Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frost/Nixon

I think I would have liked this a lot more if I hadn't seen the play. The performances were good and the screenplay was good. But I'd heard the good lines before. And perhaps it was because I'd already seen the play but it just didn't feel as dramatic. I was riveted by the play and was a little bored by the movie at times. I don't think Ron Howard is that great of a director so maybe that had something to do with it? Or maybe I was just tired but for whatever reason, this movie didn't stick with me the way I wanted it to.

Nixon was such a tortured soul. He's an endless source of fascination to people years later. But the film did feel a bit irrelevant to me based on what's going on right now. It was a period piece in a way that the more insightful Good Night and Good Luck wasn't. Yes, that film was about the 50's but it also had a lot to say about current events. This film didn't have much to say about today's current events other than Bush is so much less interesting than Nixon. Yet another reason to hate the guy.

The Noiseboy agrees. His review:

Frost/Nixon was just okay, far from the great film I thought it may be based upon the subject matter and the trailer. Frank Langella, who plays Nixon, does a commendable job. But I had a hard time buying into Frost’s character. I just didn’t find him, or his struggles for credibility, to be all that compelling. Frost pulled off a near miracle in getting Nixon, who was backed by an army of shrewd politicos and media types and was himself a wise old man, to own up to Watergate.

But on the silver screen, Frost seems like a total hack who more or less lucked into Nixon’s confession, based upon a few nights of hard work. His character seems shallow and too transparent, and by film’s end I didn’t believe in his transformation. As for my ambivalence about the film, I blame the screenwriters, who focused too little time on the actual interviews themselves, missing a golden opportunity to follow their own conclusions — that the close-ups of the TV screen revealed more about Nixon’s character than a thousand words — to the logical end of concentrating more heavily on the heat of the moment.

Also, for a film whose protagonist continually battles to resist portraying Nixon in a sympathetic light, Frost/Nixon does just that. By the film’s end, I feel sorry for the guy. Overall, I just didn’t find the film to be that believable, which is sad since it’s not a work of fiction.


He brings up a good point about the television screen. The interviews were handled exceedingly well in the play. There were big TV screens set up on stage that transmitted live footage of the actors on screen during the interviews. It was quite effective. In the movie, we were already watching a screen so this staging was not necessary. It was missed.

Directed by Ron Howard
2008
Amc Loews 19th St.

2 comments:

thenoiseboy said...

Now I feel like a film critic -- to be quoted on your film blog! (And just this week I did my first proper film critique for The Wrestler.)

mas said...

Is this the weakest group of Best Picture nominees ever? I labored through "Benjamin Button" a couple weeks ago and just saw "Frost/Nixon." Way too much obvious expository dialogue ("They said I lost the election to Kennedy because I was sweating," etc.) and no real drama. Langella and Sheen were both good but caricatures in a way that Sean Penn avoided in "Milk," probably my favorite of the nominees (I haven't seen "The Reader") but far from a Best Picture in any other year.