Last week Mike Nichols’s latest film, Closer, opened in the States. While anxious studio executives read the reviews and waited for the box-office results, Nichols had other things on his mind. The 73-year-old filmmaker, stage director, actor, writer and one-time comedian was busy putting the finishing touches to Spamalot, the Broadway musical based on Monty Python and The Holy Grail . Despite a glamorous cast including Jude Law and Julia Roberts, Closer, released here in January, is not a conventional romantic comedy. Based on Patrick Marber’s acclaimed West End play, it is an unrelenting look at two couples who fall in and out of love with each other, with bruising consequences. Although the sex takes place off screen, the language is explicit and earned the film a restrictive R rating. Closer is a controversial film in light of the cultural climate in America, a year in which Janet Jackson’s Superbowl flash led to moral outrage and a debate in Congress, while issues of censorship and decency helped President Bush win a second term. Closer, one imagines, will not be a long-running feature in many ‘red states’. Nichols is used to the controversy and, in recent years, the mixed reviews that… Read full this story

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