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What's wrong with contemporary cinema? Slob comedies, comic book atrocities, and dialog-driven animation are poised to break box office records this summer and Albert Brooks can't get arrested in Hollywood.

Why isn't Albert Brooks making three movies a year? Surely there isn't a finer comedic director currently at work, yet his sly, self-deprecating satires have never caught fire with the general movie-going public.

Albert is hot on the promotion trail for his first novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America. He hasn't directed a movie in five years. The last one tanked at the box office primarily because it contained the word "Muslim" in its title. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World could have been a Bob Hope vehicle. Albert (playing "Albert") is asked by the government to go to Pakistan to find out what makes Muslims laugh. To achieve peace through laughter - what a mind boggling concept to pitch during the Bush administration. I thought it wise to send up a flare to alert you about the existence of a man referred to by his peers as "the Comedians' comedian."

Real Life marked Albert's feature debut. Based on the groundbreaking 1973 PBS series An American Family, it stands as a broadside against reality TV decades before the term was coined.

I've always been a fan of coming attractions that play like short films. (Hitchcock's tour of the Bates Motel is a crowning example.) Albert took it one step further by filming his trailer for Real Life in 3-D...or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

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Colonna May 13, 2011 @ 6:08 a.m.

Don't forget his great sitdown interview with Uncle Miltie!


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