Of course you could argue, that the characters are not really likable and there might not be someone in here with whom you can identify. Touche. But if you can see past that point, there is a little movie to enjoy here, that never aims at being much more (though you could read a bit of a social commentary, if you want to)
I don't really know where to begin because I refuse to normally write a review. This movie is beyond stupid. First, we have a group of frat guys hazing the pledges, led by Frank, a dimwit of a fellow who does absolutely everything wrong just because. The pledges are told they must commit a convenience store robbery to become members, but that by doing so does not grant them the opportunity in the fraternity. So essentially, they are asked to commit a felony for no reason other than to satisfy the twisted desires of adolescents.
If you can manage, by some miraculous feat, to actually look past how stupid this sounds then wait until it really gets going. Oh, just to be sure, the acting isn't half bad, if you consider yelling at everyone throughout the entire film acting. What I don't understand is why they would let their friend sit on his death bed while they convened to figure a way out of the mess. If my friend was shot in a fake robbery I would immediately take him to the hospital, without hesitation. How stupid can someone be? I have been shot before, right in the bladder, so I can presume to appreciate the importance of quick medical attention.
The idea for the movie was alright, I just wish the frat guys had some common sense, I honestly don't understand how they are even in college, or how they made it out of high school. Common sense would have saved them all a lot of trouble, but they were so naive and gullible in their own beliefs and lack of morals that they deceived themselves throughout the whole film. I must say it was funny to watch how things unfolded, but I kept reading my book and turning away from my laptop because it is just one ludicrous decision after another, over and over.
The movie has to be a joke to my intelligence because this is nowhere near good, nowhere near worthwhile. It is a waste of time and that is what I used it for, to kill time since I was unable to sleep. If you are in the same spot as I saw myself there are much better films out there that are available to waste some time with. Dragonball Evolution was better than this.
Brotherhood is in the same vein as the aforementioned films (though not as harsh) as we follow the exploits of a group of frat house students and pledges who's night takes a turn for the worse when a convenience store hold up prank goes wrong.
The story unfolds and the viewer watches as the characters continue to make bad decisions, digging a deeper hole for the situation they are in. If done right, this type of film can take you on a ride where you feel involved as you think to yourself 'but I'd do that', 'If only they'd done....'. Plausability always plays a big part and although some of the decisions made by Adam and the others are just plain stupid, it plays out well without going silly.
There were some believable performances and good acting all round. The film wasn't quite as tense nor dark dark as it could have possibly been for the story type but it was entertaining enough. I was impressed with the side track revelation near the end of the film which relates to something you will have forgotten all about by the end of the film (not giving anything away). Nice touch.
Brotherhood is worth a watch. It has a short running time and would make for a good rental.
The biggest flaw however is the script; a childish, incoherently written mess with an unbelievable premise, clumsily executed.
In all this film is quite an insult since, by presenting it as a genuine narrative work, it assumes that its audience will have such a feeble intellect as to somehow miss the utter ineptitude it really is. I'm not sure if this is the worst film I've ever seen, but it's certainly the worst film I've seen this year.
The fraternity (and sorority) system is something very peculiar to US colleges, but thanks to films such as Animal House people in other countries now have a very good idea how things work: all beer, parties and panty raids right? Not quite! Because Brotherhood takes the concept of initiation rites and works it into a very taut thriller about power and abuse and how far would you be willing to go to protect your fellows as opposed to doing the right thing.
Not wishing to give anything away (I don't write spoilers, even intentionally), what starts out as a prank, robbing a convenience store, spirals out of control as every attempt to put right the wrong just makes things worse. Pretty soon, to misquote Macbeth, those involved are now so deep in the brown and red stuff that turning back is no longer an option.
The kicker at the end, by the way, is excellent.
From the beginning scene, I was sucked in. I won't go into plot details, but the story keeps you guessing and is engrossing. The acting from the unknown cast is excellent was well- Jon Foster is especially good as the head of the fraternity.
And the twist at the end of the film was a great touch. The nice thing about the twist is that it's not easy to predict, but also did not feel forced.
I wouldn't necessarily call this a movie about Greek life, but it's a terrific indie drama/thriller set in the world of fraternities.
What I ended up watching (instead of a fluff-piece on partying and sex) was a gripping, well-paced, superbly-acted and well-executed drama. Brotherhood is about more than "frat boys": it is about human motivation and decision making, it is about loyalty, and it shows how just one simple turn of events can change everything you had ever planned or expected.
I know the plot description for this sounds cliché and awful. Trust me--I almost didn't watch it myself. But don't pass this one up. It is a truly engrossing ride from start to finish. I really wish this film were more well-known!
Would I watch again? - Yes, I think I would.
*Also try - Sorority Row & Twelve
I'll be honest in saying I didn't watch the first 20 minutes or so. It was on a movie network randomly and I'm always a sucker for watching "frat movies", if not just to see how accurate they are. I have to say I was really surprised by this movie: the acting and the story line both rang true with me on multiple occasions.
The typical fraternity movie is all about partying and for good reason-- that's what some fraternities are all about. This movie definitely honed in on some of the other aspects of fraternity life. On my campus in particular, any little mishap that the administration finds out about can get you kicked of campus indefinitely. I guess most people don't care, but when you're in a fraternity you take this seriously. The "us against them" thing is definitely something that can come up in Greek life. Not to mention, if someone decides to take their friend to the hospital they can get in a lot of trouble, and that comes up all the time, fraternity or not.
Yes, most of the situations that came up in the movie were completely ridiculous and you would have to be stupid to actually allow them in your chapter. A fraternity alumnus becoming a cop (haha), telling pledges to rob a store, locking a pledge up in a trunk with a bunch of booze... But the weird thing was that all of these situations were only a few steps up from things that actually happen. The ending, for me, was chilling.
Locking someone in the back of a trunk might not be realistic, but there are other similar ways that could have happened. Just a few years ago, a local fraternity got kicked off campus, disbanded, and people involved arrested because a pledge drank too much and passed out. They took him to the hospital, but on the way there he woke up, so they thought he was fine. He passed out again but the next morning he didn't wake up. I don't know how the guys who found him felt, but I definitely felt more watching this movie than I did when we all had to watch interviews of the guys involved in the case at my college as new members.
To sum it up, a lot of people will see this as just an OK thriller, but I think the last scene adds a lot of worth to this film. The conflict of interest in the movie was really intriguing.
A few random things though: The pledges, and some of the members, looked way too old, although they did a decent job of looking like they had no idea what was going on. The crazy girl wanting her toilet seats back was pretty funny, and sadly this was actually believable (minus all her friends being there to back her up). The cop could have taken the guy to the hospital and written whatever he wanted in the report. The scene where they give the money back is just over the top. I'll probably watch it again though
A fraternity idea of making fake robberies of gas stations goes wrong when they go to the wrong gas station. There's a shootout, and much more I'm not willing to say.
Directed by Will Canon, the film sets up an interesting premise, and quite effective acting by the youngsters, though the whole are put to some kind of extreme, it's interesting and exciting to watch. It forces you to participate and gets you occupied. Of course it's far fetched, and there's so many insane decisions, but still it makes out an interesting premise, when bad leadership and idiots mix up.
It's a film high on tension and action, and there's a nest fun coming up all the time. It's not a pleasant watch, by no means. Rather unpleasant in all ways, but it keeps you seated. Forget the believability, just be along for the ride! Talented film making from those involved.
Jon Foster and Trevor Morgan play the main characters in the film, and the ones who clash against each other to decide what's best for them while trying to get out of this situation; one is very heated about everything, and the other is a little bit naive but with some smartness when needed. And there's also the other brothers who are there to disturb, interrupt their plans and other people who get involved in the mess, wanting or not. A robbery, the kidnapped cashier, a car accident, angered girls, and of course the wounded fella, and the police, who might show up at any time in the fraternity house are the major problems by this group who simply wanted to make a prank and join new members.
Fast and with thrills here and there, "Brotherhood" is an okay film, very easy to follow but with some accidents here and there that might become annoying if you're clever enough to find solutions where the writers and the characters didn't found. I was always one step ahead of the characters in finding solutions where they opted for the worst and unthinkable one, for instance, like the one where they decide to return the stolen money to the store, pretending that the robbery never happened, when we know and their policeman friend knew that a robbery happened and the cashier disappeared. The whole part of returning the money was bad, very annoying and the way turned out the story (for this characters) could've ended worse than they thought. I can't deny that there's excitement, many surprises, a few plot twists and things to cheer. The whole battle between Foster and Morgan as the strong guy versus the weak and intelligent guy was very clever, a cliché that was well developed and it works.
Since being in a college here is a different experience than it is in the U.S. this film will pass unnoticed here. By that I mean that this whole fraternity thing doesn't exist (and if it does it is more invisible than anything), people go to college and keep locked up in their own little worlds, keeping a distance from everything, and throwing their intelligence to others like vanity or an excuse to be pretentious kinds, they don't care about real friendship and things like that. And I think this film would proof, even if in a bad way, that there are bonds that are made to hold still, and friendship matters.
I enjoyed the film, enjoyed the good performances of the cast, and it saved my week in a way after some overrated art films that haven't helped me with anything. If you need to escape from things, just for a hour and half yet have some ethical thoughts, figure out what would you do in a situation like the one presented in "Brotherhood" go see this film right away. 9/10
The film follows that of Adam, a fresher (or freshman in the set-world of America) played by Trevor Morgan, whose on the cusp of starting at a university and must undergo an immediate process in these, the dying embers of summer before the academic year begins, that'll see him inducted into the realms of a domestic fraternity. In spite of this, the film is essentially the process Adam is inclined to go through so as to reject the egotistical driven schooling-set world of showmanship; peer-pressure and the proving of one's masculinity: drinking a lot of booze and coming into possession of a firearm, albeit on separate occasions, does not make one a "man". When we begin, we begin in the confines of a van doing the rounds at a number of convenience stores; convenience stores which it would appear are being held up by a number of freshmen whose inauguration is being undertaken. But it is a sham, and where the frat-leader Frank's (Foster) excessive use of profanity in both questioning and challenging that of the other's masculinity has us question the competence of the screenwriter/director in their ability to broaden dialogue, we are swiftly put in our place thereafter when it's revealed the whole thing is a scare mongering act for the others yet to 'rob' somewhere.
Disaster strikes when one of the fraternity hopefuls does indeed hold up a store, when the collecting of a bag of money from an insider already there is what should have happened. In waiting outside the incorrect store, a fraternity member dooms Kevin (Taylor-Pucci) to being the hapless kid shot by a clerk, an event which kicks off all manner of strife for those involved and causes some serious headaches for these people early on in their scholarly life before term has even begun. In the panic, Kevin is taken the a proverbial fraternity headquarters; the large party unfolding cut short when a spiteful, narcissistic, evil individual suddenly finds himself hosting a GSW victim after having previously been limited to meticulously organising ill-judged pranks on that of people not wanting to drink the amounts of alcohol forced upon them and not wanting to have an act of sex go wrong which has been wholly planned to.
In feeding off an approach to its thesis more broadly reminiscent of Scorsese's After Hours or a vastly underrated crime thriller from a few years ago in the form of Running Scared, the film plunges its characters into a causality driven Hell where the rejection of proper authorities as well as professional medical attention forces those involved through a series of bleak night-set altercations and interactions, all the while our anchor in Adam gluing proceedings as this first-year kid daring to challenging the patriarchy. Canon does a great job in moving things along, allowing the bluntness of the opening sequences on how the fraternity operate dissolve into this unglamorous procession of lies and amorality wholly brought about by their own egomaniacal agenda; using the item of the individual bleeding to death as a wonderful device to keep tensions and deadlines heightened.
In feeding off the above approaches, the piece harks back to an era of twenty-or-so years ago when films such as Reservoir Dogs dominated the independent crime scene. Here, Kevin's blood soaked person held up in a dingy locale as those refusing to back down from one another over varying issues calls to mind that of Keitel's, Buscemi's and Penn's respective bickering as Roth lied spread eagle in the aforementioned example; while the presence of Mike (Escarpeta), the young clerk at the store, echoes that of a certain Marvin Nash as we follow his exasperated arrival in earnest via the rear of somebody's car, brought closer to the mayhem and hit upon by the crew when it's revealed he may prove a threat. Like Tarantino, Canon has made a film with a quaint ability to escalate issues and disagreements out of one routine catalyst; a thousand diamond store robberies have happened in a thousand films, likewise with a shooting that was never meant to have been, but the aftermath and the heightened tension born out of it as varying elements struggle for total control are what drives our growing interest and trepidation in both examples. Where not as good, and with the distinct sense of it being a debut feature from a filmmaker with-room-to-grow, Brotherhood more than fits the bill for what it is, in what is a gratifying observation on where the sorts of behaviour therein has one arrive.
An independent thriller and one that often hits the target - until you stop to think about things of course . From the outset I found it puzzling why individuals had second thoughts about robbing stores . Wouldn't they have thought about that before being driven along a road ? But I guess that's the same thing with a massive number of films where the audience aren't supposed to examine the unseen events leading up to the opening scene of a movie . It also seems a bit extreme for armed robbery to part of frat high jinx but very quickly before the opening credits appear this is explained as being a prank from then on we've got a RESERVOIR DOGS type of story with a wounded man and his friends wondering how they're going to escape from their self inflicted predicament
Thankfully the audience are spared any type of Tarantino post modernist homage and the narrative is full of tense moments but BROTHERHOOD isn't entirely successful due to contrived storytelling . Now it doesn't suffer from "An idiot plot" where the film would instantly stop if someone did something sensible but something has to happen in order to push the story regardless of it being entirely realistic . For example it just happens to be revealed that someone recognises the counter assistant in the robbed store and the rest of the film continues in the same way . Turn off your brain and you might enjoy it