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.


BROADCAST NEWS
1987, 20th Century Fox, 133 min, USA, Dir: James L. Brooks

“He personifies everything that you've been fighting against. And I'm in love with you. How do you like that? I buried the lead.” In James L. Brooks’ groundbreaking, astute critique of televised media’s slippery transition from hard news to fluff pieces, Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt make up the three points in a wonderfully complex love triangle. Jane Craig (Hunter) is an endearingly neurotic and talented broadcast news producer, whose close friendship with bright but sparkle-lacking correspondent Aaron Altman (Brooks) is thrown into trouble when a handsome, charismatic and simple-minded rookie anchor (Hurt) becomes the sensation of their show - and a confusing romantic interest for Jane. All three leads were nominated for Oscars, with additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. With Jack Nicholson in an unbilled role as intimidating, god-like anchor Bill Rorich.


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