Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Brother From Another Planet (1984)

Oh, brother.

This John Sayles' effort from 1984 has its moments, but boy it's a tough slog.

Characters talk, talk and talk some more. Some of the dialogue is very funny and touching. The repeated references along the liknes of "out of this world" get a little tiring.

But The Brother (Joe Morton) himself doesn't speak. He's an alien who has crash landed in New York City, Ellis Island to be precise. Nice touch.

He endears himself to just about everybody he meets. Many folks are quick to guess where he's from and share their problems with him. Hey, he's a good listener. The Brother earns a living with his natural ability to fix things. He falls for a blues singer who's enjoyed better days on the charts. The Brother is also being chased by two bounty hunters who want him back from wherever he came from (director Sayles and David Strathairn).

He hears the stories of a police officer, businessman who pushes drugs on the side, a single mom and two white guys who end up lost in Harlem.

A nice payoff from watching The Brother From Another Planet is keeping an eye on the cast. Some of these folks have 100+ credits each. Strathairn appeared as William Seward in the Oscar nominated Lincoln. Minnie Gentry only appeared in about 20 roles in her film career, but she's an early standout as a fed-up Mrs. Brown. Employment counsellor Sam, who helps The Brother find employment, appeared as a Sugar Leonard lookalike in Seinfeld. He was also in two episoldes of 24. Bill Cobbs appeared in everything from The Cotton Club and The Color of Money to A Mighty Wind and The Bodyguard.

I give Sayles marks for trying a different type of science fiction film. But be warned, there's a lot of talk, and very little action, with The Brother From Another Planet.

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