Found these lists (twelve total which I've compiled) a couple years back and they slowly became my bible for weird…
Defending Your Life
The first true story of what happens after you die.
In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage.
Man I would lose my trial soooo hard.
From REAL LIFE through at least this film, Albert Brooks' movies depict a kind of post-Altamont fallout in which the Boomer ethos takes hold but only corrupts the status quo instead of overthrowing it. Me Generation solipsism births REAL LIFE's capitalistic and fame-seeking selling of the self for air-time. MODERN ROMANCE attempts to work out its titular concept by scrutinizing how that same narcissism and a social awareness informed by simple-minded emotional utopias sold on TV affects the unpredictability and demands of a relationship. LOST IN AMERICA flat-out rewrites Boomer touchstone EASY RIDER from a symbol of generational promise to the final word on its failure to launch.
DEFENDING YOUR LIFE suggests that even the afterlife isn't safe from Boomer-fication.…
My favourite depiction of the afterlife, as a rather drab bureaucratic place of sensual delight mingled with baffling lack of pertinent detail. It's a secular person's dream! Brooks and Streep are at their best; their romance is unfussy, cleverly played, and deeply affecting. With every year that passes, Brooks' work looks better and better.
Why do I waste so much time watching bad movies when things like this exist?
Directed by, written by, produced by, marketed by, starring and presumably watched by Albert Brooks (he’s a busy man), Defending Your Life is a sweet, light-hearted comedy that doesn’t outstay its welcome too much but lacks both the laughs and the emotional pull to really make the most of its fantastic concept.
Brooks (Drive) plays Daniel Miller, a man who wakes up in Heaven’s “waiting area” after being killed in a car accident on his 40th birthday. Initially bemused by his surroundings, Daniel discovers that he must “defend” his life in order…
I really should hate this movie. It's a high concept comedy, shot in an unremarkable style, designed as a showcase for one man's comedic sensibilities, that turns poignant at the end. I just described every single Adam Sandler or Kevin James film. But this is an Albert Brooks film. Rather than using a mere 3% of its brain, this film uses the whole damn thing. It's funny, it's thoughtful and it's also rather romantic. We shouldn't buy how quickly Meryl Streep falls for Brooks, but thanks to their performances and the filmmaking, we get it. We are in love too. This film shouldn't work, but it does! It leaves me with all sorts of warm, optimistic, hopeful feelings. It makes the fear go away.
Defending Your Life proves a lot about Albert Brooks and the power of concept, but it also shows that while he can work with a film of ostensibly lower-stakes and less of a plot, he can also create an utterly beautiful, contemplative film with an intelligent idea. This combines the best tendencies of Brooks with great performances and rationed doses of optimism and cynicism - specifically with the film's ending - that easily wins one over. Powerful stuff.
Read the full review on my personal website, stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/5299/defending-life
Albert Brooks dies
Meryl Steep dies
A nice film based on nice ideas. Every time I laughed I felt that my laughter was deserved. I wish that the ideas had been thought through more technically, as I feel like there was quite a lot of missing information. I would recommend stopping the film a minute before the ending as the last minute or so completely wrecks it and seems to go back on the entire point (or what I thought was the point) of the film. Better that Daniel had jumped onto the bus to show how far he had come, and then had been left behind, as he was clearly not ready to move on, and could have lived another life in appreciation of the beauty of Earth that Julia had taught him to see. Annoying!
This is sort of the cinematic distillation of "yeah, it's fine, I guess." The aggressively secular Judgement City has a few fun things to watch, particularly the sense of discovery early in the movie as Albert Brooks' character explores the purgatorial afterlife and all the weird conveniences that go with it: delicious food, convenient and theme-park-esque public transit. And I suppose the romance with Meryl Streep's character is cute enough. The movie falls into this peculiar space where there's not a whole lot "wrong" with it, but there's nothing all that exceptional either--the perks I just named are mildly pleasant at best. I've heard people talk highly of Albert Brooks's film output; maybe I'm just starting with the wrong movie.
It's weird to watch a movie in which Meryl Streep acted, but was not nominated for an Academy Award.
Hey, this movie was actually quite good. I hadn't heard of it but my parents liked it so we watched it tonight. Written and directed by Albert Brooks, it's a story of a guy who dies and has to defend himself in a sort of court trial in pugatory so he can "move on". The movie doesn't take a lot of time explaining what "moving on" is, but it's not just going to heaven, it's something else - the movie builds a sort of unique little universe for itself, and gives you just enough information to feel comfortable there and not so much that there are plotholes, or anything like that.
That movie doesn't take that aspect of itself too…
Defending Your Life is a romantic comedy in the same vein as Groundhog Day. A man is thrown into an otherworldly situation to make a self-discovery about himself and change his life for the better. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray is trapped in time, here Albert Brooks is trapped from ascending to the next stage of existence.
I've been told this has less bite than Albert Brooks' earlier films, but it was sweet and sentimental in all the right ways. Its content may be holy, but the humor is wicked.
This film is cute without being overly cloying, which is impressive.
I also enjoyed its blatant and intentionally dull early 90s architecture throughout. It reminded me of my childhood in a way, aha!
Al Brooks knows how to find humor in his own crippling fears. The writer-director even has us laughing along at his own Judgment Day. "Defending Your Life" offers an impressively unique vision of the afterlife - a blend of Brooks's humor, fear, and appreciation for cinema.
Complete list. :-(
From his book Essential Cinema.
A huge thanks to everyone who added films, helped me find films with alternate titles,…