The Brother from Another Planet - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Brother from Another Planet Reviews

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½ December 31, 2009
um. lots of missed opportunities. good idea but bad follow through. ends up seeming like a bad student film
December 29, 2009
This film is so quirky and weird that I almost love it. In fact, there were a ton of things I loved about it: the sick score which consisted of synthfunk, gospel, sometimes bordering on avant-garde; the unconventional cinematography and editing; the pair of creepy white guys who were absolutely, hilariously brilliant; the eyeball; the card trick; the random video game montage in the middle; and the silent protagonist. The problem with this movie is the fact that it has no plot; unfortunately, there are a lot of events in this movie, but nothing really ties it into a strong cohesive whole. Moreover, while some of the dialogue is hilarious, a lot of it is pointless and sometimes annoying. Regardless, I think I enjoyed this film way more than the rating I have given it and think it deserves, and I think the elements of the film which I pointed out are well worth giving Brother From Another Planet a watch!
December 15, 2009
John Sayles has a great science fiction immigration tale. It's hard not to watch the scene on Ellis Island without wondering about your own family's history.
½ November 26, 2009
The central conceit (alien is a black guy) allows Sayles to comment on numerous issues: race, drugs, poverty, stereotypes, the state of the working class, urban decay, etc. The various episodes never coalesce into a coherent narrative, and there are a few glaring continuity errors, but there are enough strong ideas here for three or four films, so who cares?
½ November 22, 2009
I loved this movie, its jokes
November 18, 2009
It's been a long while since I've seen it, but I remember it being good!

This is where the film "Men in Black" got the idea from?

I hope they show this again... soon......
November 16, 2009
How Young We All Were!

Both the star of this movie and one of the Men in Black from it are people who would go on to decent careers. You have to squint more with David Strathairn than with Joe Morton, who does not seem to have changed substantially in the last quarter century. They're within two years of age of one another, but you could pretty much drop this Joe Morton into the middle of Eureka, and no one would wonder what new and exciting youth serum had been discovered and tried on Henry. Whereas it is hard to see Edward R. Murrow in the David Strathairn presented here. It's odd, really, how faces work that way. As another example, Dean Stockwell kind of had three phases to his career, and you can't reliably tell he's the same person going back and forth from any of them unless you pay attention to specific features. How many of the people from this movie are people with small but steady careers who are just left unrecognizable by the passage of time?

The listed name for the character Joe Morton plays is The Brother. He does not seem to have a name beyond that. He cannot speak. When he is asked where he is from, he points up. We only really see him make an effort to communicate with one person, lounge singer (and implied former Motown-ish recording star) Malverne Davis (Dee Dee Bridgewater). He makes friends easily, and his ability to just make appliances work earns him the money he needs to live in Harlem, but as Roger says, people project their own images onto him. They tell him what he is thinking, and he goes along with it, probably at least in part because communicating with these people is so difficult for him. What the audience knows and the characters do not is that, when The Brother points up, he's being pretty literal about where he's from. About the only place we can see that is different physiologically is that he has three large toes. This is the case with his species, which, as the title points out, is not from Earth.

One of the scenes which could come off the most ham-handed is actually one of the least. The Brother is in a museum with Little Earl (Herbert Newsome), the son of a woman he's staying with. They get along mostly because neither expects the other to say anything. Indeed, Little Earl may well not have any lines at all. And there they are, listening to a woman tell a tour group about Harriet Tubman, because you can't talk about slavery in the US without it. Contractual obligation. Anyway, The Brother listens to this--he can understand at least two languages, it seems--and looks around some at the exhibit. One of the items is, of course, "Am I Not a Man and Brother?" This is a famous image--produced, if not sculpted, by Josiah Wedgwood of pottery fame, who actually treated his employees like tools. Anyway, if either spoke, we'd probably get one of those tedious points about how our culture only quite recently stopped holding slaves, but since neither do, it is left for the viewer to think it instead.

It would be too easy to have a perfect Harlem. It's true that the guys from Indiana don't get mugged--but no one's willing to give them directions at first, either, or even talk to them. The Brother, obviously, doesn't talk to them, but he does listen. We see the body of an overdose victim. We see hookers and dealers and junkies, oh my. Not everyone in Harlem welcomes The Brother with open arms, either, and a white social worker (Maggie Renzi?) is willing to roll for Bureaucratic Obfuscation to keep the Men in Black away. There's a brief but pointless scene on the subway where Fisher Stevens (who would go on to [i]Early Edition[/i]) points out the distances between the cultures--but he's perfectly willing to talk to a strange, silent black man on the subway, so the moral clearly isn't White People Are Evil. The movie mostly deals with poor black people, because Harlem, but no group is totally vilified or totally sanctified.

The fact is, it's hard to act without talking. Kevin Smith says that Silent Bob doesn't talk much because he, Kevin Smith, cannot act. Except Silent Bob and The Brother are much harder to make sympathetic. (Though Silent Bob does have the advantage of playing against Jay!) The audience is a little more able to get inside The Brother's head than those around him--again going back to Little Earl, though, the boy is the only person who really gets what "up" means. True, everyone in the neighbourhood knows those two Men in Black are up to no good, but not everyone around the neighbourhood is, either. There's something a little uncertain about this man. He's spooky. Oh, sure, he's handy to have around, but you still don't necessarily want him in your home. Morton plays the character with such stillness. The Brother is watching everything. He's not necessarily paranoid about the Men in Black, but we see him identify them with those dogs in that picture--again, without a word.
½ October 30, 2009
Not even some poorly judged comedy (Sayles and Strathairn) can stop this film being anything but very good. The film's social observations are extremely well explored and brings up some acute observations on economy, drugs, racism, to name a few. Joe Morton is brilliant in the lead role and conveys so much without dialogue. A unique and very intelligent sci-fi film.
½ September 17, 2009
A pretty good film from John Sayles about an alien that lands in Harlem disguised as a mute African American man. The film really does a good job of touching on themes of racism, slavery and social class in general while never feeling preachy or forceful in its dissection. This one of those films that uses a lot of great creative techniques to create its world. On subsequent re watches I do find the film to drag a little too much in the middle.
September 11, 2009
I honestly have no idea what the hell happened in the movie. Then it just ended.
½ May 18, 2009
Some of the best Sci-Fi films are those which take a Sci-Fi setting or premise and use it to present a different perspective on a story which is very human. In this film, a great deal of social commentary is offered in such an understated way that it wouldn't surprise me if most viewers don't even realize that that's what's going on.
Well worth a look.
½ May 10, 2009
Very strange film. I'll probably have to watch it a second time. "white folks are gettin' stranger every day".
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2009
No thanks - Not interested
February 26, 2009
thank god this didn't become a "cult classic," because some things deserve to be unworshipped. it's a really fun movie, but i don't know if that's because it's so crazy, or whether it's really well-done. good in any case.
½ February 25, 2009
Brother from Another Planet is a bit odd, but it's oddity is what makes it to charming and fresh. The movie is spread thin on plot and coherency, but this structure opens the subjects of the film to greater interpretation. Broth begins a little slow, but it picks up after the character stay around long enough for you to care about them. You may never know where the alien is from or why he looks human or a bunch of other not so essential things--perhaps these holes really signify it as a B-movie--, but you'll nevertheless walk away feeling a little better about the world. A quirky, but sentimental gem of a movie.
February 6, 2009
i dont remember much from this one...
just that i didnt really liked it
½ November 28, 2008
This John Sayles sci-fi comedy is a bit too episodic, thin, and at points flawed to be great--but GOD DAMN, man, it's been a while since I've enjoyed a movie as much I enjoyed this one. It's witty, insightful, funny, and ridiculously charming. Joe Morton does a great job in his voiceless performance, but my favorites were beloved (at least by me) character actor David Strathairn paired with the director himself as the original "Men in Black." Loved it when they ordered two draft beers "on the rocks." Fun as fuck.
October 2, 2008
A beautiful performance by Joe Morton, skillfully directed by John Sayles. Yeah, it's a little low budget, but a great experience.
September 14, 2008
interesting metaphor for what it means to be black, whether in the old world when blacks weren't considered even human or in today's world when they're treated any differently. portraying them as aliens I think gives a nod to these ideas. regardless of this interpretation, it's funny, it's true, and it's heartfelt.
September 8, 2008
Prometedora pero decepcionante. Tiene buenos momentos, sobre todo los más ítimos y de diálogo, pero se va en picada una vez empieza "la persecución", cuando pierde balance y tropieza buscando moméntum. El comentario social también resulta algo superficial. / Promising but dissapointing. Has its good moments, especially the more intimate, dialogue-filled ones, but goes downhill once "the chase" begins, as it loses balance and stumbles looking for momentum. Its social commentary is also somewhat superficial.
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