Product DetailsDefending Your Life Albert Brooks proves there's laughs after death with this almost heavenly comedy--almost heaven as in Judgment City, where recently perished Daniel Miller (Brooks) learns whether he is worthy of advancing to a higher plane of existence or will be sent back to earth for another incarnation. His fate will be determined in a very special trial, during which scenes from his life are replayed on a giant screen. "Isn't it realistic?" a judge asks. "It makes some people nauseous." While the steely prosecutor (Lee Grant) will try to prove that Daniel failed in life to face his fears and insecurities, his glad-handing, reassuring defender (Rip Torn) will argue on behalf of this hapless "little brain" (a Judgment City term for residents of earth). As Woody Allen did for the future in Sleeper, so does Brooks create an original vision of the afterlife. In Judgment City, white-robed residents can eat as much as they want without guilt or fear of gaining weight. They can also visit the Past Lives Pavilion, where they are greeted by a hologram of--who else--Shirley MacLaine. Daniel finds himself touched by an angel. Meryl Streep gives an enchanting performance as Julia, whose exemplary life is in stark contrast to his. During her trial, the court watches in rapture as she saves not only children, but a cat from a burning building. Daniel and Julia are a match made in Judgment City, but first Daniel must summon up the courage to express his true feelings for her, or she will surely advance without him. Defending Your Life is Brooks's most ambitious film and, with Mother, his most accessible. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World You don't have to be an Albert Brooks fan to enjoy Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, but it helps. As always, Brooks (as writer, director, and star) presents a timely comedic premise that's ripe with possibilities, and he capitalizes on his ideas with witty one-liners, hilarious expressions, and comedic situations that are patently absurd and yet, in Brooks' hands, amusingly believable. At a time of great fear and turmoil in the Middle East, Brooks plays a barely-fictional version of himself (a respected comedian named Albert Brooks) and dares to ask, "what's considered funny in the world of Islam?" That's what the State Department wants to know (in the President's effort to improve U.S.-Muslim relations), so they dispatch Brooks to India and Pakistan to write a 500-page report on what makes Muslims laugh. That he never really finds an answer is beside the point, because Looking for Comedy is more about the nature of comedy itself--specifically, the nature of Albert Brooks' comedy, which is self-deprecating, low-key, and so idiosyncratic that it defies mainstream expectations. After a brilliant opening, Looking for Comedy loses some of its momentum, but it's filled with brilliant bits and throwaway gags that keep you smiling from start to finish.
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