887 Lost in America

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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The Narrator Returns
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887 Lost in America

#1 Post by The Narrator Returns » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:13 pm

Lost in America

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In this hysterical satire of Reagan-era values, written and directed by Albert Brooks, a successful Los Angeles advertising executive (Brooks) and his wife (Julie Hagerty) decide to quit their jobs, buy a Winnebago, and follow their Easy Rider fantasies of freedom and the open road. When a stop in Las Vegas nearly derails their plans, they're forced to come to terms with their own limitations and those of the American dream. Brooks's barbed wit and confident direction drive Lost in America, a high point in the string of restless comedies about insecure characters searching for satisfaction in the modern world that established his unique comic voice and transformed the art of observational humor.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED EDITION:

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New conversation with director Albert Brooks and filmmaker Robert Weide
• New interviews with actor Julie Hagerty, executive producer Herb Nanas, and comic writer and director James L. Brooks
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Scott Tobias

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#2 Post by Lowry_Sam » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:05 pm

The Narrator Returns wrote:Not that we needed much more confirmation for Lost in America, but Albert Brooks directly confirmed its future release on Twitter.
I hope they use the original poster artwork, it's probably my favorite official poster from a Hollywood movie from that era. That being said, I can't believe I still haven't seen it yet, probably because I've always suspected that it doesn't live up to the poster.

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#3 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:59 pm

It's a classic film. So glad to see Criterion is getting it, and hopefully developing something with Brooks that could mean other films of his coming in.

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#4 Post by beamish13 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:59 pm

I hope we get a nice tribute to the late Monica Johnson on this. I'd love to know more about her working relationship with Brooks on his finest films.

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#5 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:02 pm

The cover for this should be a copy of the CC edition of Easy Rider lying in a trash can.

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#6 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:30 pm

Or an egg in a nest with a mute sign over it

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Re: Forthcoming: Lost in America

#7 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:32 am

Albert Brooks making his first appearance on Letterman (on NBC's Late Night), where he jokes about finding the financing for Lost in America. This was taped on November 24, 1982, a few years before the film was finally made.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#8 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:08 pm


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Re: 887 Lost in America

#9 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:43 pm


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Re: 887 Lost in America

#10 Post by Ribs » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:55 pm

Ooh, I appreciate that snippet in the review here that Criterion's used clips from the two Brooks films that preceded it in the supplements. I assume they'll be on the backburner like any other Director Criterion gets a few at a time of, but it's a very encouraging sign they'll be coming.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#11 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:49 pm

I haven't gone through the special features outside of the Albert Brooks-Robert Weide interview yet, but while that didn't have any clips from his previous movies, it does end with Brooks telling Weide, after they reveal a behind-the-scenes secret about Lost in America, "Let's ruin the other movies!". And the conversation sidesteps almost everything about Real Life and Modern Romance, leaving plenty of room for future conversations about those ones. Not that either of those is really a concrete smoking gun, but they are at least mildly encouraging about the possibility of future Brooks releases.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#12 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:41 am


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Re: 887 Lost in America

#13 Post by mteller » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:39 am

Jeez, Svet, how about some spoiler alerts on that review?

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#14 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:14 pm

Amazing how hysterical this was after so many viewings. I watched a handful of favorite scenes before skipping to the extras, and even though they repeat some of the same clips over and over again, I was cracking up each and every time. The two scenes about Mercedes are especially impressive after watching the extras because 1) we now know who was the voice on the other end of the phone and 2) the man in the other scene is Brooks's manager, and if he's never acted before, it's pretty slick how he nails the delivery of his lines when he reacts to Brooks's actions.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#15 Post by McCrutchy » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:33 am

Perhaps I need to watch this again, but unfortunately, it didn't really work for me. I haven't seen many of Brooks' films, and maybe I'm just not partial to his humor, but the whole movie just felt really uncomfortable, but in a sort of safe, non-threatening way, that allows you to predict what the end of the film will be long before it actually arrives. And even though the film is probably one of those where the journey is just as, if not more important than the destination, it never really felt like there was much of a journey going on.

I thought the film started off well, with a hilarious sort of rebuke of film criticism via Rex Reed's own words. And I did love the cinematography, especially all the location work and the various shots of the Winnebago driving through the country, especially the scene using "Born to Be Wild". I thought Julie Hagerty was great, too. The gambling scene is terrific, and I loved her cute smile and laugh. But I was really surprised how the film was a lot less insightful than I thought it would be. The basic premise seemed to end up being
SpoilerShow
not so much about the "American Dream", but rather that rich white people like being white rich people
and the movie seemed to do a great deal in service of that narrative. For example, I found it convenient how they
SpoilerShow
never have any car trouble, how the Winnebago is always spotless, and they always seem fresh and clean riding in it. And how, when Hagerty compulsively gambles away their nest egg, she doesn't put them in the red, or even bankrupt them, but instead is stopped just in time to leave just enough money that they can live okay for another few days. And I suppose my main issue is that not much happens after that. The scene with the cop was clever, but Brooks doesn't really have time to be taken down a peg by being a crossing guard--he's still lusting after Mercedes cars with leather interiors, after all--and then the movie lurches quickly to its gift-wrapped conclusion, without as much as showing Brooks groveling to get his job back.
I guess for me, I wanted the film to be a much more abrasive experience, if the ending was going where it ended up going.

I did enjoy the scenes with the casino manager and the unemployment office worker, because I thought those actors played off Brooks' character very well. But ultimately, I felt no sympathy for him, and despite her nature and performance, only a little sympathy for Hagerty, so of course, by the end, I was somewhere between disappointed and pissed off.

I also didn't watch the extras, so maybe they contextualize the film in a way that will make me appreciate what Brooks was trying to do a lot more. I will say that the new 2K scan is pretty fabulous, and it's great to see a domestic comedy film looking so brilliant on Blu-ray.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#16 Post by knives » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:02 am

You weren't supposed to have sympathy for him and your spoiler is dead right. Brooks' films are ultimately about how terrible Brooks is.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#17 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:49 am

I haven't seen Lost in America since the 80s, but I remember part of the point was that Brooks' adventure doesn't amount to much. Despite his Easy Rider fantasy, he's too ensconced in his caste to do anything too radical or suffer the kind of setbacks that would teach his character a lesson if this was someone else's film. Still, I remember thinking the ending was rushed and felt a bit flat; it's probably why I haven't re-watched the film in the ensuing decades.

For me, Brooks' second feature, Modern Romance, remains his best by keeping the narrative simple and satirizing something Brooks knew well: the film industry. As "knives" says, he always plays a terrible person, but I feel his films have had a huge influence on shows like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office where the humor often derives from awkwardness and misanthropy.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#18 Post by Drucker » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:03 am

McCrutchy I agree with you. I actually like the way the film ended, and some of the surprises did work quite well, but there seemed to be a whole lot of nothing happening in the middle of the movie, and despite a few excellent stand-alone scenes, I didn't care for the movie at large. I think a big part of that is also that the wife wasn't fully developed enough for the big first act twist to pay off for me.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#19 Post by cdnchris » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:40 am

Roger Ryan wrote:Still, I remember thinking the ending was rushed and felt a bit flat; it's probably why I haven't re-watched the film in the ensuing decades.
The ending was rushed but that was basically the punchline to the film:
SpoilerShow
after everything they went through, after all of the bullshit he had been spewing for a majority of the film, after they finally think they've found what they wanted they basically just "fuck it" and head back to their previous life without much thought to it, go back to "eat shit" as I think he says.
I could see how it wouldn't work for everyone, especially after all of the build up, but I laughed pretty hard at it.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#20 Post by swo17 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:47 am

Yeah, all of these criticisms are basically the whole raison d'être of the entire film.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#21 Post by McCrutchy » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:36 pm

I understand what people are saying, but to me, on first watch, he wasn't enough of a scumbag to be bothered about. I guess because I'm white and middle-class, I sort of identified with him in the beginning, but then, when it became apparent (too early on) that this wasn't working, and that
SpoilerShow
he was going to return to his job
I guess I felt like he didn't really earn that realization. It just sort of happens, not because life on the road is particularly difficult, because again, it isn't
SpoilerShow
remember, the vehicle is perfect, the don't lose all their money, Brooks serendipitously avoids a ticket and gets in a lopsided fight that results in a bloody nose instead of a trip to the hospital/morgue, and then, two weeks after he says "Fuck you!" to his boss multiple times, he manages to get his (surely hotly contested) job back, albeit with a 31% drop in pay. That's a pretty amazing amount of luck for one guy and his wife, especially considering all that could have gone wrong, and didn't. And that's my point. To me, it was less like Easy Rider, and more like some sort of yuppie's self-imposed Rumspringa, where he leaves his "people" for a small amount of time to taste the outside world, only to return, virtually consequence-free, and ostensibly having learned nothing other than that he likes being white and rich and "controlled"? miserable? I think maybe what I was yearning for was the idea that maybe they had learned something valuable from their journey, so even having one additional scene of Brooks behaving differently at his job, or perhaps them buying one of those cheaper, smaller homes they supposedly loved in the beginning, would have brought the film together for me.
But, like I said, maybe the film will improve for me on a second viewing,

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#22 Post by knives » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:00 pm

Yes, your spoiler again highlights exactly everything correctly, but I guess Brooks wasn't aiming for you.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#23 Post by McCrutchy » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:14 pm

knives wrote:Yes, your spoiler again highlights exactly everything correctly, but I guess Brooks wasn't aiming for you.
Maybe not. On the other hand, I remember enjoying The Muse, right down to tolerating the Elton John song, but maybe that was because of Sharon Stone (and Andie MacDowell).

In any event, hopefully, Criterion releases Modern Romance, as many have said that's Brooks' "best" film, and I want to experience it in the same high quality as Lost in America.
Last edited by McCrutchy on Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#24 Post by knives » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:24 pm

I should mention it is my least favorite. Real Life for life.

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Re: 887 Lost in America

#25 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:31 am

knives wrote:I should mention it is my least favorite.
Do you mean Modern Romance or Lost in America?
knives wrote:Real Life for life.
Agree with you on Brooks' first feature - hilarious throughout with a fantastic ending.

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