Eleven years and eight films later, Pixar brought the Toy Story series back for another spin – but as the fans of the previous films have already grown, the Toy Story series encounters its own sense of growth in the same way. But like the toys themselves in this belated third entry, the franchise has already endured having been forgotten in so long despite having been treasured by longtime fans of Pixar. Now with the challenge of having to reintroduce the familiar Toy Story characters to a new generation of audiences, but also keep the best traits around for those who have stuck so closely with two of Pixar’s very first leaps to the screen. With Lee Unkrich (who previously co-directed Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo) now taking over the position of directing from John Lasseter, it’s easy enough to say that a new enough voice has not only managed to reaffirm that the Toy Story films have never lost that touch that made them resonate with audiences back when they came out, but also a sign for what was to come of letting the series grow in our hearts for so long too.
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Although Mike Nichols had already been established as a well-regarded auteur (and not without good reason), his comedy partner Elaine May was robbed of having the same legendary status after her third film. Which is utterly baffling to me, because there’s a particularly unflinching angle in Mikey and Nicky that many crime dramas of the time period had never captured, and it’s also what made this film so terrifying on the inside. But to think that this was the sort of film that Elaine May, whose best-known works have often come by in the comedy genre, makes it even more astounding because it’s clear enough that this film was made with a skilled eye that already would be placing her among many of the all-time greats, had her career really taken off to the degree that it absolutely deserved to. Like many great artists who get their start in the comedy genre, Elaine May sought to branch out even further with Mikey and Nicky but for many more reasons I also consider this to be her best film yet. And to me, there’s nothing more shameful than the fact we never got to see Elaine May create more films of this sort.
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There’s a beauty to hearing the words scripted by Aaron Sorkin, knowing that they always move at a pace that keeps every scene moving at rapid fire, and paired together with the direction of Mike Nichols, the results are truly nothing more than satisfying. For his final film, Mike Nichols leaves on a rather pleasing note and while it may not reach the heights that he has set behind in his past with classics like The Graduate or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, it goes to show that throughout his career, he’s maintained a consistent level of quality from film to film and would never let anything have him stoop down. Continue reading →