Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thumbs Up: "Frost/Nixon"

On Sunday, I caught an early afternoon showing of "Frost/Nixon" in a crowded theater at the AMC Loews near Lincoln Center. The new film tells the story of the interviews conducted in May 1977 by British television personality David Frost with a post-Watergate President Richard M. Nixon.

As a political junkie and a little bit of a history buff, I enjoyed the film a great deal. But, even those without an interest in politics or history likely will appreciate "Frost/Nixon" for its tension-laden scenes and sympathetic characters.

A superb Frank Langella portrays President Nixon in this film based on the play of the same name by Peter Morgan. Morgan, Langella and director Ron Howard bring us a Nixon who is complex and fascinating.

Michael Sheen, who well played Tony Blair in "The Queen" (also written by Peter Morgan), plays a young David Frost. As portrayed in the film, Sir David was not nearly as erudite as we think of him today. He is depicted here as the Ryan Seacrest of the '70s.

Langella and Sheen both likely deserve to be nominated for Academy Awards for their work. Both "Best Actor" nods, I'd say, as they probably had equal screen time.

"Frost/Nixon" has left me with a desire to watch the original interviews. I also want to discover which parts of the film were not historically accurate.

As of this writing, "Frost/Nixon" has a 92 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Manohla liked this one, too, calling it a "theatrical smackdown." This line from her NYT review was on-target: "Stories of lost crowns lend themselves to drama, but not necessarily audience-pleasing entertainments, which may explain why “Frost/Nixon” registers as such a soothing, agreeably amusing experience, more palliative than purgative."

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