“I have seen the future, and it is a bald-headed man from New York!”
Has there even been a specially-produced commercial announcing that Netflix was adding the library of a specific writer/director? I think this might be the first, and it feels appropriate that it”s done in spectacular dry Albert Brooks fashion. Tomorrow, the streaming video service will add all seven of the feature films that were written and directed by Brooks, and that is reason to rejoice whether you”re intimately familiar with all of them or new to them completely.
I would argue that he”s made three perfect comedies and four films that all feature work that is smart and personal and carefully-observed. Modern Romance is a terrific movie that flies in the face of everything we know about how romantic comedy works, charting the ups and (mostly) downs of a relationship between Brooks and Kathryn Harrold. Lost In America is a wicked refutation of the open-road fantasies of the Baby Boomer generation, with Brooks co-starring opposite the amazing Julie Hagerty. And Defending Your Life is perhaps the best comic take on the afterlife ever committed to film, with Meryl Streep giving one of her most delightful performances opposite Brooks. I would certainly urge you to also watch the prescient Real Life, the warm and witty Mother, and his more sporadically successful films The Muse and Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World, but any director who makes three films as flawless as his big three are gets an all-time pass into the roll call of comedy titans.
Here”s the ad that Netflix released today:
I love it. I love that you”ll be able to see all of these films, all released by different companies, in one place in an orchestrated effort to make his work accessible. And I hope this is the beginning of a push by Netflix to offer up full career retrospectives of directors on a rotating basis. There”s real value in this kind of curation. Imagine, for example, if they did this when A24″s excellent new documentary De Palma ends up on home video. If they managed to nail down all of De Palma”s films at once so you could go watch any of them the moment you finished the documentary, I”ll bet you”d end up with lot of people trying things they”ve never seen before, and you could really make the case for why certain filmmakers are worth this kind of study.
It”s a cool move. I hope it”s not an isolated one.
Real Life, Modern Romance, Lost In America, Defending Your Life, Mother, The Muse, and Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World are all available on Netflix starting July 1.