Friday, February 27, 2009

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

The third and final movie of the night was "Frost/Nixon". Of all the nominated movies this was the only one I considered seeing before.

Shortly after leaving office Nixon agreed to be interviewed by a British talk show host. He was popular enough to have shows in England, Australia, and America at one point. He thought he could really stick it to Nixon, sell the interviews, and make a bunch of money. He got a team of researchers, went pitching the interviews, and invested a bunch of his own money. As the interviews got started Frost realized he was in over his head. Politicians are a different beast than celebrities. Nixon destroyed him during the first two interviews. The third was easy because it talked about what Nixon was good at.

I felt the whole movie pivoted on one point. Nixon gives Frost a call. He's been drinking. He doesn't recall the call later. But it provides insight into Nixon. He reveals why he feels a certain kinship with Frost. They weren't born rich. They fought their way to the top and were looked down on by their born-wealthy peers even when they reached the top. Nixon wanted them both to stick it to the snobs, but one of them had to go down.

You also realize that for Nixon politics is all about the struggle. He was in it for the fight and the debates. What he wanted from Frost was a real dual. Explaining himself was beside the point. Nixon wanted to fight and Frost hadn't been giving it to him. I felt that he was goading Frost into really fighting. And he got it. Frost finally did his own research and really prepared. He got his team into records he previously hadn't thought important. For the 4th and final interview, the Watergate interview, he was ready. And he got Nixon to admit things he wouldn't otherwise have said. The "If the President does it, it's not illegal." Was reminescent of arguments made by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration about torture.

Yummy found the movie disturbing because it showed a Nixon who honestly believed he was doing the right thing.

Awesome performance by the guy playing Nixon. My boss doesn't see the resemblance. I do have to wonder if there's a difference between how he's viewed by someone who lived through that as compared to someone my age who knows Nixon mostly via Nixon impersonators.

I liked this movie, I'd recommend it if you're trying to explain Nixon and Watergate to some kids, but I don't see a spot for it in my collection.

You can find the actual Frost and Nixon inverviews on DVD if you're interested and know where to look.

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