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Becoming Mike Nichols

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Becoming Mike Nichols is a documentary film that seeks to take an in-depth look into the life and career of one of American cinema’s most beloved and renowned figures – director Mike Nichols. Originally aired on HBO in 2016, and directed by Douglas McGrath, the 72-minute long film stitches together a compilation of interviews, recordings, and exclusive footage that brings together Mike Nichols' famous works, his creative processes, his artistic accomplishments, and the struggles he battled throughout his journey.

The film showcases Nichols' life from his humble beginnings in the 1950s to an accomplished director of the 1980s-90s of American cinema. The documentary becomes a window into the life of an artist who pushed boundaries, tugged at themes that were challenging and risky, and created an enduring legacy in American film and theatre.

The narratives are supported by appearances from high-profile actors such as Ann-Margret, Anne Bancroft, and Richard Burton. These personalities share their personal experiences of working with Mike Nichols, thereby providing insights into his sketch comedy collaborations, his transition into the director's chair and his work on stage and screen, cumulating a protuberant and groundbreaking career that spanned more than four decades.

The film unspools Nichols' fervor for the art of storytelling through surviving tapes of the last interviews he gave before his death in 2014. Nichols’ manages to captivate audiences with his candid recollections on the tectonic events of his life and career, his loves, his regrets, and his constant search for authenticity in his work. The intimate talks display the director's wit, charm, and profound understanding of the art and craft of filmmaking.

In Becoming Mike Nichols, Nichols closely examines his breakthrough hits such as 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' and 'The Graduate'. These two masterpieces not only marked the beginning of Nichols’ critical acclaim in the industry but also gave audiences a glimpse into his brilliance in direction and his knack for showcasing intricate human relationships and complexities.

The film also brings out Nichols’ unique directorial style - his significant techniques, his particular passion for rehearsal and collaborative creation, his ability to draw extraordinary performances from actors, and his exceptional skill in molding scripts into visual poetry. His passion for the theatre is also vividly portrayed, ranging from his early days in the comedy duo Nichols and May to his acclaimed directorial performances on Broadway.

Through the personal retellings of Ann Margret, Anne Bancroft, and Richard Burton, audiences get a chance to understand, appreciate, and feel the impact that Nichols made on the lives of the people he worked with, and on the scope of American filmmaking.

Particularly captivating is the tribute given by Anne Bancroft, who played the unforgettable role of 'Mrs. Robinson' in The Graduate. Bancroft sheds light on Nichols' exceptional knack for making the actors dig deep into their characters, encouraging them to discover and portray the intricacies and nuances that made each character so compelling and real.

However, Becoming Mike Nichols is not just about the director's glittering successes. The film also presents an unflinching portrayal of his failures and disappointments. Nichols speaks candidly about his not-so-successful ventures and how he learned from these setbacks, providing aspiring filmmakers valuable lessons on resilience and perseverance.

The documentary, Becoming Mike Nichols, succeeds in painting a vivid and comprehensive portrait of a cinematic giant. It expertly shines a light on Nichols' genius, while subtly exploring his vulnerabilities. Above all, it is a celebration of Nichols as an artist: passionate, intense, brilliant, flawed, and wonderfully human. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in filmmaking and the art of storytelling.

Becoming Mike Nichols is a Documentary movie released in 2016. It has a runtime of 72 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.1. It also holds a MetaScore of 69.

How to Watch Becoming Mike Nichols

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Douglas McGrath
Mike Nichols, Jack OBrien
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