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MoMA Considers The Career of Mike Nichols

The Film Department of the Museum of Modern Art is mounting a career retrospective of Mike Nichols, one of the most successful and idiosyncratic filmmakers who has done the almost impossible: create original films with a specific voice within the gears of the assembly line Hollywood system. After a celebrated career as a comedian (part of the incomporable duo of Nichols and May) and theater director, Nichols, at the tender age of 32, took on the twin dragons of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the lacerating 1966 film adaptation of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF. That film pushed the envelope in terms of big screen sexuality and foul language and officially brought the 1960s aesthetic to the ossified halls of Hollywood. His follow-up, the emblematic THE GRADUATE, won the young director his one and only Oscar for a film that remains witty, smart and devastating in its depiction of bourgeois values and youthful rebellion.  

The film series, curated by Rajendra Roy, encompasses the scope of Nichols's directing career, from his staggering early successes through a fallow period in the 1970s and his re-emergence in the 1980s and 1990s with such seminal works as SILKWOOD (1983),  HEARTBURN (1986), WORKING GIRL (1988), POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990) and THE BIRDCAGE (1996). In recent years, Nichols has drawn on his theatrical roots to direct some important stage-to-film adaptations, including WIT (2001), CLOSER (2004) and his much praised production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play ANGELS IN AMERICA (2003). Kudos to MoMA, usually the cathedral for obscure and exotic cinema, for recognizing the gifts and contributions of a true American film master. For more information on the program, visit: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/films/873

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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