Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Matthew MacFadyen
Director: Ron Howard
From Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard comes the electrifying, untold story behind one of the most unforgettable moments in history. When disgraced President Richard Nixon agreed to an interview with jet-setting t... more »
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Near Perfect Filmmaking
Chris Luallen | Nashville, Tennessee | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the Watergate scandal and his subsequent resignation, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) is living in relative seclusion back in California. But, following a lucrative interview offer from British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), Nixon sees an opportunity not only to make some easy money but to return himself to the public spotlight. Meanwhile Frost, best known for chatting with celebrity lightweights, views this as a chance to gain fame and respectability as a journalist in America.
Frost is encouraged by his research aides to go hard after Nixon. But instead Frost throws softballs for the first three interview segments and is easily overwhelmed by his more experienced adversary. Then, on the night before the final interview, Frost receives a strange phone call from Nixon, who basically goes off on a drunken rant. Frost, smelling blood, decides to take a more aggressive approach and on the final day Nixon ends up making humiliating admissions about his role in the Watergate cover-up, perhaps cementing his tarnished legacy in American politics.
How much you enjoy this movie will probably depend on how much interest you have in the subject matter. But there is no doubt that this is one of those rare motion pictures that reaches near perfection in terms of filmmaking. The acting, especially by Langella, is superb and the sense of dramatic timing is impeccable. The small details were also well handled, such as film's spot on depiction of the 70's and Nixon's bizarre fascination with Frost's Italian leather shoes. This is probably the best directorial outing in Ron Howard's career. Highly recommended."
"I shall be your fiercest adversary/I shall come at you with
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 04/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Frost/Nixon is a riveting historical drama, based on the play by Peter Morgan. Morgan wrote the movie's screenplay, as well as screenplays for "The Queen," and "The Last King of Scotland." The controversial 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews are dramatized here, and Frank Langella's superb performance as the disgraced former president, Richard M. Nixon, is worth the price of a movie rental alone.
Richard Nixon resigned from the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, rather than face impeachment by Congress for his role in the Watergate scandal, and subsequent events. He was the only US president ever to do so. The film shows real footage of the Nixon family, leaving the White House and boarding a helicopter - the first step in a journey which will take Mr. Nixon into exile.
David Frost, (Michael Sheen), a British celebrity talk show host, watches this event on television and decides that an interview with Nixon would be just the thing to relaunch his waning career. He pursues the project for some time and winds up financing it out of his own pocket, while searching desperately for backers. Creepy literary agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar, (Toby Jones), negotiates the deal. Nixon agrees to do more than 20 hours of on-camera interviews with Frost, and will receive $1 million or more in fees and profits for the sessions. He is in serious debt. He has huge legal bills and back taxes to pay and needs the money. Under the terms of the contract, Nixon will have no control over content of questions or editing, and will not see any of the questions in advance. Of course, he can always refuse to answer questions, but he will have to do so in front of a huge audience.
Frost is a most incongruous choice for interviewer, as he has no journalistic experience and is known for being an entertainer and playboy. Yet he manages to upstage major TV networks with their top-notch interviewers, like Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, and David Brinkley, and get the gig. Nixon, after almost three years of silence, out of the public eye at his home in California, looks to the series of interviews as an opportunity to vindicate himself and resurrect his very tarnished image. He believes that Frost, a lightweight, will not ask the tough questions, and allow him to forward his own version of his time in office and Watergate.
Frost brings British John Birt, (Matthew Macfadyen), with him to California, to direct the production. They hire radical researcher James Reston, Jr., (Sam Rockwell), who wants Frost to play hardball and try Nixon in the public eye. TV producer Bob Zelnick, (Oliver Platt), signs onto the project also. Caroline Cushing, (Rebecca Hall), Frost's gorgeous girlfriend, accompanies the team. Nixon takes note of her beauty on several occasions. He rattles Frost, before the beginning of one session, by asking if "he had done any fornicating" the night before. I have never known anyone else who is capable of using such terrible language, frequently, and remain in a formal stance while doing so. However you look at him, RMN is a very formal man...he never looks relaxed - in real life or as played by Mr. Langella.
Nixon has his own team. US Marine officer Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon), a Vietnam veteran, is Nixon's most loyal fan, and Diane Sawyer, (Kate Jennings Grant), is a consultant and assistant. Nixon tells Frost at the get-go, "I shall be your fiercest adversary. I shall come at you with everything I've got. Because the limelight can only shine on one of us."
Ultimately, forty-four million viewers turned-out to watch Richard Nixon go head-to-head with David Frost, about a third of the U.S. viewing public at the time. Director Ron Howard brings the tension and drama of this event to the screen...and then some. He focuses more on the psychological aspects of the characters rather than on the politics involved - to great effect. Howard explores each man's insecurities and the enormity of their egos. He really captures the intensity of the interview sessions, including shots of Nixon mopping perspiration from his upper lip with a handkerchief.
I was somewhat disturbed by one scene, a contrived midnight telephone call that Nixon, who had been drinking, makes to Frost. As so much of this film is accurate, or mostly accurate, the insert of a purely fictional event, is powerful but misleading. Mr. Howard took dramatic license too far in this instance.
Again, Mr. Langella's portrayal of Richard Nixon is stellar. Two monologues, in particular, stand out as exceptional. The final interview scenes, with close-ups of Mr. Nixon's/Langella's face, of his thoughtful, almost poignant expressions are phenomenal as he admits that he, "let the American people down."
This is a film which brings much depth to the event which it portrays, and to the characters involved. As a baby boomer, who clearly remembers Watergate, and the events surrounding it, I was riveted to the screen. Highly recommended.
Incisive Look Into Frost/Nixon Interviews
Jym Cherry | Wheaton, IL United States | 04/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon focuses on the period after Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency, and leading up to the Frost Nixon interview. The movie starts off with the world's and Frost's fascination with Nixon's resignation and the lengths he went to secure Nixon as an interview subject. Frost bet not only his career on the interviews but his life as well. He put all his assets on the line, and borrowed from all his friends to pay the $600,000 Nixon (and his agents) asked for.
Part of Frosts preparation for the interviews was to hire researchers for background on Nixon and to formulate the questions asked during the interviews. The researchers, played by Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell add not only some comic relief, but provide a behind the scenes look at the pressure they were under and exerted on Frost to, not just interview Nixon but to push him and ask the hard questions, to at least try for some accountability from Nixon, which of course resulted in Nixon blurting out that if the President does something it makes it legal.
From Nixon's point of view we're shown his isolation, even when he's surrounded by aides, family, friends and supporters. We're also given a window into Nixon's insecurities with a drunken phone call to Frost, and Nixon rails on about the injustices and perceived slights he suffered throughout his life at the hands of others. Nixon also tried to get the psychological edge on Frost by asking off-kilter questions right before taping would begin, such as asking Frost if he had fornicated the night before, which was a famously well known anecdote at the time.
When I first saw the previews of Frost/Nixon I cringed when I saw Frank Langella as Nixon because it looked like a caricature. But that was before seeing the movie. Langella merges so successfully with Nixon that you cease to think of him doing a character but of personifying Nixon.
Ron Howard isn't a flashy director, he uses special effects only when necessary to the plot, and he isn't given to using the usual directors devices to add false emotion to a scene, instead he trusts the story, he trusts that the drama of the situations to carry the viewer interest, to provide them with an emotionally satisfying experience. Howard is one of the best directors working today, he consistently gets solid performances from his actors. The subject matter he chooses to direct is diverse and compelling. All of which is a far cry from his directorial debut of Eat My Dust.
The bonus features include, deleted scenes, a making of featurette, there's a short documentary look at the actual interviews as compared to the dramatized interviews, and there's a featurette that's bit of a propaganda for the Nixon library. I usually don't like the commentaries feature on movies, I usually find the insights not all that insightful but Ron Howard's commentary on this is interesting and adds to the viewing of the movie."
Ron Howard's Creative License Should Be Suspended
Jerry P. Danzig | New York, NY USA | 07/13/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm afraid I must take exception to director Ron Howard's assertion in his commentary on this DVD that creative license is a good thing when telling a story based on real-life events.
In my opinion, he and the playwright/screenwriter have taken too many creative liberties and muddied the waters here in a way that will raise doubts about the truth and consequences of the actual Frost/Nixon interviews as well as the true character of each man.
For example, in real life, Nixon did NOT call Frost after-hours in his hotel, rambling on in his cups about the way both men rose from humble origins and fought an uphill battle against their social superiors.
This is an important falsehood, because in the movie, Frost attempts to psyche out Nixon before the final Watergate interview by alluding to this phone call. Well, this phone call NEVER happened!
Similarly, as Frost questions Nixon about his illegal incursions into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, the movie shows both men responding to footage of the ensuing carnage. Apparently, the real F/N interview did NOT resort to this ungainly sort of "gotcha" journalism. Again, this is an unfortunate distortion that actually makes the movie viewer feel more sympathy for Nixon, which in reality is unwarranted.
The producers of this DVD could have remedied this confusion by including a second disc containing the entire actual F/N Watergate interview rather than a brief bonus feature with video excerpts from the interview.
Otherwise Frank Langella is superb as Nixon, but I felt that Michael Sheen overplayed his role as Frost. I suspect that Sheen failed to modulate his stage performance for the screen, which could also be Howard's failing, despite his stated ambition to be an "actor's director".
In the final analysis, the movie may serve a useful purpose if it stirs the American public to demand further explanation of the crimes against humanity and the Constitution perpetrated under the Bush regime.
But I fear that it does history no favors."