The Brother From Another Planet (1984)

(On DVD, December 2007) Think of this film as a meeting of two archetypes: “Obscure low-budget film that earns a steady amount of praise over the years” and “alien comes to Earth to reflect back on humanity’s foibles”. Of course, those two often come along with “overrated film praised by people who just want to look smart” and “boring story we’ve seen too many times already”. The 1984 vintage of the film is more visible in the torpid pacing and the muddy image quality than in the older technology surrounding the characters. The dialogues sometimes work and sometimes extend in infinity without any hope of a timely end. While some details of the film still feel fresh and relevant nearly twenty-five years later (the men in black, the social criticism), most of it now feels overlong and underplotted, more a stunt in bleeding-heart “let’s just be friend” film-making than a conventionally satisfying movie. Cinephiles will note that the film is directed by John Sayles (who would go on to bigger and better movies) and that it stars a young Joe Morton (who would re-appear in another small SF film named… Terminator 2)

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