Frost/Nixon

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Zahveed
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Postby Zahveed » Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:20 pm

anonymous wrote:The David Frost interviews with Richard Nixon have just been released on DVD.

What is the point of watching this movie when I can watch the real thing anyway?

The movie itself is fiction based on nonfictional events. The whole thing isn't a film version of the interview.
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:41 pm

Because Frank Langella is masterful. That's the reason to see it.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:19 pm

The David Frost interviews with Richard Nixon have just been released on DVD.

What is the point of watching this movie when I can watch the real thing anyway?

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Postby Damien » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:28 pm

Peter Morgan is a fucking moron. This would be like some screenwriter in the 1950s turning down the chance to work with Nicholas Ray in gavor of Delbert Mann.

And he adds to his idiocy by saying the reason he may regret the choice was not that Clooney would have made an eminently more interesting and potent film, but that his wife didn't egt to stay at Clooney's villa.

Ron Goward fucking voted for Nixon in '72.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:25 pm

as if i did not need any more reason to pre-emptively dislike this movie, now i found out george clooney was passed over as director for ron howard. not only would it have potentially made the film much better (since clooney has proven he can handle talky political films, while howard has not), but also we would have probably been spared shit like LEATHERHEADS!


Clooney Snubbed Over Frost/Nixon

George Clooney was desperate to direct new political movie Frost/Nixon - but was snubbed in favour of filmmaker Ron Howard.

British writer, Peter Morgan, who penned the play on which the movie is based, has revealed that Clooney approached him and asked to be given the director's role.

But Morgan turned him down, giving the job instead to Howard, whose credits include Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.

And Morgan admits he may end up regretting his decision.

He says, "(Clooney) said things like, 'We are really going to kick a** with this!'

"Not going with him was a complete f**king agony because he suggested doing some script work at his house by Lake Como - at which point my wife was just shaking her head.

"I expect I will spend the rest of my life making amends to him - and my wife - and to everybody about my decision. Now I will never have him ringing me again, asking to do my work."
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:05 am

Sabin wrote:'Frost/Nixon' looks Boring/Asfuck.

i see what you did there and i like it. :;):
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Postby Damien » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:36 pm

Frost/Nixon as a film was probably doomed as soon as Ron Howard became attached to it, much like the movie version of Rent didn't have a chance once Chris Columbus was signed. Richard Nixon is simply too complex a character for aw shucks nice guy Howard to get his arms around.
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Postby Sabin » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:03 pm

'Frost/Nixon' looks Boring/Asfuck.



Edited By Sabin on 1224194603
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:20 pm

"choppy" seems to be a recurring theme among the reviews i have seen regarding howard's handling of the story. langella's performance seems to be the overwhelming reason to see this movie. i am surprised sheen is being brushed aside by reviewers, but maybe it is the nature of the role -- taking a back seat to both the character of nixon and the actor who portrays him.

i am hoping these reviews and the more to come remove FROST/NIXON from any further best picture predix. it looks like a possible repeat of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, with a lead actor win, rather than a repeat of multiple nominations like THE QUEEN.
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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:05 pm

Screen Daily.

Frost/Nixon
Fionnuala Halligan in London
15 Oct 2008 23:17

Dir. Ron Howard. US/UK 2008. 122 mins.

The magnificently-flawed former US president Richard Milhous Nixon, as embodied by Frank Langella, is a magnetic presence in Ron Howard's adaptation of Peter Morgan's stageplay. The nervous man with the chair and whip forced to try and contain him is Michael Sheen as glossy TV interviewer David Frost. It is always an uneven match.

While Frost/Nixon has its problems, attracting awards attention for Frank Langella isn't going to be one of them. Reprising his Tony-winning performance as Nixon in a ground-breaking series of TV interviews which took place in 1977, the actor doesn't deliver an impersonation or a caricature – he looks nothing like Nixon, nor does he sound like him. He rightly treats Morgan's script as a gift to an actor and runs with Tricky Dicky as far as he can go.

Commercially, though, it's not clear where Frost/Nixon will find its audience. It zips through the whole of Watergate and Nixon's forced resignation during the opening credits, seemingly targeting a politically-aware, older audience, and then gives them a not-terribly-challenging story about the early days of television and how a superficial talent like Frost instinctively grasped the reductive power of an image. Yet Frost/Nixon doesn't entirely make its own case: the Nixon we see on screen is in no way defined by Frost's soundbite. And Sheen is just a shade too flimsy as the gadfly Frost. There's much talk about a great gladiatorial contest between interviewer and disgraced president, but it never feels remotely equal between the two onscreen.

Boosted by Langella's undoubted nominations, Frost/Nixon should land in a Last King Of Scotland territory commercially – both were written by Morgan and take on larger-than-life characters through a youthful side-figure. The natural audience is the West Wing/Good Night And Good Luck sophisticated set, and the fact it's an election year won't hurt. The US and UK are obviousl homes for this – Frost is still a UK TV personality and the story is semi-set there. Outside these key markets it may face more of a struggle, however. Ancillary will be an easier fit across the board: this is a good, prestige broadcast buy and a DVD natural.

Opening out Morgan's stageplay enough not to look moribund – although this is not a very cinematic piece – Howard starts proceedings in earnest with Nixon's forced resignation speech (in the face of certain impeachment) and a curious Frost, anchoring game and chat shows in the UK and Australia (but having failed in New York), determined to secure the disgraced US president for a series of interviews which will ultimately take place three years later in 1977 at a price of $600,000 arranged by Frost himself without the backing of a major network.

In canny character-setting moments, we witness Nixon's greed through his dealings with agent Swifty Lazar (Jones), his longing to return to the centre of power in Washington and away from Los Angeles, his reluctance to face up to the actions which brought him low. He is indeed a towering personality, psychologically intimidating to Frost, charming and devious and controlling, if not always controlled.

Opposite him, we have Frost; an under-written figure: the words "game show host" seem to be a short-cut for his characterisation. The conventions of the film require him to be a dim-bulb presence for most of the movie before having a Damascene conversion to rigorous reporting at the 11th hour. To shore him up until he gets there, his investigative team - Matthew MacFadeyn as producer John Birt, Oliver Platt as reporter Bob Zelnick and Sam Rockwell as James Reston Jr - deliver expository dialogue as he swans around to parties with token female presence Rebecca Hall.

Not helpful here is the fact that Sheen's squirming performance feels too similar to the Tony Blair he delivered in Morgan's The Queen. Over in Nixon's camp, meanwhile, Kevin Bacon plays chief of staff Col. Jack Brennan.

Production design lands us firmly in the 1970s, although Nixon's California home is the only notable exterior location work. Using cinematographer Salvatore Totino, Howard's work is solid and unshowy. A semi-documentary style with the supporting players talking directly to camera gives the earlier segments a choppy feel. But the pacing never lags, even at 122 minutes of often-dense dialogue.

Frost/Nixon does, indeed, intrigue, and leaves the viewer wanting more – from that era, with which we are so fascinated now, from Nixon even, but certainly less about the power of the TV image when so much more was going on in front of that lens.

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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:36 am

And now, reviews. Variety first.

Frost/Nixon
By TODD MCCARTHY

A Univeral release of a Universal, Imagine Entertainment, Working Title Films presentation in association with StudioCanal and Relativity Media of a Brian Grazer/Working Title production. Produced by Grazer, Ron Howard, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner. Executive producers, Peter Morgan, Matthew Byam Shaw, Karen Kehela Sherwood, David Bernardi, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin, Todd Hallowell. Directed by Ron Howard. Screenplay, Peter Morgan, based on his play.

Richard Nixon - Frank Langella
David Frost - Michael Sheen
Jack Brennan… - Bacon
Caroline Cushing - Rebecca Hall
Swifty Lazar - Toby Jones
John Birt - Matthew Macfadyen
Bob Zelnick… - Platt
James Reston - Sam Rockwell
Pat Nixon - Patty McCormack
Frank Gannon - Andy Miller
Diane Sawyer - Kate Jennings Grant
Sue Mengers - Eve Curtis

"Frost/Nixon" is an effective, straightforward bigscreen version of Peter Morgan's shrewd stage drama about the historic 1977 TV interview in which Richard Nixon brought himself down once again. Like the other election year release about a modern Republican president, "W.," this one isn't out to "get" its much vilified subject as much as it tries to cast him as something of a tragic victim of his own limitations and foibles--tragic for the perpetrator and his country alike. Frank Langella's meticulous performance will generate the sort of attention that will attract serious filmgoers, assuring good biz in upscale markets, but luring the under-40 public will pose a significant marketing challenge. Universal release preemed Wednesday night as the opener of the London Film Festival in advance of Dec. 5 Stateside bow.

Recreating the role for which he won a Tony Award last year, Langella doesn't instantaneously convince as the 37th president the moment you first see him, in the wake of Nixon's resignation in disgrace on Aug. 9, 1974--the voice seems a bit langorous, the mannerisms a tad forced, his features a shade Mediterranean. But over the course of the piece, the many facets of the performance merge into an impeccably observed characterization of a man whose accomplishments, intellect and aggressive use of power never entirely overcame an abiding inferiority complex and propensity for self-sabotage.

Morgan, who has carved a unique niche for himself penning smart dramas about the private dealings of eminent modern figures ("The Queen," "The Deal," "The Last King of Scotland"), laid out in his 2006 play the unlikely circumstances surrounding Nixon's four-part interview with English TV personality and chat show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), a breezy entertainer better known for bantering with showbiz stars than for confronting political heavyweights.

As with "The Queen," one couldn't have suspected there was necessarily a film in this material or, even if there were, that it could be written with such authority and seeming inside knowledge. In this case, the important events unfolded much as they do onscreen: the bold and opportunistic Frost, then hosting a TV show in Australia, put his own money on the line to keep the project alive when all the major networks and most advertisers shied away from the checkbook journalism involved; Swifty Lazar brokered the deal that would bring Nixon a much-needed $600,000; the former president saw the epic interview as a means to rehabilitate himself, which in turn would lead to a move back East to the corridors of power, and, in what was mutually acknowledged to be a duel in which only one man would prevail, Nixon almost effortlessly controlled the interview until Frost turned the tables in a desparate, last-minute ploy that changed everything.

Although it all pays off in a potent and revelatory final act rife with insights into the psychology and calculations of power players, the initial stretch is rather dry and prosaic. Perhaps needlessly adopting a cinematic equivalent of the play's direct-to-audience address, Howard "interviews" several of the characters, witness-style, about the events, which only serves to make the film feel somewhat choppy, half like a documentary at first. Approach also imposes an overly predictable editing style on the whole film, one in which the cuts come precisely on the expected beats, when a fleet, syncopated rhythm would have moved the exposition along with more flair. It might even be that the film could have done without the talking heads altogether.

Sheen, so effective as Tony Blair in both "The Deal" and "The Queen," excels again as Frost, an insouciant ladies' man who in many ways was Nixon's opposite--light, devil-may-care and sociable rather than dark, brooding and awkward. An engaging early scene, in which Frost, traveling with recruited British producer John Birt (Matthew Macfadyen), picks up comely young socialite Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall) in a 747's upstairs first-class cabin on his way to meet Nixon in California for the first time, adroitly conveys the gifted gabber's talent for mixing work and pleasure.

The only slightly disconcerting aspect of Sheen's turn is his appearance; with his longish, brushed-back hair, sideburns, arched eyebrows and occasionally pursed lips, he calls to mind Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." For her part, as coiffed here, Hall looks quite like Carly Simon.

Widely viewed as a lightweight ill-equipped to take on a cagey old pro like Nixon, Frost engages two key associates to help strategize for the big event, vet journo Bob Zelnick (Oliver Platt) and professional Nixon hater James Reston (Sam Rockwell). Nixon, portrayed as leading a lonely, isolated life at his seaside villa in San Clemente (key location work was done at the president's actual house, Casa Pacifica), relies for support on a former Marine, Col Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon), while wife Pat (Patty McCormack, child star of "The Bad Seed") putters around in a fog.

While the preliminaries could have been served up with a bit more panache, the behind-the-scenes details prove more interesting than might have been imagined. Fearing that Frost may not be up to the task, Zelnick and Reston are aghast when their boss drops everything to attend the Hollywod preem of "The Slipper and the Rose," a film he exec produced. Reston, especially, senses that Frost, who's consumed by trying to nail down backing for the $2 million undertaking, will fail to put Nixon through "the trial he never had" and supply what he feels the American people need--a conviction.

Dramatic intensity increases when the interviews commence at pic's midway point. The interviews were taped, not at Nixon's own abode (due to electrical interference from nearby Coast Guard equipment), but at the modest nearby home of a Republican Party supporter. Nixon has his way with Frost through the first three sessions, telling long stories, reinforcing his presidential stature and digressing when his interlocutor attempts to put him on the spot.

The interview excerpts are obviously the real thing, and have been staged with great attention to how they actually looked. Where the script really shines is in the incidental backstage conversation, especially how Nixon smalltalks Frost and catches him off-guard with remarks about the host's presumed sex life and habits. These private exchanges culminate in the work's most compelling sequence, in which an inebriated Nixon, prior to the final interview, phones Frost with a late-night ramble stressing their perceived similarities as fellows from modest circumstances looked down upon by "the snobs." "We still feel like the little man. The loser they told us we were," the one-time commander-in-chief insinuates, just as he promises that the final session will be "no holds barred."

By these final scenes, Langella has all but disappeared so as to deliver Nixon himself, leading to a melancholy ending defined, as predicted, by the triumph of one man and the virtual vanquishing of the other.

Playing real-life participants, some better known than others, supporting players are uniformly effective. A host of locations, including the very suite at the Beverly Hilton where Frost stayed, heighten the verisimilitude, although production designer Michael Corenblith, his staff and costume designer Daniel Orlandi have advisedly soft-pedaled the period mid-70s accoutrements so as not to distract too much from serious matters at hand. Hans Zimmer's background score provides some extra zing, while the R rating, earned no doubt by a number of vulgarities, is unfortunate, as it will further limit the number of younger people who might see the film.

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Postby Damien » Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:54 pm

Okri wrote:I read the play recently, and without getting into to spoilery an area, I was mildly disappointed with it. It's solid without being particularly great.

I saw the play on Broadway, and you're correct, Okri. There's no subtext to the piece -- it's only about what it's about (i.e. Nixon being interviewed by Frost) with no deeper themes or meanings (and Ron Howard is certainly not the person to add any). Entertaining, though.
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Postby Greg » Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:09 pm

I just loved the devilish way Langella as Nixon asks Frost if he did any fornicating just before the cameras rolled.
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Postby Okri » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:44 pm

I read the play recently, and without getting into to spoilery an area, I was mildly disappointed with it. It's solid without being particularly great. Ron Howard actually suits the material more then he doesn't (which also disappointed me, politics notwithstanding).

I'm also sorta curious about the characterization of Nixon (though it seemed to gibe with what I recall of Mister Tee's memories of him). I can definitely see Langella actually being a contender for it, though. Less so for Sheen.

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:41 pm

Neither Langella nor Sheen seem close to the real thing as I have vivid memories of both Nixon and Frost, but I suspect they grow on you during the course of the film. Langella's makeup is quite good.

The music is too insistent. Hopefully it's toned down for the actual film, but given Howard's usual hit 'em over the head approach, I doubt it. Still, this is one of the few films this year I am really looking forward to.
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