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Mike Nichols : Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism (Hardcover) (Kyle Stevens)
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In Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism, Kyle Stevens argues that to fully grasp the legacies of Hollywood cinema, especially the contours of characters, we must acknowledge the ways that Mike Nichols overhauled the idea of psychological realism. With iconic movies like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,The Graduate, and Carnal Knowledge, Nichols was the most prominent American director during the cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Stevens shows that his films were also central to critical debates at the emergence of Cinema Studies as a discipline, shaping discussions about authorship, character form, and aesthetic merit. Focusing on Nichols' classic movies, as well as later films such asSilkwood, The Birdcage, and Angels in America, Stevens demonstrates that the realism of Nichols' characters lies not in the plausibility of their actions but in their inherent mystery: the way they exhibit the unknowability of the contents of other minds. By attending to the puzzling words and silences, breaths and laughter, that comprise Nichols' characters, Stevens uncovers new insights into the subversive potential of improvisation, close-ups, chameleonic stars, and satire. Ultimately, from the Free Speech Movement to feminism to the linguistic turn, Stevens reveals how Nichols' oeuvre, and Hollywood itself, participated in several of the nation's most urgent social, political, and philosophical advances.