Nov 02,2007 00:00
So you're all set to see that new movie - the one about those brothers and their strained relationship and zany adventures and calamitous romantic lives, all of it culminating in heart-rending attempts at redemption.
Unless, naturally, it's "We Own the Night," a chronicle of two battling brothers on an express train to pain (as well as on opposite sides of the law).
Or maybe it's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (out Nov. 9), about two brothers on the same side of the law - the wrong side, as it happens - one of whom is carrying on with the other's mate.
That's not to be confused with "Dan in Real Life," about two brothers without notable legal issues but, again, with that awkward situation of one sibling coveting the other's soul mate.
Brotherly bonds - or lack thereof - have been been a powerful subject for storytelling ever since Cain had those creative differences with Abel.
Lately, though, movies have seemed so fixated on male kin that it's reasonable to ask - paraphrasing the title of a film made (conveniently) by two siblings, Joel and Ethan Coen: "O brother, where aren't thou?"
It's not just the people in the movies, either. It's also those making them. The Coens themselves hit movie screens again Nov. 16 with "No Country for Old Men." Already in theaters is "The Heartbreak Kid," the latest movie from the renegade Farrelly brothers, who themselves made one of the ultimate brother movies a few years ago: "Stuck on You," a comedy about Siamese twins.
And turning a nifty both-sides-of-the-camera trick, Ben Affleck directs his younger brother, Casey, in the crime drama "Gone Baby Gone," which opened the same day as "We Own the Night."
There's a TV angle, too: brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, who jointly won an Emmy in 2004 for the pilot episode of "Arrested Development" (itself a show that dealt with some brotherhood issues), direct the current ABC series "Carpoolers."
Documenting this phenomenon is one thing. Explaining why it's happening now is another. That might require the advice of a psychologist. Say, Dr. Joyce Brothers.
Or maybe just someone who makes movies with his own brother.
Bryan Young is a producer and assistant director of independent documentaries, including "This Divided State" and "The BYU 25," which just finished production.
He has teamed on some movies with his brother, Jason - happily, so far. (Young also co-writes the comic "Pirate Club," which he has showcased innumerous pilgrimages to San Diego's Comic-Con.)
Young speculates that the brother upsurge in movies might stem from the country's red-vs.-blue rift, something that figures strongly in the documentaries he has worked on.
"I wonder if it has anything to do with the emphasis on family values in the political spectrum," he adds. "Filmmakers and artists go back to their family stories. They think about their own family values and wonder where those values came from."
As for why these thoughts find voice in brother relationships in particular: Brothers have long been an archetype of human bonds - or conflict - of all kinds, from the utopian "brotherhood of man" in John Lennon's "Imagine" to the ominous, omnipresent Big Brother in George Orwell's "1984."
In that sense, a movie like "The Darjeeling Limited" might stand for something larger than the woes of three wayward siblings who can't get along.
"It's about three brothers who are very fractured in both their personal lives and their beliefs," says Young about the movie. "The one brother kind of takes it upon himself to take the other two and force them on a healing journey. To get past all that and act with unity again.
"That could be seen as very much a larger prescription for what we need."
Or at least a peppier prescription than the one offered up by Woody Allen's next movie, "Cassandra's Dream" (coming Nov. 30), in which two brothers played by Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor get talked into becoming hit men.
As the old saying goes: "Brother, can you share a crime?"