Absorbing and engrossing
Michael K. Beusch | San Mateo, California United States | 11/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Anthony Hopkins was cast as Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone's bio of the 37th President, many were leery of the casting choice. I myself pictured Hopkins doing a combination of Nixon and Hannibal Lecter: "I'm not a crook -- and if anyone thinks so, I'll eat their liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti .... SLURP!!" However, Hopkins does do a marvelous job and disappears into the role without becoming a standup comedian's caricature. Even though Nixon does and says vile things throughout the film, the audience still has sympathy for the character -- even those like me who found the real Richard Nixon dispicable.
Stone portrays Nixon as a tragic figure who had the intelligence and the electoral mandate to elevate himself and his administration to greatness, but let it all slip away by becoming bogged down in the quagmire of Watergate. Nixon complains incessantly about how the Kennedys are everything he is not. However, it becomes clear that his hatred of the Kennedys is based as much on his loathing of himself as on any real scorn shown him by the "Eastern establishment."
Stone, as in JFK, takes certain liberties with Nixon's story and acknowledges as much in a disclaimer before the story begins. Even those who believe President Kennedy was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, for example, would find it hard to believe that Richard Nixon was involved, even tacitly, in the plot to kill JFK. Stone also takes liberties with his portrayal of Richard and Pat Nixon's marital relationship. Even though some incidents are no doubt true, it's pretty clear that some scenes between the two are conjecture on Stone's part.
However, these are minor quibbles. Nixon is a penetrating, engrossing biography that both portrays him as a ruthless, vicous, paranoic lunatic and a character who elicits sympathy from the audience. The supporting cast is amazing and includes James Woods, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Harris, David Hyde Pierce, Annabeth Gish, Kevin Dunn, J.T. Walsh, Powers Booth, Paul Sorvino, Edward Herrmann, Larry Hagman, Dan Hedeya, Tony LoBianco, Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Paymer, Tony Goldwyn, Fuyvush Finkel and Saul Rubinek. However, the standout supporting player is Joan Allen as Pat Nixon who is a dead ringer for the former First Lady. Allen's portrayal shows the emotional pain Mrs. Nixon endured behind the seemingly placid facade she presented to the American public. Coupled with Hopkins' Nixon, it's an acting tour de force that carries the film.
After all the vile things he does during the course of the film, Nixon, the night before his resignation, is reduced to staring at a portrait of his idolized archenemy John F. Kennedy and proclaiming that "... when they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are." Even the most die-hard member of Nixon's enemies' list can't help but feel pity for Richard Nixon during this scene. It's a great achievement by Oliver Stone to make this bitter, corrupt and wretched man worthy of the audience's sympathy at the same time we disdain him."
"This is god-damned Disneyland...."
Michael K. Beusch | 12/26/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Oliver Stone's fascinating insight into the Nixon administration is not for everyone's delight. The closest thing to a "JFK" sequal, 'Nixon' rolls all the players into a ball of naughtiness & takes it from there. Hard to keep up with if un-familiar with the facts surrounding the 'watergate-scandal', but if you know your homework it's alot of fun. Superb casting,I must say, Stone started this epic right after "Natural Born Killers" so it has all the internal flare of film-making. Immense enjoyment on DVD, this film IS very under-rated,losing 'Best Picture' oscar to Mel Gibson's "Braveheart"... you can see how not everybody wants this film around in the long-run. Thumbs up!"
Grand film with all the right stuff
Brandon T. | 07/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As you may well guess, not many fifteen year olds would enjoy such a film as NIXON. However, at 15, I thoroughly enjoyed and had a complete grasp of the events portrayed in this great film. Oliver Stone has a grand combination of things I love: Anthony Hopkins, politics, and history. This was my reason for loving this film. Many of you may not be as enthused by politics and history as I. Even so, you owe it to the memory of this highly misunderstood leader to see the truth of what actually happened during Watergate and during his tenure as president. NIXON has an all star cast which makes it even better to make the three hours go by more interestingly. It includes Anthony Hopkins (of Hannibal Lecter fame), Joan Allen, E.G. Marshall, and Paul Sorvino as a surprisingly convincing Henry Kissinger. Stone also masterfully uses archive footage to make real people like JFK, LBJ, Truman, Spiro Agnew, and Gerry Ford appear in the film. The film jumps around a bit, but it chronicles Nixon's childhood, his bids for the presidency, the Watergate scandal, and his life after the presidency. This truly is a masterful film, and these things only make it better. NIXON is not a film for everyone. It is a great film, but the subject matter may not be to everyone's liking. My suggestion is that one rent NIXON first, see if you enjoy it, then if you do: purchase it. Whatever your decision, see this great film called NIXON."
The American equivalent of a Greek tragedy
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 08/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What infuriates all those apologists and fanatical supporters of Richard Nixon out there is that Oliver Stone supposedly has an axe to grind about their man by making a film like NIXON. They assumed a lot, but didn't even bother to see the film.The truth is that NIXON is much more even-handed in its portrayal of the 37th President of the United States than I thought it could be. Anthony Hopkins gives a reasonably fair portrayal of Nixon, and Joan Allen is tremendous as his wife Pat. Although Stone's penchant for conspiracy does get the better of him at times, he sees Nixon as more a tragic victim than as an evil power-monger, a vision that is closer to the truth than what Nixon's enemies made him out to be in reality.Stone wisely does not gloss over the simple facts about the man. Nixon was indisputably a great and cagey anticommunist politician who managed to split the Sino-Soviet communist alliance in two and thus promote stability in the Cold War world for years to come. But he left a lot to be desired as a human being, being paranoid, distrustful, deceitful, and, in the end, blatantly dishonest. In that sense, the saga of Richard Nixon ranks as the American equivalent of a Greek tragedy: so much explosive potential destroyed by scandal.As in JFK, Stone has assembled a massive cast of people: Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, J.T. Walsh, and James Woods, just to name a few. Despite its few faults, NIXON is a fair portrait of perhaps the most frustrating and complicated man ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."