Frost/Nixon

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Postby Hustler » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:40 pm

Having seen Frost/Nixon today I´m glad to feel the enormous growth of Ron Howard as a filmaker. It doesn´t seem a Ron Howard film. The screenplay is perfect. The movie itself flows in every aspect. As for Langella´s performance without any doubt the Oscar this year should go to him.

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Postby Damien » Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:17 am

Sabin wrote:Have you ever liked a Ron Howard movie before? Let me rephrase: of the ones you have bothered with, have you liked one before? I think that Frost/Nixon is a lot of fun in the same way that Apollo 13 is. It's completely devoid of subtext but very well crafted and I wish we had twenty of them a year. Best Picture's another story...

Splash is a terrific picture.

Howard reminds me of someone like Delmer Daves or William Keighley or Henry Hathaway or Henry Levin. He's a very competent craftsperson who will never make a major work, and the quality of his films is dependent on the quality of the script.




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Postby Sabin » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:26 am

Have you ever liked a Ron Howard movie before? Let me rephrase: of the ones you have bothered with, have you liked one before? I think that Frost/Nixon is a lot of fun in the same way that Apollo 13 is. It's completely devoid of subtext but very well crafted and I wish we had twenty of them a year. Best Picture's another story...
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Postby Damien » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:19 pm

It's fun. And it's more compelling than the stage play because the close-ups bring a greater sense of immediacy. But like the play, the film is glib, and is about nothing more than what it's about -- David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon. There was no subtext in the play and God knows Ron Howard is not the person to bring out any subtext in the film version. Still, Howard is a very competent craftsperson, and the movie has verve and is highly entertaining. Never approaching anything deep, it's still a highly entertaining show, with Langells's Nixon setting the tone -- not deeply nuanced and multi-layered like Anthony Hopkins (a far inferior actor generally to Langella)'s version, but very human (whiich for Richard Nixon is a major accomplishment) and almost mischievous disgraced individual.

6/10
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:29 am

Could be he's on to something. Howard is definitely alien friendly.

Cocoon was about aliens and his earlier film, Splash was about a mermaid.




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Postby Sabin » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:37 am

Favorite thing I've heard all day:

I just got into a discussion with a friend of mine about the validity of Ron Howard's filmography and he said that his films serve as social hygiene manuals for alien life forms. If you want to blend in as not to be noticed in any form, Ron Howard films are fantastic barometers of where the country is right now.

Frost/Nixon ('08) - the media pithily indicted and championed at the same time. Bush will get his comeuppance...one day...

The Da Vinci Code ('06) - knee-jerk paranoia. As a bevy of documentaries about the Iraq war flood the market, nothing is sacred. Not even Jesus Christ. America has reelected Jesus Christ. Yet who is culpable? Who is to blame? Tom Hanks prays at the end. The film like America has it both ways, and the central "it" is vacuous.

Cinderella Man ('05) - depression on the way and levees about to fall. Disaster abound. But if you do the right thing, you can succeed with honor. Right?!? George W. Bush is reelected and given a chance to do things right.

Missing ('02) - a vengeful, racist hunt against others who want to do us harm.

A Beautiful Mind ('01) - a paranoid invalid unintentionally lashing out at everyone around him and refuses any assistance at coming to his senses, lives a paranoid, invalid life as best he can but is free of culpability.

The Grinch ('00) - a grumpy gus who nobody likes rains on everybody's parade. The Who's just wanna have fun and enjoy their values! An ugly remix of a memory.

EdTV ('99) - burgeoning reality TV. Social commentary for an age where you can get indicted for a blow job.

Ransom ('96) - the conservative jingoism of the conservative '96. The system is out of whack! We're losing everything! GIVE ME BACK MY SON!
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby rolotomasi99 » Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:50 pm

well, i must say i have never liked ron howard as a director. he has made only two good movies in his life, APOLLO 13 and CINDERELLA MAN. A BEAUTIFUL MIND was good, but i dislike it because it won a completely undeserved best picture, director, and screenplay oscar. all of howard's other films fall somewhere on the range of being acceptable and complete wastes of celluloid.

so you can imagine my surprise when i found myself entertained and quite impressed with FROST/NIXON. i still think someone like clooney would have done a better job with the material, but i have to give howard credit for finally trying a different directing style than his usual point-and-shoot technique.

i found both the leads quite impressive. both created very interesting characters within the story. i must say i found langella's nixon voice almost as annoying as christian bale's batman voice, but i still enjoyed the performance. michael sheen continues to impress me, and he did a wonderful job with the less showy part.

i found some really short clips of the actual frost-nixon interviews. they were interesting to watch after just having seen the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U13ngyDqeXs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH8qujkk3rU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2b932QrvxI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETSPBzjCfdE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHv8SYkiwVo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmCkjC-tdao
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBBrfcpSVM4
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:31 am

Wesley Lovell
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Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:14 pm

Pretty good.

The only substantial issue with this movie is Peter Morgan's screenplay which quite frankly does not feel like a compelling narrative. The first interview is gone into with some depth, although when it's casually mentioned that Nixon has rambled through an hour of film time it certainly doesn't feel like it; and the subsequent two interviews are glossed over with a somewhat frustrating savvy. Essentially, the final interview is to be divvied up into the second half of the second act AND the third act but it doesn't really ignite. I almost wish that they had dramatized the third interview more. If Morgan is to be nominated for his screenplay, it would be the most inconsequential nomination since Branaugh was heralded for 'Hamlet'. Ron Howard's DP Salvatore Totino whose work I've never been terribly impressed with does his own operating on 'Frost/Nixon' and the film has a slight over-reliance on hand-held that I believe is a first in a Howard movie. This is perhaps his most creatively shot and edited film; the only drawback is that - how shall I say this? - he doesn't really do P.T. Anderson very well. The real MVP are the editor(s) and Hans Zimmer for building suspense quite admirably. It flows like no Howard film since 'Apollo 13'.

So ultimately, I felt like I was watching a play with some very compelling parts, as well as probably the single biggest laugh I've had all year ("How do you feel as a quaker about the annihilation of an entire people?"). I don't entirely see Langella disappearing into the role of Richard Nixon, whereas Michael Sheen whose role is fairly underwritten is utterly compelling as David Frost. Sheen merged into his role, whereas I always felt I was watching Langella and in a different way than I always felt I was watching Hopkins. 'Nixon' has something to say about the man. 'Frost/Nixon' is utterly devoid of any thematic context to the point that when it approaches some form of parallel between these two men in contrasting Frost's gregarious nature with Nixon's anti-social makeup, it feels woefully undermined by a meat-and-potatoes previous two hours.

And yet because this a Ron Howard movie of a stageplay (UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!) I don't want to give the impression that I didn't like it. Honestly, I had a very good time. I was never for a moment bored, just a little frustrated by its lack of completion. It represents some of Howard's best journeyman filmmaking if not maturation, and perhaps his teaming with Totino is strongest move of his career. 'Cinderella Man' and 'Frost/Nixon' FEEL indicative of his strongest directorial choices. I'm not sure how well this film will do with the Academy or with audiences, but I already anticipate it to be better than at least two nominees.

Everything in the movie is pretty good, including Rebecca Hall who has stolen the mantle from Maggie Gyllenhaal for Hottest Creature on the Planet.
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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:52 pm

Not a movie to which I'd normally rush on opening day, but it fit my needs and circumstances best.

This isn't going to change anyone's view of Ron Howard -- he remains a journeyman with little personality -- but I'd argue it's the right project for him. The script is solid/engrossing in strong-HBO-movie fashion, without being groundbreaking in any way. I can't imagine an auteurist director doing a whole lot more with such material, and there you'd have lamented the waste of dynamic talent on a limited project. With Howard, I felt -- much as with Apollo 13 -- that he was working at his top level and, you know, SOMEONE has to direct these impersonal non-fiction movies, so why not him?

This is material I know pretty much backwards and forwards -- I cut my political teeth on Watergate -- but the backstage intrigue is pretty engaging, and the two central characters command attention. For the first half of the film, Sheen actually rather dominates. Once again he manages to evoke a familiar-in-media figure without seeming to be doing a direct impression. It's his story that sets the film in motion; Nixon is a reactive character until we get to the actual interviews. At that point, of course, Nixon takes over, largely by virtue of simply being Richard Nixon -- the neurotic/grandiose/pathetic/tragic figure who so dominated American politics for a decade. Morgan doesn't unearth anything particularly new in the character -- he creates nothing like the baroque Hopkins Nixon in Stone's film -- but the tried and true material is mostly enough, and, as in The Queen, Morgan takes us through his vignette neatly.

I had two small, history-related problems: First, this media event, while notable, wasn't exactly the epochal event the filmmakers appear to imagine it. I watched some of the interviews in '77, and remember the key sound bites, but I don't recall it being any high point of my week, let alone in the history of western civilization. This apotheosis of it strikes me a bit like the way Howard raised the fights in Cinderella Man to major, Depression-defining moments -- it was all a bit out of scale.

My second problem is with Morgan, and his characterization of Frost. He presents him initially as a lightweight, even suggesting he blew off the interview until he thought it was going badly -- at which point he suddenly became devoted to the work and redeemed himself. (This moment in the film comes perilously close to the drunken lawyer throwing away his bottles and buckling down to win the case cliche) In reality, Frost was no Merv Griffin. His talk show in the early 70s won awards because he did probing, excellent, lengthy interviews -- more Charlie Rose/Dick Cavett than what the film suggests. I know this distortion was for "dramatic effect", but it annoys me when that happens in movies.

As for the performances: They're both very good, and there's no honest way to put either into supporting. Langella is going to dominate prize-consideration because, as I said, he simply has the more compelling character to play, but it'll be a shame if Sheen is completely overlooked. He's very good, and holds his own in every scene. I also liked Langella's work just fine, and consider him a clear candidate for best actor...but I can't say there was any over-the-moon moment that would make me cheer his win. The moment that might do it for him with most (the late night phone call) is one I resisted because I simply don't believe Richard Nixon was capable of the kind of introspection the scene provided. I do, though, like his near-confession moments in the closing scenes. And he captures very well throughout the social ineptness bordering on hostility that was Nixon's hallmark.

Bottom line: a surprinsingly decent film, one I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see as a best picture nominee.

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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:04 pm

Lisa Schwarzbaum reviews 'Frost/Nixon' and 'Doubt', likes 'F/N' a LOT more.

Frost/Nixon is a fact-based drama, starring Michael Sheen and Frank 
 Langella, about a mid-1970s confrontation between a wily British TV host and a 
 disgraced American president. Doubt is a fictional drama, starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, about a mid-1960s confrontation between an imperious Bronx nun in charge of a parochial school and a liberal priest she is convinced has behaved improperly with a student. The two might seem to have nothing in common, save that both previously enjoyed award-laden Broadway runs, and both are currently receiving Prestige Movie treatment.

But the pair, taken together, constitute a rewarding study in the opportunities and pitfalls of adaptation. Frost/Nixon, directed with practiced fluidity by Ron Howard, surges with an energy and visual verve that improve the play and enhance the themes of dramatist Peter Morgan's script — about the codependency of media and politics, and about the vanities of ambitious men shaping public images. Doubt, fussily overdirected by its author, John Patrick Shanley, dulls the play's own sharp inquiries into the dangerous power of those who profess certainty with God on their side.

Frost/Nixon trusts Sheen and Langella to re-create the roles they first originated to such acclaim in London in 2006, then moved to Broadway in 2007. Certainly the two stars know their characters inside and out: There's David Frost, the striving TV-age smoothie who savored his jet-set lifestyle but craved journalistic legitimacy; and there's Richard M. Nixon, the infinitely complicated politician forced to resign in the wake of Watergate, who craved — well, obviously, he craved something, since he agreed (for a handsome fee) to sit with Frost through 12 days of taped interrogation. With the transcript as his guide, Morgan explores psychological terrain: how Frost found the chutzpah to land the interviews; how Nixon played cat and mouse with his interlocutor when asked to admit wrongdoing and apologize; how both men of humble beginnings felt stung by the scorn of those born with more 
privilege; and how both were superb manipulators. But Sheen (who played the very model of a modern British go-getter as Tony Blair in The Queen, also written by Morgan) and Langella (operating at the peak of his powers) are disciplined enough to crop their performances to close-up size. (The sizing echoes the look of the 
 actual interviews.) And Howard is smart 
 to enhance the one-on-ones with journalistic context, weaving archival Watergate-era 
 footage into his fictionalized re-creation.

Streep and Hoffman, in contrast, translate roles memorably created by Cherry Jones and Brían F. O'Byrne as Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn. Without a doubt, the movie stars are primo ''gets'' in the famous-name sweepstakes. (They're aided by Viola 
 Davis in a blazing, brief appearance as the mother of the boy who may or may not have received the priest's inappropriate attentions, and by Amy Adams in the wan role of a susceptible younger nun who becomes the agent of Sister Aloysius' terrible righteousness.) But Hoffman and Streep, especially, are also vulnerable actors in need of guidance from a director with a strong vision. And Shanley, in his first movie-helming gig since he leaped into his own script for Joe Versus the Volcano nearly two decades ago and lost, turns out to have dismayingly few original cinematic notions to back up the basic did-he-or-didn't-he hook in his study of conviction and compassion. There's not a wind-whipped leaf, rain-hammered window, or burned-out lightbulb the director doesn't admire, lest we ignore a metaphor about spiritual crisis.

Meanwhile, Streep, apparently left to her own devices, lugs a load of mannerisms under the pruny nun's severe black habit, encouraged by the movie's literal-minded director. Sister A may be an intimidating, spirit-breaking character — but for all that, she's also 
 a servant of God unswerving in her code of right and wrong, and we ought to feel her burden. We don't. Speaking lines written to reach the stage heavens, the cast is infernally noisy and hectoring about mysteries that ought 
 to be felt with a communal hush. I doubt that's what the creator — I mean the playwright — had in mind. Doubt: C+; Frost/Nixon: A-
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Postby Jim20 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:08 am

Having already seen the film, the interviews are more suspenseful than the actual film. Langella's fine, but not masterful.

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Postby Damien » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:28 am

I don't know about the movie -- although considering it's Morgan again plus Ron Howard, so I doubt things have changed -- there was no subtext to the play. It wasn't about anything else other than Nixon doing the Frost interviews. I would imagine the actual interviews would be more compelling.
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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:18 am

The movie juxtaposes the actual interviews in order to build maximum suspense. The Watergate confession actually came in the second or third of the four interviews. It's the last interview in the play/film.

As a student of history you probably want to see both, the actual interviews to see what actually happened and the movie to see whether or not they distorted anything other than the juxtapositon of the interviews.
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Postby Penelope » Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:31 pm

It appears to me that it's in line with Morgan's previous scripts, The Last King of Scotland and The Queen, taking actual events and then adding a speculative plot. In this case, using the interview for an examination of how it came about and the motivations of the individuals involved. Personally, I'd rather read a history or biography and then watch the actual interview.
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