Brother to Brother Reviews
September 29, 2008
A friend's recommendation reminded me that I saw this stunning documentary-style-film on PBS's Independent Lens.
The literary world of the Harlem Renaissance is more central to this than homosexuality amongst African American men (see Paris is Burning for the best film on that topic). It's admirable unabashed reality and as result, quite depressing at moments with an overall tone of bittersweetness.
I think this is a very important film for young artists, especially writers, to see.
November 17, 2012
I liked seeing Anthony M in this..so cute! And it was an informative movie about gays at one time in Harlem and Anthony Mackie's character was very interesting. Worth watching at least once.
March 15, 2010
One of the reasons I like this movie so much was the way Anthony Mackie chose to portray his character, Perry; very honestly and without going over the top like so many straight actors do in gay roles. It's hard to find something about this movie not to compliment, but I really liked Roger Robinson as Bruce, Alex Burns as Jim and Duane Boutte as young Bruce. And despite its much deeper and more significant message there's much eye candy here, too, in Mackie, Burns and the stunningly gorgeous Duane Boutte.
October 24, 2008
how brilliant was this film when i first saw it! the cast, including anthony mackie, dainel sunjata, percy boutte and anjonue ellis, is an embarassment of riches. evans' visual style is like jazz for the eyes. i hope he is shooting his follow-up to this very successful feature.
April 23, 2007
This is another educational movie. I would have never thought that but it is. I was only watching it because of Anthony Mackie. It's about some of the people of the Harlem Renaissance. I think alot of ya'll out there will like it. Check it out.
April 8, 2007
This movie was a good movie, dealing with black gay men. With many twists and turns, certainly no block buster, but neither should it be missed.
March 16, 2007
This is such a hard film to describe. It is very deep with many themes that run through it. I believe it is a must see -yet each view will come away with a diffrent view - check it out let me know what u think
November 12, 2007
A very good drama about the difficulties of being young, black, and gay. With a bigger budget and a sharper focus, it might have been a great one.
August 12, 2012
Rodney Evans' biopic on Bruce Nugent, intercut with the modern-day struggles of a young black man, doesn't reach the satisfaction that it should. It's main flaw is that Evans merges two fascinating stories into one film, resulting in neither chief protagonists being fully explored or developed, especially since very little is known about Nugent et. al. outside of the United States. On the plus side, 'Brother to Brother' is a well-photographed piece (despite its obvious low budget) and the performances are solid, particularly from Anthony Mackie, Alex Burns and Roger Robinson. A good film - and one to be recommended - but it could've been a masterpiece.
August 28, 2011
Wasn't sure if I would like this movie given the subject matter, but I did. It's both a tale of a gay young man's life experience and the life of the writers of the "Fire" magazine that was published during the Harlem Renaissance. The latter was an unexpected surprise and offers an insightful look into that period. The look into the the "Fire" magazine writer's lives is the part that is most interesting and draws your attention. Unfortunately, the story of the lead character, Perry, was not developed well. You never really understood where his thoughts were during a scenes that pertained to his life. It was explained one way or another in a following scene, so you understood after the fact, but you could never get into the moment when the scene happened. This makes the movie story feel disjointed although at the end it made sense. The other half of Perry's story involved the meeting of the old Bruce Nugent one of the writers from the "Fire" magazine. This part of the story is the part that makes the movie interesting and ties in the other part of the movie regarding the writers of the "Fire" magazine.
The greatest aspects of this movie is the actors. There were a lot of great performances in this movie, but the stand outs were: Roger Robinson who played older Bruce, Duane Boutte who played younger Bruce, Aunjanue Ellis who played Zora, and Ray Ford who played Wally. Honorable mentions are: Alex Burns as Jim, Leith Burke who didn't say much but gave striking looks into the camera as Aaron, Daniel Sunjata as Langston Hughes, Anthony Mackie who played Perry and he was a good fit for the role, but as mentioned before the story of Perry wasn't developed well, so some of Anthony's acting didn't make sense until it was explained later on.
The other great aspect of this movie was the look and feel of the Harlem Renaissance scenes. The prop crew did a nice job and the filming was on point as well.
I would classify this movie as a fictional documentary. It was entertaining overall, but it borders sometimes on being a documentary...which for me is the best way to see a documentary. Ultimately, the producers of the movie want to give you an insight of life from the view of a young black gay man and his interactions with society, particularly the unique struggles that are associated with being black and gay. There are four preachy scenes, but they are short and bareable. Overall a good movie and one you will want to see by yourself, or with your best conversational friend, or book club group. Not for children due to nudity, and a graphic scene.
July 27, 2011
We are watching this movie @ PIVOT on Fri August 5th
December 3, 2008
Brother to Brother is an inciteful peek into the taboos of Black society now and during the Harlem Renaissance. The subject matter is approached directly and artistically.
August 10, 2005
[b]DVD[/b] First Viewing, 1 Evans film seen
[i]Brother to Brother[/i] gives an insightful look at the experience of black homosexuals. A young struggling artist begins a seemingly odd friendship with an older man. It's a story much like [i]Finding Forrester [/i]with the obvious modifications. How do you think Rob Brown would have reacted if Sean Connery randomly asked Rob to pose for him?
As an independent film, [i]Brother to Brother[/i] was highly successful. It won numerous awards at Gay film festivals in LA, New York, Miami, San Fransisco, etc. But it also was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, including best debut performance for Anthony Mackie, best first screenplay, best supporting male for Roger Robinson, and best first feature.
I liked how the film would suddenly take on a surrealistic tone, each time it changed from color to black & white. I thought the technique worked quite well. It's an interesting story, even for a straight white kid like me. I think most people would agree.
July 5, 2005
TOUCHING, NICELY ACTED, WELL MEANING SCREENPPLAY. A BIT TALKY AT TIMES BUT IT DOESN'T REALLY HURT THE FILM. VERY WELL DIRECTED WITH A LOT OF SENSITIVITY. FINE PACE. A FILM ABOUT BLACKS THAT EXPLORE THEIR PAST WITHOUT HITTING YOU OVER THE HEAD WITH RACISM ISSUES. A VERY ADMIRABLE EFFORT.
December 19, 2004
There's this young, gay, black guy named Perry who's an artist and a student at Columbia. His father kicked him out of the house when he caught him messing with a guy in his room so he's got all that to deal with, plus he's kind of struggling with his gayness anyway. He starts sleeping with the only white student in his African studies class, a long haired boy who seems to always carry around a skateboard. But when his new boyfriend compliments him on his skin and his lips, Perry somehow takes this as a personal affront and dumps him. This makes him even more morose than he was to start.
Meanwhile, Perry meets an older, gay, black guy named Bruce Nugent who lives at the homeless shelter where he works part time. Perry recognizes Nugent's name from a book of poetry he's reading. In real life, Bruce Nugent was a minor player in something called the Harlem Renaissance, the name given to a very creative period which took place for black artists and writers in New York City in the 1920's and 30's. A more recognizable poet from this period who's also depicted in this film is Langston Hughes.
The Bruce Nugent in the movie is supposed to be THE Bruce Nugent from the 20's except that the real Bruce Nugent died in 1987 and the movie appears to be set in the present. Also, the real Bruce Nugent would be close to 100 years old if he were still alive and the guy in the movie looks to be no more than 70. I spent a good deal of time trying to work this all out as I watched the film. Is the Nugent in the film supposed to be older than he looks? Is what looks like the present really the 80's? I probably thought about this much longer than the screenwriter, who seemed to just slap it all together and hope that we wouldn't notice. This sort of sloppiness drives me nuts.
So anyway, Perry and Nugent sort of hit it off and hang out a bit, being that they're both black, gay artists. Nugent often has flashbacks to the old days when he and Langston and the gang used to sit around having boring discussions about art and the importance of not selling out. In case you can't tell it's a flashback by the way the people are dressed and the jazzy background music, the director helpfully filmed all of these old scenes in black and white.
The basic gist of the movie seems to be that it's tough to be gay when you're black, because black men are even more intolerant of homosexuality than the general populace. And I guess we're supposed to recognize the parallels between young Nugent's life during the Harlem Renaissance and Perry's life now. Fascinating. (Yawn.)
Maybe I would've liked this movie better if I were gay or black or an artist. Or if I was particularly interested in the Harlem Renaissance. But as it stands, this film didn't really do much for me. I didn't find it particularly engaging or even well made. In fact, I don't think I would've liked it much even if I were a gay, black, artist. And given the fact that my dog went on an anxiety-fueled chomping jag while I was out watching it, I really wish I'd just stayed home instead.
November 15, 2004
Progressive, compelling, organic, groundbreaking.
Finally a film that effectively encompasses the black gay experience without excessive, trite stereotypes. Unlike the problematic [i]Punks[/i], which was full of cliches and unrealistic scenarios all for the goal of a good giggle, [i]Brother To Brother[/i] deals with black, gay issues from an intellectual, emotional and realistic point of view. All while still relaying some form of comic relief. There are no drag queens. No HIV/AIDS stories. No "coming out" of the closet stories.
The acting is nearly flawless especially by the lead, Anthony Mackie, who delivers a real as rain performance evoking the isolation that can happen when you are black and gay from the black community and even the gay/white community. The other characters seemed to have a chemistry that oozed onto the screen, which you see most strongly during the Harlem Renaissance scenes. These scenes touched on areas of the Harlem Renaissance that I did not even know existed - I have done extensive research so it was good to not only be entertained but educated. My only mild critique is how these black men are lusting for all these white men. It would have been nice to see at least one scene with two black men together (despite the porn) instead of solely black and white men.
Rodney Evans moves his cast and the screenplay to bounds that have never been touched before in American cinema. These images, stories are unsung voices that need to be heard - similar to the voices of the Harlem Renaissance. I truly hope that [i]Brother To Brother[/i] gets the promotion and accolades it deserves. Congratulations to all who worked on this groundbreaking film!