Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frost/Nixon

Ron Howard, 2008 (7.6*)
Reliable director Ron Howard tackles the anti-climax to this pivotal point in American history, as Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign, forced to by impending impeachment by Congress for his part in the authorization and cover-up of crimes that flowed like a river after the Watergate break-in, not just that incident but a whole litany of other civil rights abuses as well. After his pardon by President-apointee Gerald Ford, the entire nation felt robbed of a criminal trial or an admission of guilt and an apology from Nixon.

Australian entertainer and talk-show host David Frost seized an opportunity to outbid other networks with Nixon’s agent for the rigtht to inverview him "live, on tape". Nixon was a Hollywood-style individual with a penchant for the big-time for the big fee, so a lot of the movie is about the financial wranglings made in order to set up the interviews, then we see a re-enactment of the actual interviews, conducted in a mundane, middle-class Republican businessman’s house.

Perhaps it’s the locale, or the staleness of this as a news event as many of us saw this when it happened in reality, but this film lacks the punch and intensity of other Howard docudramas like Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, and A Beautiful Mind. Frank Langella is brilliant as Nixon, deserved the Oscar for capturing his demeanor and style without actually imitating him. Michael Sheen (The Queen) is barely adequate as Frost, giving the character no personality whatsoever, which may have been accurate but hardly dramatic. Down a star for the overall lack of intensity as Nixon is treated more like a kindly, aging grandad, though a vital part of history that should be witnessed as a serving President circumvented the U.S. Constitution at every opportunity. Screenplay author Peter Jordan (an Oscar®-winner for The Queen), but for Howard, a competent but not outstanding volume in his overall filmography.

1 comments:

Marcia Bell, MPA:HA May 15, 2009 at 9:03 AM  

I didn't see this film. I remember when all this was going down. And I felt that Michael Sheen playing David Frost had absolutely no resemblance to him. Frank Langella seems just too kind to play Nixon who had his good side, but also a pretty bad side. Your review pretty much sums it up to me. Rather see a good doc with reenactments.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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