Friday, May 22, 2009
Movie #7: Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon is a phenomenal movie based on the play of the same name, which was based on the real interviews conducted by British talk show host David Frost in 1977-- the first interview conducted with former President Richard M. Nixon after the Watergate scandal forced him to resign the presidency. Frank Langella does a phenomenal job as the disgraced, tormented former president, almost convincing the viewer that he really is Nixon; Michael Sheen plays interviewer Frost, portraying him almost as a playboy who alternately doesn't seem to be taking the interviews seriously but is putting everything on the line for them-- until a striking change of heart and mind, and a final push into journalistic greatness. The movie, for all that it takes a true story and dramatizes it, includes many of the most significant moments in exact dialogue from the original interviews (most notably, the famous line, "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal.") Perhaps the most significant part of the movie, however, is that director Ron Howard seemed to take great pains to tell the story of the rest of the interview, beyond Frost's Watergate-related triumph. The rest-- the previous three days-- were not nearly as much of a success, as Howard portrays it using his actors, with Nixon effectively steamrolling and stonewalling Frost. All in all, Frost/Nixon was a gripping portrayal of even more grippingly real political theater-- and is timely in the sense that it comes at a point where we are examining the need for some national healing in our own day.