Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Frost/Nixon

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


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I saw Frost/Nixon Friday night.

It’s funny, really, because I almost didn’t see this movie at all. I’d just gotten some less than stellar news while driving with a friend to see the movie. In fact, I took the call on my cell in his car. Actually, that turned out to be a good thing because I was able to check with him afterward to see how I’d handled the news, since I tend to blank out when under that kind of stress. According to him, I did really well. Not over-reacting or saying anything stupid or inappropriate. (And, no, it wasn’t a job interview, but, as per usual, a girl.)

So, in any case, I was a little numb and disappointed and mildly depressed. And, since my friend is a kind soul, I had the offer to see something else, like, for instance, a comedy. But, frankly, none of the comedies still playing at this theater were appealing to me, so we went ahead and saw Frost/Nixon. I expected a rather slow documentary style of movie. I was pleasantly surprised to be quite wrong!
The story, of course, is that of the David Frost and Richard M. Nixon interviews which took place in 1977, after Nixon had left office in disgrace and been pardoned. Now, you may be asking yourself how a movie about a series of interviews between an Australian talkshow host and a disgraced former president could possibly be all that captivating. Certainly, that’s what I thought when I heard about the movie. So, I went in braced for being bored out of my mind. It seemed a marginally better time than going home alone, though, so I went anyway. I’m so, so glad I did! At first, I found myself identifying with David Frost who risked everything, his career and all of his personal funds, to make the interviews happen because he was betting that it would put him back on top after being relegated to work that he thought was beneath his career. I completely understood taking that kind of giant risk even though no one believed in him anymore because he knew, deep in his heart, that it was only by taking such a huge risk that he could reap the rewards he desired. As my friend reminded me, if there was nothing to lose, then there was no risk. But, oddly enough, by the end of the movie, I found myself feeling a little sorry for Nixon! By this time, he’d become a broken man. His entire life was based around his political career and when he got caught in the Watergate scandal which forced him to resign, it destroyed him. That’s the Nixon that Frank Langella recreates for the screen. And, I have to tell you, he does it amazingly well. I tend to think of Langella as the B-movie vampire actor, but at one point in this movie I was shocked to see Frank Langella on the screen and not Nixon. I had gotten so sucked into his performance that I’d forgotten he wasn’t Nixon! Remember, Langella looks nothing like Nixon at all, so this is quite an impressive feat.

There’s not much in the way of a complicated plot for this movie and it’s hardly worth going into here. Simply put, it’s about getting Nixon and Frost together, getting the interviews taped, getting them paid for by sponsors and then getting them on the air. But, the movie is also about getting Nixon to admit wrong-doing in the Watergate burglary and associated scandal. And, it’s about the two men and how they verbally wrestled with each other throughout the interviews. Finally, it’s about the two men individually, about how they fought their own inner demons, about the choices they made and how that worked out.

I have to say, I loved this movie. I know, partly it was due to me being in the place mentally, emotionally and spiritually that I was, but part of it was just how surprisingly good the film was! I mean, I really was not expecting anyone to be able to make something as boring as interviews interesting, but it was a totally engaging film that moved along so quickly it was a surprise that it was suddenly over.
Brilliant film and I highly recommend it!


  1. All this movie does is contribute to the ongoing dumbing-down of the audience for the sake of entertainment. Since JFK, and more recently with “The Hurricane” and “Invincible”, Hollywood has been spicing up so-called ‘true stories’ and taking incredible license with the facts. Clearly, filmgoers are into “reality” these days, and any movie that claims to be about what really happened is going to have some enhanced appeal. Richard Nixon was a key figure in modern American politics and learning what made him tick and shaped his behavior in the Oval office is important. This film injects pure fantasy and whole sequences which simply did not happen in order to make the film more seedy. The disclaimer that some scenes were invented by the filmmaker should have been shown in big letters at the beginning of the movie, as well as during all the phony scenes.

    Comment by JohnRJ08 — 1/5/2009 @ 11:40 am

  2. Well, John, obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how they express it. Personally, I’d rather people were interested in the history of it any way we can get them interested. Until I heard about this movie, I didn’t even know that these interviews took place! I haven’t gone and hunted up the transcripts of the interviews yet, but, my curiosity was sparked enough to think about doing it. It’s been a busy week already or I’d have done it already and, for the same reason, I can’t promise I’ll get to it just yet. Still, the movie has undoubtedly opened me to a fascinating historical anecdote, so, it’s still a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/5/2009 @ 4:12 pm

  3. I want to go see doubt. I hope its good.

    Comment by im822 — 1/6/2009 @ 10:42 am

  4. Doubt was good, too. A little more unsettling than Frost/Nixon, but still good. Not quite what I expected and it resonated with my own existential crisis a little too closely for my comfort, but, still, worth seeing.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/6/2009 @ 3:28 pm

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