Today: May 30, 2024

ReFocus – The Films of Albert Brooks

One of the key figures in television and film comedy, Albert Brooks is something of an unsung hero. Despite working since 1969, it has taken until now for the first sustained, critical collection of essays on his immense body of work to be published – and it was certainly worth the wait. Edited by Christian B. Long, this hearty tome collects 10 essays on the various stages of Brooks’ career and looks at his work in their cultural contexts, while also analysing each film in detail. Ultimately, this celebratory book argues that Brooks’ acclaimed body of works across stand-up, voice-overs, writing and acting deserves a wider viewership and a greater critical appreciation. 

Covering Brooks’ entire career from his beginnings in the late 1960s/early 1970s right up to his more well-known work including voicing Marlin in Finding Nemo and his celebrated performance as the villainous Bernie Rose in Drive, this book is an absolute goldmine of insight and analysis for fans of the beloved funnyman. I for one have been waiting patiently for a book like this on Brooks ever since I first saw Defending Your Life many years ago, and I am utterly delighted with the result. 

This is an immense work for fans, newcomers, casual film-watchers, and students alike. There is something here for everyone who has ever enjoyed Brooks’ self-deprecating wit and sarcasm, while also urging those who’ve never seen his work to jump in as soon as possible. With The Criterion Collection recently releasing two of his finest films on Blu-rayLost in America and the aforementioned Defending Your Life – there’s no time like now to jump on the Brooks train. 

Contents

1. Introduction, Christian B. Long

2. Irony Ends in Why, Thomas Britt

3. The Counterculture Squared: Albert Brooks’ Saturday Night Live, Jeff Menne

4. Your General Humor Buildup: Constructing Albert Brooks, JD Connor

5. When Success is Failure, Christian B. Long

6. Easy Riders, Raging Yuppies: Lost in America and the Work of the Professional-Managerial Class, Derek Nystrom

7. Albert Brooks Channeling the Feminine, Rebecca Bell-Metereau

8. Defending Purgatorio: Dante, Brooks, and Finding One’s Celestial Place, Frank Percaccio

9. Albert Brooks’ Anatomy of Love, Enid Stubin

10. Finding Brooks: Animating the Baby Boomer Generation in Finding Nemo, Dietmar Meinel

11. Debt, Payback, and Economics in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Tom Ue

ReFocus: The Films of Albert Brooks is available in hardback and ebook this August from Edinburgh University Press. You can purchase the book here.

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