Brother from Another Planet [1984]

Having been stymied in the midst of trying to make Matewan, John Sayles wrote what he thought could be a cheap, quick little movie and it turned out to be this near classic, which blends fish-out-of-water comedy with trenchant and serious science fiction. Joe Morton plays an extraterrestrial whose spaceship crashes in New York Harbor. When he swims ashore, he finds that most of Harlem is filled with earthlings who look just like him. He can't speak, but he quickly learns to communicate; he also finds ways to understand these strange, quarrelsome creatures, who seem to talk forever without really saying much. Sayles is at his economic best, drawing a touchingly complex performance from the silent Morton and good acting from a strong supporting cast of mostly unknowns. --Marshall Fine

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