Posts Tagged ‘frost

26
Jan
09

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

10290A_UNI_FNX_DOM1sh_Spread_R4The movie based on the Broadway play based on the TV interviews.

 

Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, and Oliver Platt. Directed by Ron Howard. Screenplay and play by Peter Morgan.

 

Nota bene: this review is based on the movie. I have not seen the original Broadway play, nor was I alive when this occurred on television.

 

With all that said, I enjoyed this movie.

 

The film takes place in two time periods: the days surrounding the Frost interviews of Nixon and some point in the “future” (sometime in the Eighties). The very beginning shows clips of footage from original news reports of when Nixon resigned from the Oval Office, as well as showing Gerald Ford pardoning Nixon for any transgressions. The American public was outraged and wanted a conviction; wanted Nixon to ‘fess up to allegations of wrongdoing.

 

Fast forward into the future of those involved with the interviews that took place. The characters reflect back upon what happened, how almost impossible it was, etc. But what did happen?

 

Flash back to the Seventies and as I said before, President Richard Nixon (Langella) resigns from office before he could be brought up by a Congressional committee to find out the truth behind Watergate. He has a stroke and lays in a hospital bed while Ford pardons him, which then puts him out of reach from any lawmaker or investigator.

 

Cut to Australia where British-born talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) has an idea: get an interview with ex-President Nixon. Frost is the definition of the “Swingin’ Sixties”: women, parties, celebrities, and personal jet planes. He had a show in the U.S. but it was canceled. Moving on to Britain he finally settled in Australia. When he proposes the idea to his producer, the producer has the kind of reaction we would have if in the same situation: why would an entertainment interviewer/performer want to interview Richard Nixon? What would he have to gain? How much would he have to lose?

 

Enter Swifty Lazar (Jones), media rep for Nixon. Swifty has already made book deals and a ’60 Minutes’ interview with Mike Wallace for Nixon. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Swifty is out for the money and coerces Nixon into accepting the interview and extorts $600k out of Frost for it. A meeting is setup with Frost, his producer, and female companion Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall). Everything goes well and the TV show is off and running.

 

Unfortunately he hits roadblocks. No American network wants to show an interview with the ex-Prez and a British talk show host and not have any control over it. He cuts deal after deal before finally getting one in which he pays everything up front. This puts him in debt with his friends.

 

To make matters worse people think that Frost is a “puff-piece” pushover. To solve this Frost hires Bob Zelnick (Platt) and author James Reston, Jr. (Rockwell). Reston pushes for Frost to take Nixon to the mat, pleading for him to give Nixon “the trial he never had.”

 

What follows is one of the best “chessmatch” films. Like Frederic March and Burt Lancaster in “Seven Days in May,” or Deniro and Pacino in “Heat,” we are given a bonafide “David v. Goliath” fight. Nixon is calm, cool, and collected, knowing Frost’s background and having a personal spin team and military officer Jack Brennan. He has nothing to prove but why he did what he did and doesn’t have to answer to anyone, much less an “easy going” journalist who is paying for the interview. Frost has everything to prove, not the least of which is the fact that he has to come up with actual hard-hitting questions if he wants to be taken seriously.

 

And therein lies the core of the movie: two guys sitting across from each other in a rented house verbally sparring until there can be only one victor. There are minor victories and setbacks and times when either could win. And in the end one walks away victorious while the other slumps into disgrace.

 

Ron Howard did an excellent job adapting from the original Broadway play, but he also hired the original actors from the Broadway play as well as the playwright. And all involved do a great job. The person to surprise me most was Sam Rockwell, who fit his character better than any other I’ve seen him play. From this movie alone he may get more offers.

 

The overall feeling from this film is light-hearted, somewhat like of “Charlie Wilson’s War.” There are a few somber moments, a good bit of humor, and the editing keeps it interesting. And I swear that for 5 minutes Langella WAS Nixon, if not channeling him from beyond.

 

My grade: A

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28
Nov
08

December Movie Releases

untitled

 

 

“Cadillac Records” – Biopic on the record company that gave starts to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and others. Stars Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, and Beyonce Knowles. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Frost/Nixon” – Based on the real life events of British talk show host David Frost interviewing ex-president Richard Nixon after his impeachment. Stars Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, and Oliver Platt. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Punisher: War Zone” – Ray Stevenson plays the Marvel character who, this time, is taking on a New York underworld boss it wants to control it all. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Che” – Part One of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part saga on revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera. Stars Benicio del Toro. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” – Keanu “Whoah” Reeves stars in this remake about an alien who comes to Earth to deliver a message: live in peace or be destroyed. No word on if he’s bringing the cure for cancer or not… Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Delgo” – CG animated epic about a teenage creature struggling to unite two warring nations. Contains the voices of Val Kilmer, Eric Idle, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Milk” – Directed by Gus van Sant, this is the biopic on San Fran’s first homosexual mayor, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn). Also stars Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and James Franco. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Nothing Like the Holidays” – The Rodriguez family is converging on Chicago for Christmas. Stars John Leguizamo and Alfred Molina. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“While She Was Out” – Kim Basinger is an abused housewife who gets out of the house and goes to the mall, only to run into murderous thugs. Eventually, she finds herself in the woods with only her wits and a toolbox. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood plays a man in his seventies (who knew?) who saves the life of his Asian neighbor’s son, much against his prejudice. He ends up in a war against the gang that assaulted the son. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Wrestler” – Mickey Rourke stars as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a burnt-out 80’s wrestler who has one last shot of glory: taking on his arch-nemesis “The Ayatollah.” Thing is, this could cost him his life. Also stars Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Brothers Bloom” – Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are brothers pulling a con job on a wealthy woman (Rachel Weisz). Also stars Robbie Coltrane. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Brad Pitt is the title character: a man who was born looking ancient and regresses in outward age as he progresses with his inward age. Complications arise when he falls in love with Cate Blanchett. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Seven Pounds” – Will Smith stars as a guy about to commit suicide who falls in love with a woman. Also, he tries changing the lives of seven people for the good. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Tale of Despereaux” – CG animated tale of a mouse whose ears (and ambitions) are far too big for his Mouseworld. He becomes an outcast and his journey leads him to a Princess named Pea, whom he must rescue. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Yes Man” – Jim Carrey finds that “yes” is the new “no” and that saying it can be liberating. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks… Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Bedtime Stories” – Adam Sandler watches his sister’s (Courtney Cox) kids. When he reads them bedtime stories, elements of the stories bleed into reality with hilarious results. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Marley and Me” – Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston adopt a Labrador puppy. Comedy hijinks supposedly ensue. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“The Spirit” – Frank Miller takes the director’s chair and brings “The Spirit” to the screen. Gabriel Macht plays the titular character: a cop who fakes his own death to fight crime. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, and Jaime King. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Revolutionary Road” – Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet team up again, this time going forward a few years to the 1950’s, playing a couple dealing with personal problems while living in their Connecticut suburb. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Valkyrie” – Tom Cruise heads up a cast of people trying to depose Hitler in Word War II. Based on a true story, and they’re stickin’ to it. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Defiance” – Daniel Craig is one of four brothers saving Jews by taking them into the forest and setting up their own village with the help of Russian resistance fighters. Based on a true story. Opens December 31, 2008