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Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 04/21/2009 Run time: 123 minutes Rating: R
Sounds like a good match: a historical drama from the author of The Queen, but with an American subject in the generational wheelhouse of director Ron Howard. And so Peter Morgan's Tony-winning play morphs into a Hollywood movie under the wing of the Apollo 13 guy. Morgan's subject is a curious moment of post-Watergate shakeout: British TV host David Frost's long-form interviews with ex-President Richard Nixon, conducted in 1977. It was a big ratings success at the time, justifying the somewhat controversial decision to cut an enormous check for Nixon's services. The movie adds a mockumentary note to the otherwise straightforward style, having direct-to-camera addresses from various aides to Frost and Nixon (played by the likes of Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Bacon); these basically tell us things we already glean from the rest of the movie, adding unnecessary melodrama and upping the stakes. In this curious scheme, the success of Frost's career, which could bellyflop if he doesn't get something worthwhile out of the cagey, long-winded Nixon, is given somewhat more weight than the actual revelations of the interviews. Even with these questionable storytelling decisions, there's still the spectacle of two actors going at it hammer and tongs, and on that level the movie offers some heat. Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair not only in The Queen but also in another Morgan-scripted project, The Deal, is adept at catching David Frost's blow-dried charm, as well as the determination beneath it. Frank Langella's physical performance as Nixon is superb, and he certainly can be a commanding actor, though veteran Nixon-watchers might find that he misses a certain depth of self-pity in the man. Both actors were retained from the original stage production, a rare thing in Hollywood--and probably Howard's best decision of the project. --Robert Horton
- Histoical Event Shown Warts and All - A Must Buy
I have known of David Frost since the time of TWTWTW - That Was The Week That Was when he appeared with the likes of John Cleese and the Two Ronnies. FrostNixon is of course a dramatisation of an already dramatic event - David Frost interviewing the then disgraced ex-president Nixon. It shows a no holds barred Nixon getting the upper hand, by far, in the interviews with an apparantly inept Frost, (who, at the time, was mostly known as a "Chat" show host) until Nixon finally succumbs to Frosts probing questions on the background to the Watergate conspiracy. The film is a true testament to the events, as verified by David Frost himself with some very fine acting by the cast. This is without a doubt the finest film that Ron Howard has directed to date and gives a true look into the events at the time. The Blu Ray copy I have is faultless in both picture and soung quality and includes a couple of extras on Nixon which are gems. 5 star plus....more info
- A masterpiece
Amazing film! Moving, thought-provoking and not a single dull moment. Frank Langella was brilliant, as well as the other actors in this mega-star cast. I was drawn to the movie because I remember the impression it left on me when my mother cried during Nixon's resignation speech. I was too young to understand the actual scenario, but it always stuck with me when she explained to me that it was a major event in history, and a very devastating one.
I agree: this is Ron Howard's finest film yet. It's also one of the best movies I've ever seen....more info
- Flat and uncompelling
The drama behind a Popular Non-American TV Host like David Frost, trying to wrest a criminal confession out of disgraced Republican President, Richard M. Nixon was hardly suspenseful or even compelling viewing when it first happened. Getting Nixon to expose himself with that single mad Colonel Nathan Jessup admission (Which I won't divulge here. Think A FEW GOOD MEN.) was hardly surprising considering his meglomanical personality. But, to write a play about it (I had no idea there was one), and then use that play as the basis for a screenplay is really trying to pull something grand out of a small historical Television event. It was no big deal at the time, and is now only a small footnote in the entire history of The Watergate Scandal. This film also reminded me of Clooney's GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, which I felt looked great, but also contained a lot of empty conflict only to arrive at another small media event. There isn't a very compelling drama leading up to the big showdown interview between the two combatants. Director Ron Howard tries to fuel the non-drama with some nice montage work ala Oliver Stone, providing some brief Watergate history and Frost's team research into the whole affair. He also adds a heart thumping dramatic score to build suspense. It's a little overwrought and at times, distracting. But, the entire drama of a Pop TV icon going toe-to-toe with a very intelligent self-destructive politician is hardly edge-of-your-seat material for a two hour film. I don't even know if it's even much of an important footnote in the entire Nixonian debacle.
The performances feel like smarmy Saturday Night Live parodies. Frank Langela tries too hard to do an imitation of Nixon, instead of acting him. Sorry film critics, he doesn't sound or behave in any way like Nixon. At times, his vocalization of Nixon was just downright annoying. Imitations and impressions are a big no-no in the craft of acting. Anthony Hopkins did a much better job of acting Richard Nixon, instead of trying to do an imitation or an impression of him. Even though Hopkins looked nothing like Nixon, not once did I believe I was watching Hopkins the actor, imitating Nixon. He embodies Nixon. Of course, working out with Oliver Stone's amazing screenplay went a long long way to provide Hopkins with some really juicy hardcore dialogue to bend his choppers around. Langela must have known comparisons would be forthcoming. Langela's performance is brave, and he has a few terrific moments as Nixon, but they're not enough to push the lack of drama into a great acting vehicle. Part of the fault lies with the director and the screenwriter. The conflict here is just not that compelling. Ho-hum.
Michael Sheen is not bad. However, he looks and feels more like Austin Powers than David Frost. The film has a lot of bad British wigs that look like bad British haircuts. (Maybe the most realistic part of the production.) And not once did I believe I was watching David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon.
Stick with the Original Frost/Nixon Interviews. Pieces of them are included on the DVD Extras. But, not enough to warrant a purchase.
Fairly overrated, very disappointing, and surely one of Ron Howard's lesser films.
3 Stars for the some nice production design, decent direction, and for some interesting history leading up to the event. But, not enough compelling drama, and too many parody performances to propel this into Classic film status.
Rent or buy Oliver Stone's NIXON, Michael Mann's THE INSIDER, and Rob Reiner's A FEW GOOD MEN instead. They're far better films with far more dramatic material. ...more info
- Nixon at his greediest
I enjoyed this movie and it was over before I knew it. Nixon is portrayed as someone olny interested in a fat cheque now that his presidency is over and a charming overseas reporter lines up the opportunity of a lifetime out of his own pocketbook. The pacing is interesting since both men are such opposites and Frost quickly realizes he needs to change strategies to come out of this w/ his career intact. Nixon's drinking and jabs show just how slimy and cloudy his thinking was while being totally paranoid and jealous of everyone around him.
Ron howard did another good job w/ this one. ...more info
- Why Langella did not get the Oscar is beyond me.
If you have seen the actual interviews, the actual tapes of the real Frost/Nixon encounters, and then you watch the movie (or if you were even luckier, as was my case to also see the Broadway play), you will realize the true genius in Frank Langella's interpretation.
He does not "impersonate" Nixon.
Instead, he "becomes" the former President; not imitating the whirlpool of emotions that spun out of those sessions but rather, living them, suffering them, feeling them as if it had been Langella himself the one going through the ordeal.
Other portrayers of Nixon (like Anthony Hopkins) come to mind and, when compared to Mr. Langella, fail miserably.
This was the role of a lifeetime and Langella embraced it with gusto, with passion, with professionalism, and gave it the best of what his craft had to offer.
In contrast, Michael Sheen overdoes his interpretation of Frost, although he does have his powerful and sometimes even moving moments.
Kevin Bacon remains a consistently good and reliable actor, although his part was too short and failed to give the film more of the benefit of his talent.
- Nothing new brought to the table. Xcess drama
You should just watch the original interview tapes.
But that wouldn't be as interesting you say, eh? The age of the adaptation has convinced many of that. It is far more enlightening to witness Nixon stumble over himself while in the real time original film than the expensively contrived parlor trick of Hollywood film making. I have yet to meet anyone who liked this movie for authentic reasons, for its own merit. Instead, everyone's opinion about the film is clich¨¦d from the back of the box (i.e. played Nixon well etc. I personally think Frost's character was the highlight of the film).
But one thing that sticks out above all else about the adaptation is the fact they exaggerated Nixon's internal feelings (they assume he felt that way). In you original, Nixon's soul is not on display like in the movie. But they knew that to make this movie stand out it would be necessary to represent, in this interview, Nixon's internal doubt and misery. Everyone loves to see the powerful fall from grace. ...more info
- Interesting during the interview portions
Some spoilers below:
This film takes a while to get going, focusing on a number of minor participants in the real-life drama surrounding interviewer David Frost's attempts to get interviews with Nixon a few years after his fall from grace. One has to be patient for a good 45 minutes or so, and then things start happening.
Once Frost starts drilling Nixon about his Watergate involvement and his incursions into Cambodia, the disgraced former president reveals his stubborn side and his belief that presidents are actually above the law. That Nixon does not remember a lengthy rant on the phone to Frost shows either that he's drinking too much or he's getting confused. Either way, Frank Langella does a fine job of showing his deterioration and disorientation.
And then it winds down and it's over. It's informative about our political history, but that's about it.
Consider the pedigree of the movie "Frost/Nixon": this is a film which is based on a play which is based on a TV interview. Here's why no straight thing could ever have been carved from such crooked timber:
Film and television are usually at their cheesiest when they cross over. When even a successful film produces a spin-off TV show, the result is usually of very poor quality. (Examples: "Fame", "Ferris Bueller", "In the Heat of the Night".) Worse, when Hollywood is truly stuck for ideas, the spin-off goes in the other direction: "Charlie's Angels", "The Incredible Hulk", "Dukes of Hazzard" are all dreadful films based on poor TV shows. "Frost/Nixon" is off to a bad start straight away because (i) the original material is not a TV show but merely a TV interview, and (ii) even that's been put through the strainer of being converted into a play.
What's that, I hear you object? "But the TV interview was real. And it was real in a way that `Dukes of Hazzard' could never be." I absolutely agree. So why wouldn't we just go and watch the *actual* TV interview, and not this twice-diluted recreation of it? This is the central problem with "Frost/Nixon: the movie". It never overcomes its own pointlessness. Its redundancy seeps through in every frame. Anyone who wants to find out what actually happened in this famous interview could simply go to the source material. It certainly contains dramatic moments. Why would anyone want to *re*-dramatize it?
Well, the answer, apparently, is that the movie can offer us something that the real interview can't. And here it is: we get to see the dramatic story of what happened behind the scenes. That is to say, we see two things: (i) Frost's attempts to get his TV show financed; and (ii) the manoeuvrings of both Frost's staff and Nixon's, focusing mainly of the research efforts of Frost's. So - if we grant that the reproduction of the interview itself is redundant, then we are left with a movie about researching and financing. Who wouldn't dash off to see that?
In fact, the filmmakers themselves seem quite conscious of the unexciting nature of the leftovers they have been lumbered with. There are constant efforts throughout to inject `dramatic' moments:
1. Witness David Frost reaching for a glass of water. (The close-up movement of his arm is filmed in slow motion while tense music underscores the significance of the moment.)
2. Watch as Nixon's team and Frost's team line up and eye each other across the living room. If this were a hushed saloon, there could easily be a gunfight. (Except that it's not and therefore there won't be.)
3. Listen as Kevin Bacon compares the opening sentences of the interview to the first punches in a prize-fight. Meanwhile the actor playing his counterpart on Frost's team declares: `It was horrifying ... just horrifying!'
4. Take note as Frost is counselled by his staff to `Never forget ... you are in there with a *major* operator.'
5. Whistle at the close-up of Frost going for broke by flinging his clipboard of questions onto the floor (which didn't happen in the real interview).
6. Listen as Nixon growls down the phone to Frost: `I shall be your fiercest adversary ... when the time comes, I'm going to be focused and ready for battle.' (Of course, the confrontation took place in a pair of armchairs, so as epic battles go, it's hardly Stalingrad.)
Scenes in the movie are interspersed with post-interview interviews with the staff on both Frost and Nixon's team. But wait. Those interviews weren't with real people. They were with the actors, who continued to play real people. This supposedly `clever' device for adding extra drama falls on its face because there are only two possibilities here: either the real Frost-Nixon staff never said these words on camera, in which case the filmmakers of "Frost/Nixon" are just making it up; or else they did say these words on camera, in which case - again - why wouldn't we be looking at the original footage? Isn't this just more redundancy? (And in case anyone thinks that intercutting real interviews into a movie is too incongruent, recall that Warren Beatty's film "Reds" won a Best Picture Oscar while using precisely this approach.)
It's painful watching a film like "Frost/Nixon" which is so gravid with its own self-importance, and yet at the same time so encumbered by its own emptiness. At the close of the film a character speaks the following astonishing verdict to camera:
"The rest of the project and its failings would not only be forgotten: in time, they would totally cease to exist."
Really? One wonders where to begin with this remarkably incautious statement. Should a major media event's failings be allowed to be airbushed from our collective memory? If so, what does that say about the supposedly ever-vigilant media itself? And, if one recalls Orwell, this precept - that an event which is forgotten about is one which has ceased to exist - was a totalitarian principle.
So if we are prepared to admit that the Nixon interview hardly achieved anything, why make a movie which so plainly tries to confect it as some sort of triumph? (By the movie's own admission, Frost failed in three out of the four sessions.) The film - sure enough - ends with nothing more than the `satisfaction' of the nation seeing of a guilty-looking Nixon. He didn't look guilty before? And isn't it fair to say that a guilty person always comes across looking morally better for having admitted guilt than having refused to? The film seems to have missed its own point here: how do we know that the negative image of a guilty Nixon was not drowned out by the more perniciously humanising image of a contrite and anguished Nixon? If that's a win, it's pretty thin.
In a famous book published in 1960, the American historian Daniel J. Boorstin wrote of the increasing (and damaging) dominance in American culture of what he called the "pseudo-event". He meant, among other things, that newspapers and other media were beginning to report on things which were not substantial occurrences. He listed four criteria which defined a pseudo-event. Here's number one:
"It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted or incited it. Typically it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview."
[Boorstin, "The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream", Antheneum, New York, 1962, p. 11]
So here is the plain truth. The Vietnam War was an event. The Watergate Scandal was an event. But David Frost's interview with Richard Nixon was not an event: rather, it was a footnote to events. Making a movie of a play based on this subject matter meant creating a footnote to a footnote to a footnote ... except that herein the filmmakers were desperately trying to persuade us that the interview *was* an earthquake.
So - what next? Will a superstructure of absent dramatic tension and no historical significance be erected around ... "Couric/Palin"? (After "Frost/Nixon", don't laugh.)
- Solid Performance on All Parts
Frost Nixon was an excellent film about the story behind the David Frost interview of Richard Nixon that took place a couple years after his resignation from office. Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost) give masterful performances that capture the viewer from the opening scene. I did not know what happened in this true story depiction before I started watching and was extremely pleased by such an exceptional film that told what happened.
The movie is rated R but the only reason is probably the two "F" words in it. Otherwise I think this is a film that anyone in the family could watch that enjoys learning about history. The movie is not biased politically more than what the reporters and political staffers would have been at the time. This really was a great film and it is highly recommended ...more info
- The Blair Switch project
You would think that the subject matter would be quite dry for a film, but the pace is good and the plot flies along. The performances are excellent, although you cant get quite away from the thought that Sheens' David Frost IS Tony Blair, its hard to believe the loveable TV buffoon from "Through the Keyhole" and "Good Morning Britain" was once some sort of journalistic superstar.
I'm no student of this particular historical period, and I'm sure that some dramatic license must have been used, but the power of the performances and the pace of the film always keep you engaged. I'm sure that there are many Prime Ministers, Taoiseachs and Presidents that have got away with more, but have not been caught!
A highly enjoyable film, and heartily recommended.
- Somewhat Over The Top...
Frank Langella turned in a good performance, but he was by no means truly 'being' Richard Nixon. The stereotypical image of Nixon as the hunched over, brooding character has been done so many times before, that it would be interesting to see someone really attempt to play him as he really was.
That being said, it was entertaining at times and the actors did a good job. However, many liberties were taken with history and it wasn't all quite as it was protrayed. Just be prepared to see a very loosely based portrayal of actual history. In reality about 2.5 stars for me....more info
- The Rise and Fall of Showmen
FROST/NIXON is one of the most successful screen adaptations of a play yet made. Perhaps that is due in part to the fact that the popular stage play by Peter Morgan was revised for the screen by the playwright, but it is also to the credit of director Ron Howard who managed to suffuse the 'play as movie' with such atmosphere and feeling of spontaneity that the rather long movie seems to whisk by more rapidly than history!
Everyone knows of the infamous David Frost interview with Richard Nixon after Nixon had resigned office and was living in semi-seclusion in San Clemente, California, a bitter man struggling with the demons not only form the recent past but also form his childhood. Frost took on the challenge to bring the perpetrator of the Watergate scandal to his knees to satisfy the American public's need for retribution, and in conducting these interviews he did indeed achieve that. The story is as much a character study of Frost as it is of Nixon and the parallels writer Morgan uncovers makes the film far more than a quasi-documentary. This is real drama played for all it's worth.
Frank Langella is unforgettable in his portrayal of Nixon as is Michael Sheen as Frost, each actor having played the roles on Broadway and transferring that depth of understanding to the screen. The surprise in this film is the use of the peripheral cast of characters - Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen, and Toby Jones - a group of actors who light the darker corners of the story with aplomb.
FROST/NIXON should be required viewing for every Political Science major in our schools - and hopefully will urge the nation to find a similar manner to bring closure to the strangely coincidental machinations of the recent Bush administration crimes. Grady Harp, April 09...more info
- Langella Crawls Under Nixon's Skin
First off, see this film, but only when you're in the frame of mind to pay attention to dialog and nuances. It's talky. But in the talk is all the drama. Secondly, it's an acting tour de force. How did Langella do it?
I initially resisted seeing this film. After all, I was one of those 45 million Americans who sat riveted for the original Frost/Nixon interviews. I still remember the quiet, but titanic battle of wits between the TV entertainer and the wily ex-President, ending in the jaw dropping admission and near-apology to the American people. It was the stuff of history, and of legend.
Films about real people are always a dice throw, especially famous people you think you know so well. Nixion, in particular, fascinates Hollywood directors. We've already seen Anthony Hopkins take on Tricky Dick. What was Frank Langella going to do with him?
What Frank Langella accomplishes in the film is to crawl inside Nixon's skin, into his very core, and manifest the complex emotions with subtle nuances. He captures a range of emotions with the squint of an eye, twitch of the mouth, the iron clad sense of self and power beneath the camera-ready smile. It is virtuosity.
Michael Sheen as Frost is good, but he has a bit of room to play. I remember the real David Frost from back in the day. He came to American TV as a whiz kid, quickly fizzled, and around the time of Frost/Nixon was seen as a flash in the pan. Nobody much remembers the 1970's David Frost -not as much as everybody remembers Richard Nixon. Sheen captures the determined careerism, the sort of smarmy charm and playboy rep Frost had back then. His Frost is easy to underestimate. Sheen nails him.
As I remember the real Frost/Nixon interview, Frost was never a light weight and Nixon was actually funny and charming. But during that last hour, the Watergate hour, things got down to street fighting level. It ended, just as this film ends, with a disgraced American President finally admitting he let his people and his country down.
I found it personally ironic. I told friends at the time after Frost/Nixon aired - Richard Nixon had the wrong job. He should have been a Sunday morning political pundit. But never the President. In Ron Howard's fictional film, it sounded like Richard Nixon came to the same conclusion I did. ...more info
- Incisive Look Into Frost/Nixon Interviews
Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon focuses on the period after Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency, and leading up to the Frost Nixon interview. The movie starts off with the world's and Frost's fascination with Nixon's resignation and the lengths he went to secure Nixon as an interview subject. Frost bet not only his career on the interviews but his life as well. He put all his assets on the line, and borrowed from all his friends to pay the $600,000 Nixon (and his agents) asked for.
Part of Frosts preparation for the interviews was to hire researchers for background on Nixon and to formulate the questions asked during the interviews. The researchers, played by Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell add not only some comic relief, but provide a behind the scenes look at the pressure they were under and exerted on Frost to, not just interview Nixon but to push him and ask the hard questions, to at least try for some accountability from Nixon, which of course resulted in Nixon blurting out that if the President does something it makes it legal.
From Nixon's point of view we're shown his isolation, even when he's surrounded by aides, family, friends and supporters. We're also given a window into Nixon's insecurities with a drunken phone call to Frost, and Nixon rails on about the injustices and perceived slights he suffered throughout his life at the hands of others. Nixon also tried to get the psychological edge on Frost by asking off-kilter questions right before taping would begin, such as asking Frost if he had fornicated the night before, which was a famously well known anecdote at the time.
When I first saw the previews of Frost/Nixon I cringed when I saw Frank Langella as Nixon because it looked like a caricature. But that was before seeing the movie. Langella merges so successfully with Nixon that you cease to think of him doing a character but of personifying Nixon.
Ron Howard isn't a flashy director, he uses special effects only when necessary to the plot, and he isn't given to using the usual directors devices to add false emotion to a scene, instead he trusts the story, he trusts that the drama of the situations to carry the viewer interest, to provide them with an emotionally satisfying experience. Howard is one of the best directors working today, he consistently gets solid performances from his actors. The subject matter he chooses to direct is diverse and compelling. All of which is a far cry from his directorial debut of Eat My Dust.
The bonus features include, deleted scenes, a making of featurette, there's a short documentary look at the actual interviews as compared to the dramatized interviews, and there's a featurette that's bit of a propaganda for the Nixon library. I usually don't like the commentaries feature on movies, I usually find the insights not all that insightful but Ron Howard's commentary on this is interesting and adds to the viewing of the movie....more info
- Kind of compelling in spite of oversimplification
Frost/Nixon recounts the drama behind the 1977 interview of resigned president Richard Nixon by British interview David Frost. Taking place just 3 years after Nixon resigned office in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the interview was chance for Nixon to regain public attention and perhaps even burnish his dulled reputation. Frost, at least as depicted in the movie, is on the down side of a career of inconsequential interviews. Both men have everything riding on the outcome.
Ron Howard gives us a very interesting and very watchable movie about the two men at the center of this drama. Unfortunately, he seems to do this by simplifying characters and jamming the plot through the Hollywood cliche machine. Frost becomes a womanizing nitwit who eschew research. Nixon is money-hungry, wily and manipulative. As Frost's first interviews go badly, Howard has Frost go through an instant transformation into a night owl boning up on Watergate trivia. This sort of plot is so old what as to have been laughable. I am dying to watch the original interview to see how badly Howerd's adaptation misconstrues the original.
Though Frank Langella is too old to be playing Nixon, he captured some of the man's awkward intensity. The prosthetic nose didn't hurt. Michael Sheen basically reprised his role as the affable Tony Blair in "The Queen, " playing he affable David Frost. He seemed to have missed Frost's urbane wittiness playing him as wide-eyed and confused. The best role went to Kevin Bacon as a steely-eyed Nixon aide, who with one look could blister the paint off walls. Sam Rockwell, playing anti-Nixon researcher James Reston Jr., decided to channel Rick Moranis of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" fame. This was unfortunate, missed opportunities to a) explain why so many people loathed Nixon, and b) demonstrate why anti-Nixon paranoia might have been ill-founded.
Though the film was entertaining enough, the whiff of historical revision make me reluctant to endorse it wholeheartedly. Any parallels to the recently departed Bush administration are too late to matter. All in all, a stale and only partially satisfying experience.
- 4.5 Stars: Compelling performances drive a thoughtful film.
DISCLAIMER: If you really want to know what happened during the David Frost/Richard Nixon interviews, watch the actual interview footage. It's available on DVD. Nothing reproduced in Hollywood can replace true historical journalism.
That being said, FROST/NIXON should at least spark interest in audiences who aren't quite familiar with the interviews (like myself). The plot is fairly simple: British talk show host David Frost decides to get Richard Nixon to sit down with him for a series of interviews. Everyone's dead-set against it, but Frost is determined to gain back his reputation, and Nixon is determined to gain a little money.
Howard's direction is stellar, and the script is great, but the movie's true strength lies in its choice of actors. Michael Sheen is terrific as Frost; we can almost ignore his UNDERWORLD roles. He exudes charm and charisma and all the failings that go with tackling a superior foe. Frank Langella as Nixon is simply fantastic; he creates a complex and sympathetic character. Of the supporting cast, Kevin Bacon (as Nixon's loyal sidekick) and Sam Rockwell (as one of Frost's chief investigators) are the standouts. Oliver Platt adds a bit of extra charm, as he does to every film. However, of course, it's the two leads who draw the most attention, and deservedly so. FROST/NIXON is, if nothing else, a great film, one that will hopefully inspire viewers to expand their political knowledge by seeking out the genuine "Frost/Nixon" interviews....more info
- Le triomphe de l'audace journalistique
Tout d'abord au stricte plan documentaire, ce film fut une r¨¦v¨¦lation pour moi. Nixon avait une personnalit¨¦ "surprenante". Cet homme poss¨¦dait un charme certain. Mais quel individu retors!
Et que dire de Frost: un journaliste que d'aucuns qualifieraient de superficiel--de showbiz star. Mais voyez tous les risques financiers qu'il prend et les risques de br?ler son futur ¨¤ jamais. Et quel homme merveilleux, l'id¨¦aliste qui aimerait entendre Nixon dire: "je regrette, j'ai fait une erreur, le Watergate, j'en suis le responsable au premier chef".
Quant au plan artistique... c'est du grand cin¨¦ma: le r¨¦alisateur recr¨¦e une atmosph¨¨re telle que vous voyez ces deux protagonistes, Nixon et Frost, plus vrai que nature.
Je n'en dis pas plus!
Fernand Falardeau...more info
- Timely & Surprisingly Strong Adaptation of the Story Behind the Frost/Nixon Interviews.
Ron Howard brings the stage play "Frost/Nixon" by Peter Morgan to the screen, retaining the two lead actors in their roles as British talk show host David Frost and former American President Richard Nixon, whom Frost interviewed for 6 hours of television in 1977. When the President resigned on the heels of the Watergate scandal in 1974, David Frost (Michael Sheen) thought an interview with Nixon would make great television. President Nixon (Frank Langella) thought it would give him an opportunity to say his piece without having to answer tough questions. But the television networks weren't interested, because Nixon was being paid. It took years for Frost to pull together enough money to syndicate the show himself. The famous interviews aired in May 1977 to great success.
"Frost/Nixon" is about why the people involved were so committed to the project as much as it is about the interviews. The screenplay fleshes out the supporting cast, the research teams of both Frost and Nixon, more than the play. It replaces the play's narration with interview-style footage of the personnel that gives the impression of being made for a documentary years after the action took place. So the narrative thread and a pseudo-documentary combine to tell the story. Frost and Nixon are both ambitious men from modest backgrounds. Frost is a showman by trade, not viewed as weighty enough to interview the disgraced former President. Even his researchers Bob Zelnick (Oliver Platt) and Jim Reston (Sam Rockwell) have doubts. And Frost can't raise the money.
Nixon's self-righteous and intensely loyal Chief of Staff Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) is confident that Frost is no match for Nixon's experience and intellect, and this will be a chance for the former President to rehabilitate his image. Kevin Bacon is fantastic, as he makes the audience empathize with a man whom we probably don't like very much. For better or worse, Richard Nixon is posthumously being defined by movies and television, and I'm sure that Frank Langella's revelatory performance in "Frost/Nixon" will be one of the defining images, along with Anthony Hopkins' in Oliver Stone's Nixon.
The real Frost/Nixon interviews took place in 12 sessions, not the 4 we see in the film. The content of the interviews in the film are nearly the real thing, but I'm not sure how much the rest of the story has been embellished. Frost's struggles in the early interviews seem to have been exaggerated, though I gather that his financial difficulties were not. Nevertheless, "Frost/Nixon" is a thoughtful exploration, not only of the character of Richard Nixon, but the reductive power of television, the motives of its participants, and a timely commentary on the abuse of power by public officials. I'm impressed with Ron Howard's ability to adapt the play so effectively to the screen. He is often criticized for avoiding edgy material or simply not being good at it, but "Frost/Nixon" defies that perception.
The DVD (Universal 2009): There are 3 featurettes, 7 deleted scenes (22 min), and a feature commentary with director Ron Howard. "The Making of Frost/Nixon" (22 min) is presented in 4 parts: The Cast, in which the cast talk about the real people they play, and Ron Howard talks about creating an ensemble cast, The Costumes, discussed by designer Daniel Orlando, The Production Design, with Michael Corenblith, The Shooting Style, with cinematographer Salvatore Totino. "The Nixon Library" (6 min) interviews John H. Taylor, the Executive Director of the Library. In "The Real Interview" (7 1/2 min), cast and crew recall their experiences watching the interview on TV in 1977. The audio commentary by Ron Howard is fairly constant. He talks about his enthusiasm for the play, fleshing out the supporting characters, filming in 38 days, some stylistic elements, the real people whom he talked to before portraying them on film, and more. Subtitles for the film available in English SDH, Spanish, and French. Dubbing available in Spanish and French. ...more info
- Near Perfect Filmmaking
After the Watergate scandal and his subsequent resignation, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) is living in relative seclusion back in California. But, following a lucrative interview offer from British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), Nixon sees an opportunity not only to make some easy money but to return himself to the public spotlight. Meanwhile Frost, best known for chatting with celebrity lightweights, views this as a chance to gain fame and respectability as a journalist in America.
Frost is encouraged by his research aides to go hard after Nixon. But instead Frost throws softballs for the first three interview segments and is easily overwhelmed by his more experienced adversary. Then, on the night before the final interview, Frost receives a strange phone call from Nixon, who basically goes off on a drunken rant. Frost, smelling blood, decides to take a more aggressive approach and on the final day Nixon ends up making humiliating admissions about his role in the Watergate cover-up, perhaps cementing his tarnished legacy in American politics.
How much you enjoy this movie will probably relate to how much interest you have in the subject matter. But there is no doubt that this is one of those rare motion pictures that reaches near perfection in terms in filmmaking. The acting, especially by Langella, is superb and the sense of dramatic timing is impeccable. The small details were also well handled, such as film's spot on depiction of the 70's and Nixon's bizarre fascination with Frost's Italian leather shoes. This is probably the best directorial outing in Ron Howard's career. Highly recommended....more info
- Pretty interesting.
I missed "Frost/Nixon" when it was out in theaters. I heard from one of my friends saying that he liked it, and my parents loved the movie a lot. So when I watched "Frost/Nixon," I was very happy that the people who I know real well saw it recommended it for me and then I realized they were right.
True story, I knew Frank Langella from "Superman Returns" and this may sound very weird, I saw him one time. So ever since then, I try to at least see a few of his movies. And I'm at least thankful that I saw "Frost/Nixon." This movie takes me back in time where I learned about President Nixon and the Watergate Scandel when I was learning American History.
"Frost/Nixon" goes through the life of President Richard Nixon and how he met David Frost. This movie talks about the Watergate Scandel and how President Nixon gets interviewed by David Frost. At first the story gets a bit shaky and slow but things turn better in the end. And I at least enjoyed it, for one.
I liked the fact that I learned some stuff about President Nixon and yes, he was arguably the worst President of the United States. However, what I'm really surprised is that they didn't explain how he died and he became famous ever since he died. I'm at least happy that they explained his death before the end credits during the aftermath. After all, it's a much better movie than "W." whereas "W." took a good idea of President Bush's life but they left some important stuff out.
The Blu-Ray shows a lot of special features, such as Deleted Scenes, "Discovering Secrets," and The Making of "Frost/Nixon." The interviews are as important if you want to broaden up your American History. Otherwise, do your research on wikipedia.
If you like to learn more about President Richard Nixon, then I highly recommend this movie....more info
- Great movie, questionable history
As historical fiction, this film is wonderful. I'm a history buff and I love seeing these critical moments in history dramatized. However, audiences that normally would never watch a documentary about Watergate can enjoy this film. The Nixon/Frost interviews are not the obvious choice for a historical drama about Nixon (the Watergate scandal itself seems the more obvious choice, as in "All the President's Men"). Yet, this film makes the run-up to the interview and the interview itself as dramatic as the best courtroom drama. By the time Nixon/Langella states that "If the president does it, then it's not illegal", the tension in the film is palpable.
Langella (Nixon) and Sheen (Frost) give great performances. Langella comes across as suitably awkward and bitter (there is one great scene in which Nixon rants against the journalists and elites). This scene is reminiscent of Rick Perlstein's portrayal of a Nixon who divided the world into "Franklins" (elitists) and "Orthogonians" like Nixon (who came from poor backgrounds and were never liked). The guy even looks like Nixon! For his part, Sheen captures Frost well as light-hearted but also serious.
As much as I liked the film, as other reviewers have noted it contains some glaring historical accuracies, for which I reduced the film's rating by a star. Normally, I can tolerate a few historical inaccuracies in in historical fiction, but "Frost/Nixon" goes a bit too far. At the end of the interview, the film has Nixon saying he "was involved in a 'cover-up,' as you call it." However, in the historical interview, Nixon actually said, "You're wanting to me to say that I participated in an illegal cover-up. No!" That one change casts an enormously different light on the interview and Nixon. I worry that many people who watch the film may not be aware of the change and believe that Nixon actually admitted to wrongdoing.
For viewers interested in the Nixon presidency and Watergate, be sure to check out:
- All the President's Men (Two-Disc Special Edition) (the classic film about Watergate)
- Rick Perlstein's new book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
- and, of course, the actual Nixon-Frost interviews (available on youtube)...more info
- Looking For Nixon
Adapted from the fairly successful stage play, FROST/NIXON is a fictionalized account of the interview process and sessions that took place between world media darling David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) in 1977. The film follows Frost as he seeks to get back into the big time (television in America) by gaining an exclusive set of interviews with Nixon to be broadcast on network television. Nixon has been living in relative seclusion since resigning from the Presidency, but he, too, longs to be in the limelight again. After meeting Frost, Nixon and his staff believe the man to be a journalistic lightweight and believe that the interviews will be Nixon's catalyst for once again entering into power. Even though he spent a lot of time working and had an amazing research staff, Nixon controls each of the first three days of shooting. However, (in a completely fictionalized scene) the night before the final interview Frost receives a telephone call from a drunken Nixon. The call reveals a deeply personal side of Nixon, but also encourages Frost to be more aggressive during the final day of taping in which he ends up taunting Nixon into a confession-of-sorts about Watergate and the cover-up.
I have to admit that I was a bit leery about seeing FROST/NIXON. I had heard wonderful things about the acting, but that Nixon was unfairly portrayed as an evil mastermind. The overall tone of the film is definitely NOT sympathetic to Richard Nixon. Watching the film I got the distinct impression that director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan wanted the audience to have the point of view of Frost's research team, James Reston, Jr. (Sam Rockwell) and Bob Zelnick (Oliver Platt).
Despite the overall tone, the film actually does present a decent portrayal of Nixon. Nixon was ambitious and sometimes almost ruthless. However, he was also a decent American who overcame some incredible odds. He loved his country and his family and was a master orator and debater. Frank Langella, reprising the role from Broadway, gives one of the most humanizing examples of Nixon ever seen in a Hollywood film. In most movies, Nixon's foibles and are exaggerated and he is presented as a caricature. Langella doesn't do this and offers viewers a picture of Nixon that most people would rather reject, that of a human being.
I really enjoyed FROST/NIXON. It is a drama and there are moments that are drawn out of effect. Also, the script is a tad too tidy, as though it was put together using a by-the-numbers formula for dramatic movies. Also, even though the movie does offer the closest thing to the "real" Nixon that has been seen on screen, the overall negative tone of the film towards Nixon will probably turn some people off. Like W., FROST/NIXON people on the far left of the political spectrum will probably find the movie too light on Nixon, while those on the far right will find it too harsh and negative. The truth is that Langella's Nixon actually falls somewhere inbetween and is closer to the real Richard Nixon than either side wants people to believe.
Recommended for modern history buffs and those who enjoy good, conversational dramas....more info
- One the Best Films of Last Year!
Once you see Frank Langella as the late disgraced President Richard Nixon, you'll wonder why he lost the Oscar when it was so deserving. Maybe it's because he performed the role on stage with Michael Sheen who deserved an nomination for playing Sir David Frost. Sheen was recently honored with an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire). Maybe it's a consolation prize but he also played Frost on stage with Langella as Nixon. They brought the stage to film with thanks to seventies icon actor turned director Ron Howard. This film is under-stated and highly ignored at the Box Office. Despite it's top notch cast, the movie appeared in the shadows of other films but no less brilliant. There are times when you even might shed a tear for Nixon with Langella's performance and that's magic. Frank Langella humanizes Nixon on film into a full-dimensional character rather than caricature. Michael Sheen OBE equally does the same for Sir David Frost who interviewed the likes of the Bee Gees and other seventy icons. As the interviewer, Frost has the difficult job of bringing tough questions against Nixon. I loved Kevin Bacon as Nixon's right-hand man and Patty McCormack as his wife but I thought that they should have used her more. Bacon is a surprisingly ally in Nixon's corner who is very protective of the man despite his faults. Still it's Frost and Nixon in a tough interview, the preparations, and funding since nobody in Hollywood wanted to touch the Nixon interview. I only saw the Wrestler but I have to admit this film made me root for Frank Langella on Oscar night. Regardless, he is one of America's finest stage actors....more info
- very interesting slice of history
The best thing about this is Langella's acting. He really becomes Nixon, at least as I remember him: a gruff, brilliant, flawed man who is aware of his essential unattractiveness yet still doggedly working away. I did not think that Sheen was anywhere near as good, indeed I think that it made him look like more of a light weight than the real Frost is.
That being said, you get a very good flavor for the time - post-Watergate, when the GOP is re-grouping before the Reagan era and is conflict with the post-60s left. Nixon is trying to spin, to leave a legacy idea of himself, and Frost is trying for a scoop. The most interesting background that I did not know was how the TV industry worked and the risks that Frost took on. There is also the conflict between Frost and the "professional intellectuals" he has hired to help him.
I admit that I did not find Nixon's sudden confession of responsibility as all that comprehensible. Sure, he was surprised, but something came out in the real interviews that made him appear more human. The film also makes it look like a duel between them, which given Nixon's competitiveness may be true, but it seemed artificial to me, like a fictional device.
Recommended. It is very stimulating and moving....more info
- Great work
Ron Howard does a superb job in this adaption of the David Frost/Richard Nixon interviews. Frank Langella does a wonderful job as the disgraced ex-president trying to exonerate himself on tv while Sheen plays Frost, a talented but somewhat eccentric Australian tv personality trying to make it big in the U.S.
The film may take some liberties with what actually happened behind scenes but never fails to deliver on its goal. This film should have garnered more awards for Howard does a great job showcasing the actors' talents. If you ask me, this film should have taken the best picture award rather than Slumdog....more info
- One of Howard's very best.
I went to see this movie based on the reviews and the people involved (star and director) but after watching it I realize the subject matter is the least relevant thing about it. Simply put, this is a terrific character study that just happens to be about a former president and a celebrity interviewer, very much unlike, say, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BEJAMIN BUTTON which is all about its subject matter and a screenplay that's about nothing. I would have never imagined a portion of David Frost's life would make a worthwhile movie but the sections of this movie dedicated solely to him are just as interesting as Nixon's even though Michael Sheen sounds just like Austin Powers. In conclusion, this is a must see film even if neither Frost not Nixon sound like a couple of people you'd care to spend a couple of hours watching.
- Uhhhh...ooooohhhh yeeeaaaah that's the stuff. Stick it to `im Frost...uuggggghhhhh....
The 60s were not a good time in American History for presidents. Actually they weren't a good time in American History period, and yet utterly insane liberals just can't leave them alone. And for whatever reason the focal point of their fascination with this turbulent decade is Richard Millhouse Nixon. Honestly, what was this man's crime besides being a Republican?
He tried to steal an election, yes, but if you think he's the only one who's tried and not only gotten away with it you are a na?ve little girly man! JFK did, whether you like to admit it or not, steal the election in Illinois with the help of the Mafia. And yet, libs seem to be fine with that. And in more recent history, BH (Barack HUSSEIN Obama) stole the US election with help from illegal immigrants which it has been proven voted not only illegally but multiple times, the black panthers which showed up at polling places frightening people into voting for BHO, and ACORN who registered the same people to vote repeatedly!
However, the name of this film is not O'Reilly/Obama (but oh how I wish it was) but instead, Frost/Nixon. Let me begin this review proper by saying that this is utterly and unequivocally the most boring film you will EVER watch. First of all, the actual Frost/Nixon interviews, if you are really sadomasochistic enough to want to watch them, are already available on DVD. So why anyone would want to see a 2 hour long dramatic reenactment?
The film begins in 1976 as David Frost, played by Michael Sheen, is apparently some kind of popular limey TV personality. While on the crapper one day he just suddenly decides to interview Nixon, which is not really that entertaining for an opening plot point. It seems an impossible feat, but Swifty Lazar (played by some Broadway fruit named Toby Jones) convinces Nixon, played by Frank Langella whoever that is, to do it by telling him he'll make a lot of money. And since Nixon is a money hungry crook (remember?) this is all it takes. Also, Kevin Bacon appears in a role that no one cares about.
After Nixon agrees to do it, we pretty much get to the meat of this film, two men trying to one-up each other when it comes to exaggerated play acting. No joke; Langella's impersonation of Nixon is about the hammiest thing I've ever seen. Honestly, I've seen 2bit stand up comics doing a better job with their "I am not a crrrooook" shtick. And I'd sure as hell rather watch that than this. Basically, the film's goal was to portray Nixon as a raving lunatic, mad with power. However, while watching this film, faux-Nixon's megalomania reminded me more so of BO. It's that, "I'm the president and I'll do whatever I want" type of dictatorial aura put off by the both of them that really had me going.
No here's the part of the review where I'm going to have to let you in on a little Operation Watchdog secret. I happen to be a High School Political Science teacher. I knew this film would be nothing more than rubbish, but I like to make class as fun as possible, so with the permission of the school principle and the parents of my students, I arranged a little field trip to the local movie theatre where we actually watched this film. My senior class pupils were all for it since it got them out of class (we went to an afternoon matinee) and I figured it would help them learn about politics in a more realistic, hands on type of environment.
I was a fool!
Pretty much as soon as the credits were finished rolling, the cast of characters all began to blurt out streams of profanity, almost as if it was a contest to see who could be the most loathsome. My female pupils got very red faced as some of this profanity was not appropriate for the ears of ladies. Meanwhile, some of my male students got a little rowdy and started giggling and repeating the words. I assume this is the first time they even heard most of these they were so vulgar.
I obviously can't repeat it here, nor would I want to, but here's a little rundown of just what I CAN REMEMBER:
F-bombs, MF-bombs, the Lord's name used in vain in several different contexts, S-bombs, D-bombs (think Nixon's first name), B-bombs, H-bombs, A-bombs, and more. Tell me, how was it that this film was even slightly marketed as an educational political history film when it was nothing more than a medium for the slimy screenwriter to put his dictionary of profanities to use?
As the movie reeled on, I was doing my best to settle down my rowdy students and try and explain that even though these actors on the screen, whom they are supposed to look up to a role models, used this language, it was not a good idea that they do so also. And that's not easy. I was also struggling to explain to the ladies that their husbands may use these words sometimes when coming home from a tough day at work, and the best thing to do is have dinner ready ahead of time so they can calm them down. Preferably, in a nice house dress and a ribbon in their hair.
When I had nearly finished this task, I glanced up at the screen and, you'll never guess what I saw...a man standing nude with his buttocks handing out on the big screen. Just standing there flaunting his manly booty. Now at this point in my position as a teacher I had only practiced the homeland security evacuation drills, never had to really put them to use, but to me this qualified as RED: Severe Risk so I escorted them out of the theatre.
Needless to say, being in the Baton Death March would have been a more pleasant experience than the drive back to the school. The ladies were quivering, the boys were shocked, and I was so red in the face that some even mistook me for an Injin. I asked them if there was anything I could do to prevent them from telling and they just kinda sat there. I didn't have to worry about them telling anyone; in fact they will probably speak to very few people again in their lives.
Do not watch: Frost/Nixon. ...more info
- Truth is stranger than fiction...
A film based on a play about the real debates between David Frost and Richard Nixon. Like any play or fictionalised screenplay based on a historical event (Amadeus, the Killing Fields), careful thought needs to be given about what is fact and what is fiction. The problem is that, without a roadmap, it is impossible to know what really happened as it is depicted in the film without either a roadmap or researching the events of the documentary and watching the debates themselves. They exist on YouTube, of course, and it would be good to watch them all.
I enjoyed the movie, mostly because all of the characters were so vivid. David Frost reminded me a lot of someone I know, and watching Frank Langella play Richard Nixon because you'd find yourself wondering how similar he was and how dissimilar from Nixon he was (likewise for Anthony Hopkins playing Nixon in the Oliver Stone movie). Very interesting touches, such as the look on Frost's face when he first starts interviewing Nixon and realizes that he's WAY out of his league with the fish he's roped. Nixon's hunger to be back in the spotlight is palpable, although his greed in ringing in the big bucks is a questionable distraction that is only seen in the first parts of the film. Kevin Bacon is fantastic as Nixon's devoted Marine chief of staff, whose devotion is not entirely understandable until you watch the bonus materials (which are excellent) that include interviews with the devoted people who run the Richard Nixon Presidential library, which started life differently than other presidential libraries, mainly due to the cloud over Nixon's resignation - it was only officially set up in 2007, three years after fellow two-termer Bill Clinton's. The complexity of his character is remarkable - he eggs Frost on to become a worthy adversary, despite the fact that he was chosen for the interview mainly on the basis that he was a lightweight. The contradiction of the coexistence of his egotism with his low self-esteem is also fascinating to behold.
Some quibbles with the film - I find it odd that David Frost is described as a playboy, but we only get hints of this. I also dislike the key "drunk Nixon phone call" scene/dream sequence, which strikes me as stagy. How many people who watch this film will assume that it was based on a real event? Was it?...more info
- Riveting look at a crucial time in history
When I first heard about a movie which covered the David Frost interviews of Richard Nixon, I couldn't imagine that it would make very good theater. How wrong I was! From the beginning of the movie, showing Nixon's resignation and Frost's less-than-heavyweight television career, to the final moments showing the former President self-destructing before a large television audience, this is a fascinating portrayal of a David and Goliath struggle which ends much as it did in the Biblical version. David Frost invested all of his financial resources in a gamble which could have ruined his career or, as it happened, raised him to new heights as a serious journalist. The movie hits all the right notes and the portrayal of Nixon is powerful and poignant....more info