Frost/Nixon (Movie Review)

Frost/Nixon

There is a sort of apprehension that comes with purchasing a ticket for a film based on true events in that you more or less already know most of the plot points and the ending. A certain "what's the point?" attitude tends to permeate your consciousness just as you're about to enter your pin number, and this largely resides in the fact that many go to theatres for sensory and not intellectual entertainment. When you're teetering on the edge of being a twenty something, a film just doesn't seem worth it unless there are a few murders or copious amounts of bare breasts. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I learned a little something about filmmaking in general tonight because it's a principle I've discovered long ago, but often choose to ignore when I sacrifice the highbrow for the low.

Frost/Nixon is film that chronicles the efforts of David Frost as he pursues an interview with the infamous President "Tricky Dick" Nixon. Specifically, Frost/Nixon deals with time frame of January to April 1977, immediately before and during the intimate televised recordings that dealt with his presidency, policy, and Watergate. There's also the prerequisite "life before/life after" scenes in order to establish a context, so really there is not all that much new in the construction of the film. Very linear, very straight forward, and largely by the numbers.

Don't devalue the project because I've simplified the process most films of the genre go through. It sounds like an easy film to make on paper since there is no high octane action sequences or spiralling deutsche cinematography to wrap your head around. At the risk of sounding a smidgeon too bright-eyed, compelling narratives are far more difficult to create with deft pacing and cutting skill than setting off fireworks every fourteen seconds. I have far more appreciation for the director who knows exactly how long and how evenly scenes and cuts need to be spaced in order to sculpt a tight picture. This is something ambitious directors of big budget films more interested in exciting explosions than effective exposition need to learn.

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There are actually times when Frost seems to channel the spirit of Austin Powers, if you can believe that.

As far as acting is concerned, Frank Langella as Nixon himself gives one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen. It's just a few hairs shy of Mickey Rourke's turn in "The Wrestler," but the difference is split due to the material and style of their respective films. Langella carries the film on tone and expression alone, which is why it's so remarkable. Michael Sheen does an admirable job as David Frost, but the success of his character lies in exceptionally strong characterization and not necessarily any unique touches. Sheen is good, but he lets Langella steal every scene towards the end of the film, to the point where he almost becomes a vehicle for his rival's success (actually rather ironic when you consider the ending).

The script is a strong, but suffers from a few minor incongruities. I anticipated a film about two fierce and intelligent figures, masters of the art of discourse, locked in a battle for public reputation. This is almost exactly the case, except David Frost is not a fierce journalist vying for a lucrative interview and the prestige that comes with success. He's a playboy talk show host who loves women and parties, and doesn't care all that much for politics. This certainly makes for compelling drama because the conflict is totally dissimilar from what's expected, but a final musing towards the end raises a question of continuity that comes dangerously close to undermining the theme of the film.

Never trick yourself into believing that visual flash is the only thing that creates engaging cinema. The film runs for two hours, but you'd never believe it. Frost/Nixon is the precise example of the type of tight and efficient filmmaking there needs to be more of.

Another excellent, enjoyable review. Your insight of the realm of Film is admirable, and it's a testament to your reviewing skill that you have made me want to see this movie (where before I really couldn't care less about it). Good job.

ThaBenMan:
Another excellent, enjoyable review. Your insight of the realm of Film is admirable, and it's a testament to your reviewing skill that you have made me want to see this movie (where before I really couldn't care less about it). Good job.

Heh... thanks for the compliment. It's nice to see my opinion carries persuasive force. ;D

It really is a great that many will probably overlook because it seems fairly textbook.

As usual, an excellent review. Not surprising at all given the source material(a well received play) and Ron Howard's talents. Apollo 13 is similar real life, one event, narrative and is excellent. I prefer this type of real event narrative over the more common biopic that Hollywood loves. I'll probably post again if after seeing this film and end up disagreeing with the review but it seems unlikely I will.

Frost/Nixon was such a great movie. I loved every minute of it. The time I was in the theater just flew by like it was non existant...

 

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