What is it with teams of movie-making brothers? It's a thing, isn't it? Probably it started with the Warner brothers, but in recent years it has seemed to leak all over the collective consciousness. Just think of all the Coens, Quays, Shaws, Scotts, Pangs, Hugheses, Duplasses, Wachowskis, Spierigs. And of the many others I'm surely neglecting, including myself and my brother Mark, who made a short film together once when I was in college.
Nowadays, the whole movie-making brothers thing seems particularly concentrated in Northern California. Here, we have our Oscar-nominated Belic brothers, who made Genghis Blues. We have the Polish Brothers, from Sacramento, most recently of The Astronaut Farmer. We have the Butcher Brothers, who are not actually brothers, or butchers, but are in fact two fraternally good friends who make horror movies together, including, most recently, The Violent Kind.
And now we have a weird confluence of sibling cinema being displayed on local screens over the course of the next few weeks.
First: local writer-director Peter Bratt's La Mission, starring his brother Benjamin as an abusively macho Mission-dwelling Muni driver and low-rider enthusiast who can't deal with his only son being gay. Then: It Came from Kuchar, Jennifer Kroot's film about the legendary Mission-dwelling underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. Finally, local writer-director-producer-stars Logan and Noah Miller's Touching Home, an autobiographical story of twentysomething twins trying to keep alive both their shared dream of playing pro baseball and their homeless alcoholic father, played by Ed Harris.
These three should make for an illuminating triple feature. Watch them back to back and you may notice that in addition to the whole movie-making brothers thing, they seem to have some other elements in common, too. Like gumption, dad issues, tearjerking sincerity, good-looking dudes going occasionally shirtless, sensational photography of familiar Nor-Cal locations, compassion, self-empowerment, and particularly in the Millers' case, a heartwarming making-of backstory. (Just how did they manage to ambush Ed Harris in that alley behind the Castro Theatre and convince him to be in their very firstmovie? Well, read their bestselling memoir and find out.)
Are the films any good? Well, let's just say their kindred spiritualism runs deep. The Bratts' movie feels more like a mural than a film, and the Millers clearly are a couple of rookies, just as the Kuchars are kooks. Don't think that will stop them. Probably nothing will. At least not as long as they've got each other.
La Mission opens Friday, April 16, 2010. It Came from Kuchar opens Friday, April 16 at the Roxie in San Francisco and the Elmwood in Berkeley. Touching Home opens Friday, April 30.