|Photo by James Mooney|
2013, 86 minutes
Review by Joshua Handler
This film showed as part of the Sound + Vision series through the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Brothers Hypnotic is a pretty good documentary that's focused around a fascinating subject, but is too long and inconsequential to leave a lasting impact. Brothers Hypnotic follows a group of brothers who form the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (HBE from now on) prides themselves on being a group completely independent of big music corporations. Their dad is the famed jazz musician Phil Cohran, and he was the one who taught the boys to play music. The HBE started on the streets but gradually moved their way up. Brothers Hypnotic tells their story.
As a piece of documentary filmmaking, Brothers Hypnotic isn't great. While obviously cheaply shot, it sometimes looks too cheaply shot. The audio also should be better during some concert scenes. I realize budgets are tight and this was made by a non-professional filmmaker, but if you are going to make a film, especially a concert film, make it at least sound good.
The film also runs far too long, even at 86 minutes. 86 minutes is pretty standard for a documentary and the HBE certainly has enough material to sustain multiple docs, but director Reuben Atlas doesn't make the film electrifying enough or deep enough to sustain interest. Music films need to be electrifying and exciting. This isn't either. It is interesting, but doesn't have that extra spark. The movie has a lot of momentum in the first half, but really slows in the second half.
That being said, the HBE is a fascinating group and their energy and material keep the movie afloat. They are a group of self-made men who have an unconventional background (for example, many are from different mothers) and were just recently featured on the soundtrack to The Hunger Games. Each brother is shown and explored, however briefly. The brothers are a diverse group of men and hearing their complex story was very interesting. Atlas was very, very lucky he had such open, exciting subjects because his filmmaking skills will not keep a movie afloat in their current state. He needs to improve a lot before trying his hand at creating a bigger, more important documentary.
Overall, Brothers Hypnotic is a pretty good, not great film that tells an inspirational story. With a better director, this movie would have been phenomenal. But, it is merely good. However, not the kind of "good" that I'd recommend you pay money for.