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Monday, August 3, 2009

FROST/NIXON (2008)

Over-hyped pic about the similarly over-hyped interviews David Frost conducted with Richard Nixon after his resignation. There’s a bit of fun here as Tricky Dick begins the interviews playing rope-a-dope with Frost, and some guffaws can be had at Nixon’s appalling transparency when his id gets the best of him, but what’s the point of it all? The filmmakers seriously underestimated the voyeuristic thrill of illusion you got on-stage where the actors seemed to really be their characters. And director Ron Howard makes it worse by opening his film with documentary footage. Once Michael Sheen & Frank Langella step in as Frost & Nixon, we can only watch & wait for the dramatic material that will make up for what they ain’t . . . the real thing. (The best scripter Peter Morgan can come up with is that wheeziest of devices, the drunken midnight phone call.) Howard, who likes to coax audience response with multiple reactions shots (he uses them just as a sit-com uses a laugh track), goes one better here (make that one worse) by having faux interviews where the cast tells us just how we are supposed to respond. It’s maddening. For the record, Toby Jones does a fine & lightly vicious Swifty Lazar, while poor Sam Rockwell is pushed into the first bad perf of his otherwise immaculate career.

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