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Trailers from Hell: Marshall Harvey on Albert Brooks' Otherworldly Limbo Dramedy 'Defending Your Life'

Photo of Trailers From Hell By Trailers From Hell | Thompson on Hollywood January 24, 2014 at 3:05PM

To Live and Shake and Die in LA! concludes at Trailers from Hell, with editor Marshall Harvey introducing Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life," starring Meryl Streep and Brooks.
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Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks in "Defending Your Life"
Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks in "Defending Your Life"

To Live and Shake and Die in LA! concludes at Trailers from Hell, with editor Marshall Harvey introducing Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life," starring Meryl Streep and Brooks.

Albert Brooks’ 1991 dramedy finds Brooks himself as a recently deceased ad executive caught in an otherworldly limbo where he must, literally, defend his life to a heavenly court in order to determine his fate in the afterlife. It’s a terrific premise but the comic possibilities are somewhat deflated by writer/director Brooks’ decision to remake himself into a bona fide romantic leading man. The newly reformed comedian ends up indulging in many of the cliches he usually skewers. With Meryl Streep as Brooks’ celestial sweetheart and the great Rip Torn as his less than angelic attorney.

This article is related to: Video, Video, Trailers, Trailers from Hell, Trailers, Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.