MODERN ROMANCE
1981, Sony Repertory, 93 min, USA, Dir: Albert Brooks

In his second feature as writer, director and star, Albert Brooks plays a film editor whose precision in the cutting room is hopelessly opposite from his chaotic love life. In spite of their obvious incompatibility, he and girlfriend Kathryn Harrold keep breaking up and getting back together in a vicious - but outrageously funny - cycle that exposes the neuroses of modern love. Anyone who wants to see Brooks' audacity as a director need look no further than the intricate staging of his long, lonely night at home after he takes Quaaludes to drown his sorrows.


DEFENDING YOUR LIFE
1991, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: Albert Brooks

When ad exec Albert Brooks dies in a car accident, he learns what the afterlife is really like - a combination theme park and Hollywood screening room, where the deceased are forced to "defend" moments from their lives in the way that Hollywood directors have to defend their work from critics and studio executives. Brooks finds love with Meryl Streep, another of the recently departed, but their relationship is complicated by the fact that Brooks suspects they might be going on to very different places. Brooks' masterpiece is not only a witty philosophical comedy but perhaps the best love story of the 1990s.


REAL LIFE
1979, Paramount, 99 min, USA, Dir: Albert Brooks

Filmmaker Albert Brooks, playing a hilariously self-critical version of himself, follows a typical American family around with cameras in an effort to create cinema verite. The only problem is that when the family doesn't act according to his vision, Brooks begins interfering with them so that he can shape a more compelling "reality." Charles Grodin is brilliant as the father in Brooks' feature debut, a comedy at least 30 years ahead of its time in its prediction of the pleasures and pitfalls of reality TV.


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