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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Director Ron Howard took the Richard Nixon interviews with David Frost
of the 1970s and made an interesting and entertaining film. I always
knew that Nixon resigned from the Presidency, but before I saw this
film I had no idea who David Frost was, or that he interviewed Nixon.
When David Frost, a talk show host, decides to interview Richard Nixon, the entire nation thinks it is a joke. A man named Jim Reston (in the film, who knows if he was based on a real person) convinces Frost to punish Nixon. He says that Richard Nixon needs "the trial he never got" and that he should not be able to exonerate himself in the interview. Frost cleverly brings up 'watergate' and keeps asking Nixon until the President cracks under pressure. The initial idea for this film is very interesting and I think it was executed well both in acting and writing.
Brilliant. Ron Howard crafts the David Frost interview of Richard Nixon
into a sporting event, with punch and counter-punch, mind games, agony
and ecstasy. A very well-told story, with examinations of both
protagonists characters, mindsets and motives.
Howard keeps the movie going, never getting mired in over-sentimentality or minor details. At no point does the plot drift.
The cast is perfect for their roles: Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, Michael Sheen as David Frost, Kevin Bacon as Nixon's Chief-of-Staff Jack Brennan, Sam Rockwell as James Reston jr and Oliver Platt as Bob Zelnick. All deliver outstanding performances.
A fascinating expose of one of the more notorious incidents in American history, and the interview that made a TV legend.
Ron Howard has once again a stirring and interesting drama. Many critics have cited his new film 'Frost/Nixon' as his best film to date but I still believe that his finest work is his Oscar winning picture 'A Beautiful Mind.' Ron Howard I believe is a wonderful storyteller who can experiment with films and most of the time do it successfully and it is because of his confidence behind the camera. Apart from the sloppy 'Angels and Demons' he has had a great track-record for me. Yes, even 'The Da Vinci Code' I liked. This film is based on the play written by Peter Morgan who also wrote 'The Queen.' He adapts into the screen perfectly giving it a brilliant cinematic feel with half the credit going to Howard as well. The actors Frank Langella and Michael Sheen played the same roles as disgraced former President Richard Nixon and TV personality David Frost on Broadway. Their performances are wonderfully intense in their own separate ways. Langella's performance was one bound to win awards whilst Sheen's is equal in every way but not bound for the same fate. The story follows the legendary interviews between the two and a quest for the truth about 'Watergate.' It is compelling and intense - a great piece of cinema.
It's to Frost/Nixon's great credit that a series, or passage, of
televised interviews from thirty or so years ago come across as
cinematic as they do here. In a film whose requirements are to
distribute a certain amount of dramatic weight to both the interviews
themselves as well as to all the talking, planning and building in the
lead up to the interviews, Frost/Nixon rather impressively balances the
burden. Most of the scenes in the run up carry a strange, laid back and
somewhat cheeky aura to them; driven by Michael Sheen's gleefully
faced, easily excitable, 'the world is my oyster' journalist David
Frost. There's nothing that the man doesn't think he cannot achieve;
and the period setting, in which a lot of the mise-en-scene seems to
boast somewhat proudly "this is the 1970s", mixed with a colourful
palette creates an odd overall juxtaposition clashing with the fact
it's Richard Nixon we're additionally dealing with here; and it's what
he did that spawns what the film's essentially revolving around.
I'd say a lot of the film feels carefree, almost as if we're supposed to find a lot of what goes on quite funny, but I mean that with the greatest of respects. Out of the interview room, the universe in which the film is unfolded is Frost's and is captured dutifully by the above characteristics. When the cameras are rolling and the two men are sitting opposite one another, Frost initially seems lost: that sense of 'fun' dissipates and Nixon dominates a lot of the proceedings. The film is a clashing of two perspectives of the world and those that inhabit it: young with old; carefree with careful; colloquial with formal but in addition, that underlying essence of British with American.
The film begins with what looks like some sort of formal interview about tricky subject matter shot with a 'vox-pox' ideation in mind, very quickly setting up that sense of juxtaposition Frost/Nixon seems to maintain in regards to character attitudes and sense of atmosphere. Frequently using, but not overdoing, the docu-drama convention; the early dialogue to camera is a journalist talking about how he followed Nixon's gradual decline from The White House as president of the USA, before observing the finale to everything and how to him it all resembled a soap opera of sorts, as these incredible events played out to the world. The relation that the film makes here, towards how real life events are able to carry some sort of dramatic weight, is a further example of how Frost/Nixon's self-referential style and content believes in its subject material and invites you to dramatically enjoy it. This is both the talk and the build up to the interviews as well as the actual Frost-Nixon interviews themselves as a piece of cinematic drama.
Sheen is Frost, as mentioned, whilst Frank Langella is Nixon. Nixon is a big guy, both in name and stature. Frost is softly spoken in comparison, juddery and wide-eyed whereas Nixon's deep, gruff and somewhat slurred voice twinned with a supposed bottomless pit of knowledge, interests and life-stories has him as more than a match for this relatively small time London Weekend Television based TV presenter whose overall televisual genre, if we go by what Frost is seen presenting early on, seems to be a combination of both news and slapstick.
Most of the film is fun and games in regards to the build up to the first interview. Nixon establishes himself as the kind of man who subscribes to challenges, likes to set himself goals and enjoys battles with individuals, be they victories or otherwise. When Kevin Bacon's Jack Brennan, an aide to Nixon, begins to label it a boxing match a sort of on screen verbal jousting, the notion of this being a close to one-off; one-on-one scenario between two contrasting individuals is really pushed home in case nobody's got it by now. The film's somewhat colourful and upbeat content prior to the sessions, helped by Frost's seemingly invincible confidence, establishes one sense of aura but everything gradually gets lowered down to a more grounded level when it's established money is an issue on Frost's behalf, something that will crop up later in in regards to loosing a lot of it as well as potentially one's career. There's that feeling that Frost, playing an up and coming television personality, whilst Nixon, as an on the way down politician, has a chance to bury him when they meet half way.
But Ron Howard's impressive direction puts pay to this, very gradually reiterating the money as an element which puts everything severely at stake. The reality of the situation is brought home when Frost is all alone in a darkened and gloomy hotel room on a Friday night prior to a days shooting he doesn't have much to go on in terms of material, and his career is on the line: there's that interesting sense that the guy is beginning to realise what 'real' journalism is all about. But while encompassing elements of self-discovery for Frost, establishing a wrong belief and a wrong approach before having him correct himself, the film isn't necessarily dominated by this study. Rather, it sees a man grossly underestimate another man, much in the vein he did an entire nation with a very fair and very specific political system rendering the whole thing a success on careful and minute levels.
If one is expecting to see a surly one dimensional Nixon and Frost as a pure white knight, it doesn't happen in this film. Someone here really looked into character and created a set of complex events and complex people. One doesn't become President of the United States without being a pretty charismatic figure. Nixon goes down in history as a crook, but he was a lot more than that. Frank Langella reprises his theater role and plays Nixon to the hilt. He is manipulative, calculating, somewhat charming in the correct circumstances, and nearly obsessed with "correcting" his image. The byplay that takes place between Nixon and Frost is priceless. I've been told that even if you don't like the President, the power emanating from the office itself, makes one weak kneed. There is a really precious scene that illustrates this, though I don't want to spoil it. David Frost comes off initially as a bit shallow. If we are to believe the events, we see him really in over his head. I had no idea that he had made such a financial commitment to these interviews. It is also interesting to see the dynamics among himself and his colleagues. This is an "acting" move and well worth the time. If you lived through Watergate, you will especially treasure this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For anyone who's ever read the news, made the news, heard of the news, or even said news would know about the Frost-Nixon debate. Ron Howard has now made an enthralling telling of it. It has a half-documentary, and half-fictional feel that works perfectly. Michael Sheen is excellent as David Frost, a news reporter who tries to set up an interview with infamous president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). When David finally gets Richard on his news show, as always, Richard turns into Tricky Dick, wasting David's time with nonsense stories. The supporting players such as Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, and Oliver Platt also had to the witty excitement to be had here. But, while reading this review, remember it is not meant to be a fun movie, it's just surprisingly kind of fun. Ron Howard has made a marvelous movie, which we all know he can do, blending a great mix of drama and thrills. The movie is not bland like it could have easily been, but instead is a witty, Shakesperean-like film that is a perfect example of a definite Oscar movies. It doesn't get any better than this- smart, witty, enthralling, bold, brilliant, and daring. This is definitely a must see for anyone who's anyone.
Well, if you try to compare Frost/Nixon with other semi-documentary
movies like JFK, you will totally lose the point here. This is a movie
where performances mattered,camera works matter and pace mattered. But
none of them is enough to summarize the unique quality provided by this
It started slow with interviews with most of the leading actors in their characters. It gave you a realistic feeling from then. Then, it goes directly to the two title roles and their lives and interactions, and finally lead to maybe the most sublime conversation ever illustrated in a movie. A lot of audiences may have already known the contents and the results of such a conversation, but they, like me, were still totally stuck by the dramatic personality of Nixon and the presentation. Therefore, you can safely go to the theater and sit down to enjoy, even though you thought the story has nothing new to offer.
The performances were nothing like you'd expect them to be. Frank Langella well deserved his Oscar nomination, while in my opinion, Michael Sheen also deserved to be nominated.
But, sadly enough, all the people I recommended this movie to, tend to fall asleep watching it. Maybe subtlety and character study are really not for everyone.
Excellent drama with excellent characters and messages. IQ required.
Ron Howard does to Frost/Nixon what he knows best. He picks up people
and develops them into these intriguing characters, as he did with
James Braddok in Cinderella Man or John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
Frost/Nixon is not an attempt to bring out a protagonist in either of
the two lead characters. It is rather an intense presentation of a
fallen but stubborn President and a maverick talk show host who knows
what sells on TV.
Langella is brilliant as Nixon. And Michael Sheen is developing into a niche character actor. The film initially develops his part brilliantly, which is needed, since we know much about Nixon but little about Frost. The film does not bore you with needless background. it comes straight to the plot and moves smoothly.
Ron Howard presents gripping tale with moments of sheer class augmented by superior camera-work with focus on closeups and expressions given by the actors. the narrative style gives the viewer time to catch her breath in an otherwise fast paced and indulging film.
One of the best films of the year.
Ron Howard's finest film? I had certainly not expected Howard to direct a political drama surrounding the famous 1977 interviews of President Richard Nixon by TV host David Frost, that's for certain. Starting off with a montage of newsreels, cut-out photos and names on paper, the film takes on a sort of documentary style (aptly named 'mockumentary') as we see the characters of the film interviewed by a unrepresented behind camera - it's like Howard deals with this as pure fact, something it is - well, sort of. Howard, and screenwriter Peter Morgan (who also wrote the original stage act), has taken liberties in creating this drama, which happily is for the better; they narrow it down, they pace it smartly as a duel of two eventually either falling or rising stars, and although the dialogs are very politically concerned (off course), they remain vital and full of energy - much to Morgan's screen writing, but mostly to Michael Sheen's swaggering performance as Frost and Frank Langella's hunching lion of Nixon. For me, this was a left-hook from Howard, and if this is him doing it alternative, can we please have more?
He's probably the world's bravest interviewer in all of American
History. This film is the story of David Frost and the four part
interview he had with former President Richard M. Nixon. But if you
think that these interviews were just any ordinary interview that you
would see on Letterman, Leno, or O'Brien, well, you will be pleasantly
surprised about this movie.
Let me give you some history behind the movie. After Nixon resigned from office due to heighten controversy about the Watergate scandal, Nixon was trying to redeem himself from the mistake by showing America that it was a non-intentional mistake. He was planning to write a memoir about his life journey and even go to a few interviews, hoping that through the words that he wrote and spoke, that America can forgive him for his past wrong-doings and remember him as a legacy for incredible achievements such as being the first President to have good connections with China. But then he saw David Frost's offer for an interview and Nixon and his team basically said that they could bully David Frost on air and make David Frost look stupid and Nixon look very presidential. But what Nixon did not know about this was that David Frost's funds for this interview was coming out of Frost's dear friends, or as I like to say, "Beg, borrow, and steal." So Frost was not going to let Nixon "bully" him around on air. He was going to give Nixon a fight.
And that was a huge premise of the movie. While you watch the movie, it is treated like a boxing match or a fight. You see the two opponents on each side of the ring with their entourage, giving them pep talk, developing strategies on what to do or what to say, and helping them on how to tick off their opponent. Also, the interviews that were conducted were very intense and thrilling (especially the last interview). I was legitimately and thoroughly hanging on every word and stall in the interview and that was what made the movie so great. The anxiety of those interviews and the raging wit and word war between Nixon and Frost.
Frank Langella was probably the best Richard Nixon impression ever since Anthony Hopkins. Even though Langella did not look anything like the real Richard Nixon, his movements, his way of speaking, and his expressions all really emphasized the idea of not just his impression of Nixon, but also how Nixon was not at all a nice guy and how Nixon became known as "Tricky Dick." And let me not forget about Michael Sheen and his great performance as David Frost in this film.
I thought that the beginning of the movie was rather rushed a little and in some ways, not favorable, but everything else was just marvelous. Also, there was so much limelight on the two characters David Frost and Richard Nixon to the point that all the other characters in the movie just seemed like shadows. But then again, you can make a backfire about that by saying that the movie is solely based on the interviews with Nixon and Frost, thusly, being called Frost/Nixon. And I liked that because if this movie were to go off into the other characters for too long, I would have been condemning the movie more.
But if you are interested in politics, especially one that involves Nixon and Watergate, I highly recommend this movie to you. Thusly, I give this movie a low eight.
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