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Indie Inspiration: Mr. Albert Brooks

Indie Inspiration

Indie Inspiration: Mr. Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks. Where to begin. The man’s career is so long and varied, I can’t begin to pretend that this is going to be more than a simple blog post, because it’s not possible to go as long and as in depth here as I would like.

Besides, this way I get to give you a sampling; point you in the direction of wonderful work you need to revisit or see for the first time, or perhaps an interview you haven’t read yet.

Let’s talk about the funny for a moment. Truly, in terms of moment-to-moment laughs, and life-is-a-comedy of errors, it doesn’t get funnier than ‘Lost In America‘, a feature written and directed by Brooks in which he starred along side Julie Hagerty. The original 80s Yuppie couple that decide to give it all up, sell up, and travel across America together. I’ve long had a soft spot for apoplectic meltdowns – they are always funny to me, in life and on screen, whether it’s me or someone else having one  – and when I think about it, Mr. Brooks may be the author of that in my psyche because of his onscreen meltdown in this film.
“Nest Egg.”

Defending Your Life‘ – a strangely underrated film by Brooks, because it is lovely and heartbreaking AND funny.

“Ok, I’ll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.”

Though he did not write or direct it, his human comedic performance in ‘Broadcast News‘ is the soul of that film. Holly Hunter may have been the face, but he was the soul.
“Ok, I’ll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.”

He’s been a frequent guest on ‘The Simpsons’ over the years, but his first performance was in 1990, as Jacques, the handsome charming bowling instructor in Season 1, Episode 9, ‘Life in the Fast Lane‘. Before you roll your eyes and say “I’ve seen them all on TV, they’re on all the time!” watch this episode on DVD. Why? The outtakes. Good God, listening to the audio outtakes of Brooks’ improvisations are truly hilarious. No wonder they’re outtakes; take after take is unusable for the audible laughter in the studio on the part of the writer-producers. And what a masterful improvisor he is.

And this is just his comedic work. Did you see him as Bernie Rose in ‘Drive‘? This is a truly bone chilling performance. One of the keys to Brooks’ wonderful performance in this film is that he understands that he can play Rose like your calm, low-key Uncle Bernie precisely because he has all the power. He doesn’t need to play power and violence, he already has it. And that violence is coiled inside him like a snake, ready to strike at any time he deems it necessary. Or not even necessary; appropriate.

He wasn’t robbed of an Oscar; he was mugged.

And here we are at the end of your Albert Brooks sampler platter. No way to do him justice really, so I have to be content with this.
Of course now he is in Judd Apatow‘s ‘This is 40‘, and to honor one of his idols, Apatow interviews Brooks in the Hollywood, Comedy Issue (January 2013) of Vanity Fair.

It’s a fabulous interview about Brooks’ life, comedy and the hell of – not making movies, but of getting them released – and I am grateful for it.

Your Indie Inspiration: Mr. Albert Brooks in Vanity Fair. READ IT FOR FREE HERE
Subscribe to the Digital Edition of VF on iTunes.

Follow Mr. Brooks on TWITTER here.

And just because I love you, for your viewing pleasure: a CLIP from Albert Brooks’ MOTHER.



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