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brother fron another planet

The Brother From Another Planet (1984)

John Sayles wrote and directed this eccentric drama-sci-fi-comedy, which follows the adventures of a mute, good-natured humanoid slave from another planet (Joe Morton) who looks like any other black man on the mean streets of Harlem as he's being chased by otherworldly bounty hunters (played by David Strathairn and director Sayles himself). The people of the neighborhood, impressed by his powers of telekinesis, adopt him as their "brother" and protect him from the bounty hunters. A strikingly insightful and heartfelt look at the concepts of race and belonging.

This film could be compared to STARMAN. Joe Morton ("Terminator 2") is amazing, in a mostly non-verbal role, as the alien. Director Sayles has an amusing cameo as an alien cop looking for Morton. The New York City photography is imaginative. A scene of Morton communicating with a pretty nightclub singer is a film highlight.

The cast includes: Joe Morton, Darryl Edwards, Steve James, Leonard Jackson, Bill Cobbs, and Fisher Stevens.

Directed by John Sayles.

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SYNOPSIS...

A dark skinned alien crash lands in New York harbor. He re-grows his injured foot, ending up in Harlem. A nice social worker finds the alien a place to stay.

The alien gets a job repairing video games. Light skinned aliens show up looking for the dark skinned alien. The dark alien has a romance with a black nightclub singer.

The dark alien kills a drug leader who caused a ghetto youth to O.D. Harlem residents corner the light skinned aliens, who self destruct. The dark skinned alien decides to stay on planet Earth.

REVIEW...

BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, Written, Directed, and Edited by John Sayles, is a unique, involving, Sci-Fi fable that also is an allegory about today's society and race relations.

Joe Morton, as the stranded alien, gives a wonderfully expressive performance, under Sayles adroit direction. The fact that Morton conveys numerous reactions and feelings, with no dialogue, is quite an accomplishment. Morton has gone on to co-star in the TV series "Equal Justice", and plays a strong supporting role in "Terminator 2", but no role has so effectively showcased his talent as this early performance.

The offbeat Musical Score has a jazzy, Jamaican flavor, with a lot of emphasis on steel drums. It seems an entirely appropriate aural background to this unique movie.

Sayles has come up with some fun, hip dialogue. When alien Sayles passes himself off as an immigration official seeking illegal alien Morton, a Harlem bartender asks to see a badge. Sayles replies, "Badges? What badges? We don't have to show you any badges!", a cute tip of the hat to the classic Bogart flick "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Sayles delivers consistently interesting screen imagery, including a beautiful shot of the Statue of Liberty, lit up at night, and a striking shot, at dawn, of New York's skyline.

Throughout the film, various characters open up to the mute Morton, who apparently qualifies as a great listener, telling him about their lives. It shows the hunger people have to communicate, and strikes a note of truth.

My favorite scene is where Morton meets the woman of his dreams, an attractive nightclub singer. Able to communicate only by nodding his head "Yes" and "No", he nonetheless charms her, as he does the viewer.

THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET should be highly watchable for most Sci-Fi fans. Sayles fans will be grinning from ear to ear. THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET offers stellar entertainment. 

If you liked THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET
you may enjoy STARMAN and/or TERMINATOR 2.