Saturday, January 31, 2009
A huge gamble with bad odds that result in fantastic returns. Ultimately, this is why Director, Ron Howard's latest Oscar nominated film works.
There is also the timeliness of President Obama taking office, which has us really thinking about the significance of the "Highest Office" and our President's responsibility to represent our Country with truth and dignity, none of which surrounded President Nixon before or after his resignation.
But it's the Frost part of Frost/Nixon that gives the story tension and someone to root for. David Frost (Michael Sheen) is a personable, charming, rather self-effacing talk show host in Britain and Australia. His New York show having recently bombed. It's this fact that seems to be his driving motive for wanting to land an interview with disgraced, President Nixon (Frank Langella). Although it's been three years since Nixon's resignation from office, Nixon has yet to grant an interview, although it seems at this point he's open to granting it to the highest bidder. Still, the notion that this "Regis Philbin" type talk show host should or would be the one to ostensibly give Nixon his public trial, seems absurd. Neither the British nor Australian networks will back Frost, and no U.S. studios agree to even broadcast it. He winds up putting up a helluva lot of his own money and has to tap dance to get sponsors.
Smartly, he has brought along his very pragmatic friend and producer, John Birt (Matthew Macfadyen) to help him secure research help in the form of future Award-Winning journalist, Robert Zelnick (Oliver Platt) and passionate for justice, author, James Reston, Jr. (Sam Rockwell). Without the tireless dedication of this trio, Frost's gamble would have left him both penniless and career less in the end. Why? because Frost's main objective was in the "get", he doesn't realize for the longest time the magnitude of responsibility he's taken on in having secured this interview with Nixon.
The building up of these high stakes is what makes Frost/Nixon a movie (previously a play by same writer, Peter Morgan) and not just a retelling of an historic moment in US politics. You don't need to know all the ins and outs and players involved in the Watergate scandal to tap into the odd adversarial dynamic of unwitting, David Frost as "David" and Tricky Dick as "Goliath".
On a personal note, I'd like to give a shout out to Kate Jennings Grant, who plays a non-speaking Diane Sawyer in the film. She and I knew each other in what seems like a lifetime ago and lost touch. But I'm so happy to see her in such a high-profile flick. Next to be seen in a Catherine Zeta-Jones vehicle "The Rebound" Watch out for this next hot actress!
Rating: Pretty Middle Toe