Disclosure: Birth.Movies.Death. is owned by the Alamo Drafthouse.
Albert Brooks' movies are absolutely essential viewing. Full stop. No qualifications needed. As I put it when I (briefly) wrote about his defining masterpiece, Modern Romance:
"As a director, [Albert Brooks] is considerably less than prolific, churning out a mere seven features over forty years. But each of his films carries its author’s thumbprint – a reflexive sense of self-loathing that haunted the auteur from Real Life (’79) all the way up to Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (’05). Brooks is often putting himself under his own microscope, simultaneously celebrating the world in which he lives and his viewpoint while violently tearing his ego to shreds. His filmography is a wonder of self-awareness, to the point of being wholly uncomfortable for the viewer to sit through."
Now, if you live in Austin and love cinema - which is basically a qualification for residing in ATX at this point - the Drafthouse Ritz is putting on a four feature program that highlights the queasy wonder of Brooks' ability to make you laugh and cringe simultaneously.
"Sorry For Laughing" will begin with Brooks' debut (Real Life ['79]) and end with his ode to the afterlife (Defending Your Life ['91]), with Modern Romance ('81) and Lost In America ('85) filling the gaps in-between. As the programmers themselves put it in their notes:
"A paradigm-shattering stand up performer, Albert Brooks's strain of comic narcissism and self-awareness paved the way for the likes of Garry Shandling, Larry David, and David Letterman. With his first four features as a writer/director/star, Brooks skewers a specific brand of malcontents who mistake themselves for romantics -- a veritable mix of blasè yuppies, frustrated creatives, and awful lovers. Join us over four weekends to celebrate Brooks' comic genius with these special presentations."
The series kicks off this weekend, September 1st (snag your tickets here!), and sounds like one hell of a way to spend your afternoons. As a side note: "Sorry For Laughing" continues the Saturday programming trend in 2018 that this writer has been wholly enjoying. The local team here has been putting together some rather astounding sets of movies, including their Hitchcock homage/rip off series, and a showcase of great New Hollywood female performances. Most of these pictures are projected on 35mm celluloid and, if they're not, are presented via gorgeously restored DCPs.
Rep cinema is alive and well here in Austin, and we're all the better for it, thanks to the hard working cinephiles behind the scenes.