A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey (Neeson), a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.
Director Oliver Stone's exploration of former president Richard Nixon's strict Quaker upbringing, his nascent political strivings in law school, and his strangely self-effacing courtship of his wife, Pat. The contradictions in his character are revealed early, in the vicious campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas and the oddly masochistic Checkers speech. His defeat at the hands of the hated and envied John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election, followed by the loss of the 1962 California gubernatorial race, seem to signal the end of his career. Yet, although wholly lacking in charisma, Nixon remains a brilliant political operator, seizing the opportunity provided by the backlash against the antiwar movement to take the presidency in 1968. It is only when safely in office, running far ahead in the polls for the 1972 presidential election, that his growing paranoia comes to full flower, triggering the Watergate scandal. Written by
Numerous scenes throughout the movie feature President Nixon seated or standing in front of a crackling log fire, particularly in the scene where he talks to the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Although in each scene real logs can be heard crackling, hissing, and popping, as real wood will do, close-ups of the fire reveal it to be a "fake" natural gas fireplace, with artificial logs that are "burning" evenly and cleanly with a vertical flame, and no smoke or embers coming off them. See more »
Everyone accuses Oliver Stone of being a conspiracy theorist, a revisionist historian, a muckraker, and a falsifier of history. Whether these things are true or not, he is a great director and his portrait of president Richard Nixon is sensitive, fair, and human. Stone may be opposed to Nixon, but he does not depict him as a monster. Stone and Hopkins give us Nixon, the man undone by fear. He is not condemned, nor is he forgiven. In spite of some scenes suggesting a connection with conspirators involved in the assassination of JFK, the president is given a fair shake.
Hopkins gives a wonderful performance as Nixon. He's not a carbon copy, but he gets the voice and mannerisms down so well that it doesn't matter. At his side he has Joan Allen as Pat and Paul Sorvino as a picture perfect Henry Kissinger. The supporting cast features James Woods, Bob Hoskins, Ed Harris, and E.G. Marshall and, for their part, they shine as well. Call Stone over the top all you want, but he gets real performances.
The biopic structure of "Nixon" starts us off with his political career in the late 50s. The audience gets a taste of the man's relationship with his wife and (mostly through flashbacks) his relationship with his mother. The flashback structure and editing scheme aren't as impressive as those used by Stone in "JFK", but they serve the movie well and make the 3 hours run by smoothly. As the story rolls on you get a real sense of sympathy for Nixon. I was pretty surprised how much pathos Stone could build for a character history labels a monster. Throughout the Watergate scandal we are not outraged at Nixon, we fear for him, his paranoia is ours. Nixon is a human being just like us and we can understand his mistakes and his flaws and his fears. By the end it's hard to think of him as the monster you thought of before.
Robert Richardson's stunning photography helps to perfectly render this drama. "Nixon" is a sensational looking movie. Just like Stone did with "JFK" and "Natural Born Killers", the photography and editing work to heighten the drama and never distract from it. The approach as human rather than historical drama makes "Nixon" believable and touching. Who'd have thought I'd ever shed tears over Richard Nixon! Anthony Hopkins does the trick.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys good drama. Fans of the cast and of Oliver Stone won't be disappointed.
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