Monday, May 11, 2009

Frost / Nixon

I've had Frost / Nixon on my list for a long time. Mrs. Film Geek, who is not a political movie geek, called in a few markers and forced the movie down the list.

For several weeks.

"It can't be better than the live Watergate hearings," she said. "Plus, Ron Howard [the director] will try to humanize Nixon, there will be lots of subtle references to the Bush presidency and we won't learn anything about Watergate, Frost or Nixon that we didn't know before the movie."

I waited until she wasn't home to watch the movie. After watching the movie alone, I planned to list off to her each of the things she had wrong, after she arrived home from shopping. I even watched the flick with a notepad just in case, because I'm a competitive bastard.

I'll be damned, but she was right. Dead on right.

While the acting was very good, the plot and pace were rather tepid. Frost / Nixon was mostly smoke, with only a little fire.

I'm not gonna tell Mrs. Film Geek I saw the movie. The only problem is, I'll have to figure out a way to bow out gracefully if and when she does decide she wants to watch it.


Spike Nesmith said...

What disappointed me the most was that, like a lot of biopics, it was only *based* on what actually happened. I was really rather excited to see the movie, as I'm a bit of a Frost/Nixon interview nerd. (Also, my life is empty.) But there were things that were just plain wrong, and things that were completely made up. Nixon never called Frost the night before the final interview, f'rexample. The cheeseburger chat never happened.

Nixon was far less intense and a lot more wistful during the real interviews, too. In fact, I found that the genuine article humanised him more than the movie did. There's places that it's hard not to feel sorry for him, when you notice that in front of you is a guy who knows that his legacy, the only thing he ever really *wanted*, has been unsalvageable pissed down the drain and that he has nothing left. He almost tears up in several points, particularly when he talks about how his comfortable life no longer has any real purpose.

It was a good *movie*, though. The pacing is bang on the money, and both Sheen and Langella are great, although I found Langella's Nixon to be leaning towards the jowel-shaking, V-holding, growling "iii am NOT a crook!" impression that everyone does rather than a more accurate portrayal, like Sheen's Frost. I was floored by that, if I closed my eyes, it absolutely *was* Frost. The guy doesn't just act, he channels.

Top marks, too, to the real David Frost for allowing himself to be shown in a not altogether flattering light. Still, it could have been worse. The Python lads were far more vicious with their portrayal:

(Incidentally, the credits allude to the fact that Frost used to take credit for everything, earning him the industry nickname "The Bubonic Plagiarist"!)

Nixon is a lot like John Holmes, film makers seem keen to bugger about with a truth that is far more interesting than any of the fiction that's been made about them.

The Film Geek said...

It was very disappointing. I knew of the cheeseburger myth, and that Frost was considered to be way over his head with the interview. I hated the pacing, though, because it forced the final minutes, when Nixon fessed up to a cover-up, to feel very anticlimactic.

primalscreamx said...

Take her to see Star Trek. All will be forgiven.