Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Frost/Nixon" - spoiler movie review

"Frost/Nixon" is the last of the films I needed to see before the Academy Awards this year. OK, well, I would have liked to have seen "The Class" as well (I had seen the trailer and was interested, and then it was subsequently nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category), but it's currently only in limited release and so a bit hard to get to.

I will admit that I wasn't initially all that interested in this film. I'd seen the trailer, but I'm not a political person, so a movie about Nixon didn't interest me. Then I heard some good word of mouth, and some people said that it wasn't so much about the political history of Nixon as it was a cat-and-mouse game between Richard Nixon and David Frost during the course of the interviews, and that, coupled with a few Oscar nominations, made me decide to see the film. (Just in case you're wondering, Oscar nominations can make me want to see a movie if I'm otherwise even slightly interested anyway, but nominations themselves won't make me see a movie - cases in point would be "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Reader", both of which are nominated for Best Picture and other major categories, but I have zero interest in either film.)

Generally, I enjoyed the film, though I will include the disclaimer that I felt like crap pretty much for the duration of the film, so I missed parts of it, and I wasn't fully focussed on the parts I saw, so I might have enjoyed it more had I actually been not distracted with physical ailments. I was not aware of the historical significance of the interviews since I wasn't very old at the time, though I do remember David Frost as I remember watching and liking a lot of his interviews. It must have been a daunting task indeed to recreate what were historically significant interviews. I did like the documentary style of the film, including opinion and remembrance clips from many of the people involved in the interviews, though of course, they weren't the actual people but rather, the actors who were portraying them in the film.

Frank Langella does a stellar job as Richard Nixon. Any president is a very public figure, but Nixon is particularly so, and I thought Langella did a good job of capturing the essence of Nixon (at least from what I know having seen news footage and such) without resorting to any caricature moves.

Michael Sheen is terrific as David Frost. I had also really enjoyed his performance as Tony Blair in "The Queen". The next role that I'm looking forward to seeing him in will not be when he's playing yet another real-life famous English personality - he will be playing The Cheshire Cat as part of Tim Burton's eclectic cast on "Alice in Wonderland". That film sounds like an acid trip in the making.

The film is based on a stage play, and Frank Langella and Michael Sheen were brought back to play the same characters in the film version. Langella won a Tony for his performance.

Kevin Bacon also does a good job as Nixon's former Chief of Staff.

Here's an interview with David Frost from last October prior to the film's official premiere.

Here's the website about the original interviews, which can be purchased on DVD.

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