Movie Review for Frost/Nixon (2008)

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Review #716 of 365
Movie Review of Frost/Nixon (2008) [R] 122 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.75
Where Viewed: AMC Westminster Promenade 24, Westminster, CO
When Seen: 28 December 2008 @ 1:40 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: nothing
Unsung Member of the Crew: Set Designer – Lorrie Campbell

Soundtrack: Download now from Hans Zimmer - Frost/Nixon (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code)
Written by: Peter Morgan (The Other Boleyn Girl )

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Frank Langella (Superman Returns) • Michael Sheen (Blood Diamond) • Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) • Kevin Bacon (Death Sentence) • Matthew Macfadyen (Death at a Funeral) • Oliver Platt (Martian Child) • Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) • Toby Jones (City of Ember ) • Patty McCormack ("The Sopranos")

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Playwright Peter Morgan based his original play, "Frost/Nixon", on the actual interviews of David Frost and Richard Nixon. Given the current political times, when many USAers stand worried that the current Bush Administration, which managed to Houdini it's way out of resignation let alone prosecution, will never see the day of justice, it's easy to see why politically astute director, Ron Howard, wanted to bring this play to the screen. Reprising their stage roles are Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost. The film takes the tact that the British talk show host is seeking a major score to turn up the heat on his career while James Reston, Jr. (Sam Rockwell) and Bob Zelnick (Oliver Platt) are hoping to give Nixon the trial he never got. This awkward trio supported by producer John Birt (Matthew Macfadyen) and Frost girlfriend of the moment, Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall) work tirelessly behind the scenes of the interview to get something worthy of what is going to have to be self-produced due to a lack of network interest and therefore money. Working on behalf of Nixon are his military confidant, Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) and Swifty Lazar (Toby Jones—who can barely be in a film without Michael Sheen). Upon deeper reflection, however, the story's substance and central conflict resolves to war of wit and words: Reston-Frost vs. Brennan-Nixon. Reston will not rest until he's provided David Frost with every bit of data as well as the moral certitude to go after Nixon at his core. Brennan will do anything and everything to protect Nixon not just from outsiders but, also, from himself. When it comes down to it, though, it will be Nixon vs. Frost.

If you want to see some great acting, this film's for you, if you want a powerful and compelling story, watch the original tapes.
People who do not recall seeing the real tapes either due to age or indifference will be somewhat fascinated by the film's interactions between Frost and Nixon. Those who did will appreciate the back story of what has been envisioned to be going on behind the scenes and how the interviews came to be. Unfortunately, the entire story suffers from what I call the "Of Mice and Men" syndrome in reference to Steinbeck's great literary classic. When I first read Of Mice and Men, I was stunned to think this was considered one of the best American novels of all time. But that is because I wasn't able to conceive of the time when it was written vs. when I read it. When it was published it was daring. There had been no Corky on "Life Goes On". But, by my time frame, it was pretty, well, old hat. And, whatever wrongdoings with which Nixon was involved seem like grade school antics compared with what we've seen in the last 8 years. So, when the climax of the film arrives, it's practically a whimper despite being so stunning. In the end, it's the performances of Langella and Sheen that really make the film much more so than the story. If you want to see some great acting, this film's for you, if you want a powerful and compelling story, watch the original tapes.

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Cast Members
Frank LangellaMichael SheenSam Rockwell
Kevin BaconMatthew MacfadyenOliver Platt
Rebecca HallToby JonesPatty McCormack
Ron Howard
Peter Morgan

Review-lite Frost/Nixon (2008) [max of 150 words]
Academy Award®-winning director Ron Howard brings Peter Morgan's award-winning play, "Frost/Nixon" to the screen featuring the incredible performances, in roles they created, of Michael Sheen as David Frost and Frank Langella as Richard Nixon. The story suffers from being a little bit too late for most USAers compared to what's been going on for 8 years, Nixon's crimes seem like child's play. Nonetheless, outstanding performances from Sheen and Langella save the show.

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