Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

"Why is it worth telling one story and not another? Well, the easy answer is it's really secretly about all our lives." - Mike Nichols



What a loss.

Of all things, this is a small anecdote, when I was twelve years old my Mom wanted to see The Birdcage and wanted some company, so she took me (part of the thinking was, hey, it's Robin Williams, it's Nathan Lane, it's Jack-friendly).  I dug the movie even then, so much so that I saw in either the newspaper advertising it that there was this thing called a "website", so I decided to finally try out this newfangled thing called the Internet that I didn't understand.  It probably wasn't THE first, but it's the first website I can remember ever going to... for the Birdcage.

But anyway, talk about a career!  In film, on stage, in comedy with Elaine May.  If he'd only directed (also the late) Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman (with Hoff as Willie Loman) and his last film, Charlie Wilson's War, he'd be a legend.  Hell, The GRADUATE was enough.  But you also had Catch 22, Carnal Knowledge, The Fortune, Working Girl, Wolf (damn, him and Nicholson together, watch the fuck out!) Primary Colors, Closer, Charlie Wilson, the HBO Angels in America adaptation... and by all accounts on the interwebs, pretty much sounds like the nicest, funniest person to work with too (also gave a helluva commentary track with Steven Soderbergh on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf).  It's hard for filmmakers who care about strong dramatic/comic stories with dynamic, big-and-small personality-driven characters (mostly big, but with PRESENCE) our day and age haven't been inspired his work. 

As is usually the case, the work speaks for itself - here's ten scenes - and though Nichols didn't write his scripts, he exemplified what it means to be a strong filmmaker with a point of view.... taste:

Carnal Knowledge (1972) - Nicholson.  Ann Margaret in bed.  Nuff said



Sex.


How to do 'awkward' on camera:


Spader.


Clinvolta


Man oh man... speaking of RIP (also a lesson in knowing where to cut in a scene, it's almost three minutes and three shots):


And this too (speaking of political... just smash a window when you can)


And does it get much more epic than... Orson Welles?


Hoo-hah. 


And, at the beginning, 48 years ago - George and Martha




BONUS ROUND!