Thursday, January 29, 2009

437 - Frost/Nixon review

“Frost/Nixon” is a work of stunning relevance and undeniable timeliness. The importance of this film cannot be overstated, only witnessed and absorbed by oneself. Director Ron Howard and crew have the bravery, the bold audacity, the imperative selflessness to address the elephant in the room, the most sacred of cows, the virtually untarnished and universally admired “hero” of American history: Richard Milhous Nixon.

As a certain few of you are aware, decades of right-wing media lionizing have ensured that Nixon is amongst our most beloved presidents, a legendary figure beloved by voters of both parties and consistently ranked amongst Abraham Lincoln and the Roosevelt cousins as one of the finest leaders to ever hold office.

Alas, this spotless veneer masks a dark truth, one largely forgotten by those who witnessed it and practically unheard of by those who didn’t. See, behind the benevolent and warm public persona is a true monster, a man who considers evil and cruelty to be the most desirable virtues, a human being so despicable that Lucifer himself would stand in awe before cowering in fear.

Therein lies the greatness of “Frost/Nixon:” never before has a filmmaker in these United States had the resolve to look Tricky Dick square in the eye and take him to task for his corruptions and misdeeds, the least of which are nearly Hitler-esque in their severity, to say nothing of his more serious offenses against humanity.

Rest assured, this film will send Nixon into a frenzy, no doubt stomping around his California home in a liquor and shame fueled fury, stricken with the terrible realization that at long last, someone had the courage to expose him for what he is: an unparalleled blight on world history.

OK, I got that out of my system. For those still paying attention, rest assured that “Frost/Nixon” is an utter waste of time for all except the most immature of Nixon loathers. It’s a smug and ultimately pointless exercise in self-congratulation, the sort of nonsense one unfortunately has to expect from a film industry that finds a stage play concerned with insulting a long dead and much loathed president pertinent and compelling material. Every year there’s at least one Hollywood film that devotes time to slamming Nixon, each one seemingly stupider and more arbitrary than the last.

The subject is the interviewing of Nixon (Frank Langella) by David Frost (Michael Sheen), a TV presenter who was considered lightweight until he bagged Tricky Dick for an elaborate interview. The film is well made and impeccably acted, but it can’t escape the inherent inconsequence of being yet another anti-Nixon tirade.

Here’s a thought: why not make a documentary on the subject, alternating between interviews of the participants and footage of the event? Because there’s no automatic Oscar nomination for Ron Howard and the producers, that’s why. How Nixonesque.

2 out of 5


Dustin said...

This was so funny. Spot on too, with the analysis of the last paragraph. The Courier chopped it down quite a bit- though I think it survived it looks very short in print.

Ryan said...

Your intro was good, but a little long. If I were still your editor I probably would have asked for a chopped down version as well.

I'm assuming the reason was that, as you're probably talking to people who haven't seen the movie and want to know if it's any good, you need to get to the point faster. With short attention spans, I think alot of people would get tired of the heaping praise by the end of the second paragraph and just go out to see why you thought the movie was so good.

Blake Badker said...

to criptic on the intro. you're were trying to prove yourself intellectually when we already respect you. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Nixon - the "majorest" tyrants of the 20th century.

see how dumb i sound? leave the wordplay up to the poets, you get to be a respected film columnist guy.

James said...

If I have any regret about the review, it's that I didn't have the nerve to make it pure sarcasm. I was afraid that if I did that the Courier wouldn't send me a check.

Blake: Thanks for suggesting that someone respects my intellect.