Still John Sayles's most provocative work, THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET blends a stock satirical premise--a look at the world through the eyes of an alien--with a runaway slave narrative, rendering a loosely constructed but keenly observed allegory of race and class in America. The
Brother (Joe Morton) is an escaped slave from an unnamed planet who crash-lands his space capsule off Ellis Island. Unable to speak, and marked by his ragged clothing and dark complexion, he's taken for a homeless black man; New Yorkers treat him accordingly, with reactions ranging from pity to
contempt. After some dispiriting encounters with white people, he makes his way to Harlem a...