Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

PAFF 2014 Review: 'Brothers Hypnotic' Documents the Struggle of Every Independent Artist

Photo of Jai Tiggett By Jai Tiggett | Shadow and Act February 16, 2014 at 12:54PM

This conflict between independent ideals and mainstream success is the basis for Brothers Hypnotic, the feature documentary from first-time filmmaker Reuben Atlas.
1
Brothers Hypnotic

It's tough to recall when or where I first learned about the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the Chicago-based band of eight brothers known for their signature blend of jazz, funk and hip hop. They've been in the public consciousness for some time, releasing 12 albums over the past 10 years and performing with everyone from De La Soul to Gorillaz to Prince. But it was interesting to learn that the group has been without a major record deal throughout their career and made their name mostly through street performing, self-releasing albums, and booking their own world tours. 

To be sure, the ensemble has had plenty of interest from record labels in the past but chose to stay independent in order to keep control of their music and image, a decision largely influenced by the anti-establishment views of their father, legendary jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran. This conflict between independent ideals and mainstream success is the basis for Brothers Hypnotic, the feature documentary from first-time filmmaker Reuben Atlas. The film, which premiered at this year's SXSW Film Festival and recently screened at Urbanworld Film Festival, gives a funny and candid look at the brothers' unconventional upbringing and how it shaped their approach to music. 

Through verite footage and interviews, Atlas contrasts stories of the brothers' childhood with their inspiring climb from street corner performances to an eventual overseas tour. Growing up with their father, their three different mothers and approximately 23 siblings under the same roof, they're raised with a sense of discipline and black consciousness that eventually makes them view the system - in this case, the record industry - with suspicion. Ultimately they must decide how to define themselves in the shadow of who their father raised them to be. 

With mostly low-budget visuals, the film depends on the electricity of the band's performances to keep us interested. With their eight horns raised, rocking back and forth and occasionally adding rap to the mix, their energy is palpable. The other big draw is their charisma off stage - whether comically analyzing a review of their album or squabbling over which songs to perform on tour, the brothers provide more than enough laughs and drama to fill out the loose narrative. 

At 84 minutes, the doc feels a bit long, and it's easy to envision a one-hour version working well for public broadcast. Still, Atlas does a fine job painting a complete picture of his subjects, and giving us a few musical treats along the way. 

*

Brothers Hypnotic is currently screening at Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. 



Shadow & ActNewsletter