Albert Brooks

October 5 to October 18

Perhaps the greatest living native-born American comic talent, Albert Brooks, born Einstein (!), is a son of showbiz—his father was a popular radio comedian. Brooks began his career deconstructing the classic setup-punchline style of professional comedy. After a successful stint as a conceptual stand-up and a brief run as house filmmaker in the early years of Saturday Night Live, Brooks turned to feature filmmaking, and over the course of nearly four decades would go on to direct and star in a small, demanding, and impeccable collection of films, most of them written in collaboration with his late, great co-scenarist Monica Johnson. Long before “likability” became a buzz-word, Brooks was challenging audiences with unsweetened depictions of narcissism, neediness, neurosis, and other unflattering states, in under-your skin movies that elicit the uncomfortable laughter of recognition. Matching a quicksilver wit with exacting perfectionism, with each film Brooks seems to capture something essential of the time in which he’s working, to diagnose new symptoms of American folly. While we hope and wait for a very necessary new film, however, we can revisit the painfully funny and sometimes just plain painful comedies of Albert Brooks, maestro of the socially and emotionally maladroit.

Previously Screened