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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I shall be your fiercest adversary/I shall come at you with everything I've got....the limelight can only shine on one of us"
"Frost/Nixon is a riveting historical drama, based on the play by Peter Morgan. Morgan wrote the movie's screenplay, as well as screenplays for "The Queen," and "The Last King of Scotland." The controversial 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews are dramatized here, and Frank Langella's superb performance as the disgraced former president, Richard M. Nixon, is worth the price of a...
Published on April 29, 2009 by Jana L. Perskie

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ron Howard's Creative License Should Be Suspended
I'm afraid I must take exception to director Ron Howard's assertion in his commentary on this DVD that creative license is a good thing when telling a story based on real-life events.

In my opinion, he and the playwright/screenwriter have taken too many creative liberties and muddied the waters here in a way that will raise doubts about the truth and...
Published on July 13, 2009 by Jerry P. Danzig


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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I shall be your fiercest adversary/I shall come at you with everything I've got....the limelight can only shine on one of us", April 29, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
"Frost/Nixon is a riveting historical drama, based on the play by Peter Morgan. Morgan wrote the movie's screenplay, as well as screenplays for "The Queen," and "The Last King of Scotland." The controversial 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews are dramatized here, and Frank Langella's superb performance as the disgraced former president, Richard M. Nixon, is worth the price of a movie rental alone.

Richard Nixon resigned from the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, rather than face impeachment by Congress for his role in the Watergate scandal, and subsequent events. He was the only US president ever to do so. The film shows real footage of the Nixon family, leaving the White House and boarding a helicopter - the first step in a journey which will take Mr. Nixon into exile.

David Frost, (Michael Sheen), a British celebrity talk show host, watches this event on television and decides that an interview with Nixon would be just the thing to relaunch his waning career. He pursues the project for some time and winds up financing it out of his own pocket, while searching desperately for backers. Creepy literary agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar, (Toby Jones), negotiates the deal. Nixon agrees to do more than 20 hours of on-camera interviews with Frost, and will receive $1 million or more in fees and profits for the sessions. He is in serious debt. He has huge legal bills and back taxes to pay and needs the money. Under the terms of the contract, Nixon will have no control over content of questions or editing, and will not see any of the questions in advance. Of course, he can always refuse to answer questions, but he will have to do so in front of a huge audience.

Frost is a most incongruous choice for interviewer, as he has no journalistic experience and is known for being an entertainer and playboy. Yet he manages to upstage major TV networks with their top-notch interviewers, like Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, and David Brinkley, and get the gig. Nixon, after almost three years of silence, out of the public eye at his home in California, looks to the series of interviews as an opportunity to vindicate himself and resurrect his very tarnished image. He believes that Frost, a lightweight, will not ask the tough questions, and allow him to forward his own version of his time in office and Watergate.

Frost brings British John Birt, (Matthew Macfadyen), with him to California, to direct the production. They hire radical researcher James Reston, Jr., (Sam Rockwell), who wants Frost to play hardball and try Nixon in the public eye. TV producer Bob Zelnick, (Oliver Platt), signs onto the project also. Caroline Cushing, (Rebecca Hall), Frost's gorgeous girlfriend, accompanies the team. Nixon takes note of her beauty on several occasions. He rattles Frost, before the beginning of one session, by asking if "he had done any fornicating" the night before. I have never known anyone else who is capable of using such terrible language, frequently, and remain in a formal stance while doing so. However you look at him, RMN is a very formal man...he never looks relaxed - in real life or as played by Mr. Langella.

Nixon has his own team. US Marine officer Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon), a Vietnam veteran, is Nixon's most loyal fan, and Diane Sawyer, (Kate Jennings Grant), is a consultant and assistant. Nixon tells Frost at the get-go, "I shall be your fiercest adversary. I shall come at you with everything I've got. Because the limelight can only shine on one of us."

Ultimately, forty-four million viewers turned-out to watch Richard Nixon go head-to-head with David Frost, about a third of the U.S. viewing public at the time. Director Ron Howard brings the tension and drama of this event to the screen...and then some. He focuses more on the psychological aspects of the characters rather than on the politics involved - to great effect. Howard explores each man's insecurities and the enormity of their egos. He really captures the intensity of the interview sessions, including shots of Nixon mopping perspiration from his upper lip with a handkerchief.

I was somewhat disturbed by one scene, a contrived midnight telephone call that Nixon, who had been drinking, makes to Frost. As so much of this film is accurate, or mostly accurate, the insert of a purely fictional event, is powerful but misleading. Mr. Howard took dramatic license too far in this instance.

Again, Mr. Langella's portrayal of Richard Nixon is stellar. Two monologues, in particular, stand out as exceptional. The final interview scenes, with close-ups of Mr. Nixon's/Langella's face, of his thoughtful, almost poignant expressions are phenomenal as he admits that he, "let the American people down."

This is a film which brings much depth to the event which it portrays, and to the characters involved. As a baby boomer, who clearly remembers Watergate, and the events surrounding it, I was riveted to the screen. Highly recommended.
Jana Perskie
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near Perfect Filmmaking, February 28, 2009
By 
Chris Luallen (Nashville, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
After the Watergate scandal and his subsequent resignation, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) is living in relative seclusion back in California. But, following a lucrative interview offer from British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), Nixon sees an opportunity not only to make some easy money but to return himself to the public spotlight. Meanwhile Frost, best known for chatting with celebrity lightweights, views this as a chance to gain fame and respectability as a journalist in America.

Frost is encouraged by his research aides to go hard after Nixon. But instead Frost throws softballs for the first three interview segments and is easily overwhelmed by his more experienced adversary. Then, on the night before the final interview, Frost receives a strange phone call from Nixon, who basically goes off on a drunken rant. Frost, smelling blood, decides to take a more aggressive approach and on the final day Nixon ends up making humiliating admissions about his role in the Watergate cover-up, perhaps cementing his tarnished legacy in American politics.

How much you enjoy this movie will probably depend on how much interest you have in the subject matter. But there is no doubt that this is one of those rare motion pictures that reaches near perfection in terms of filmmaking. The acting, especially by Langella, is superb and the sense of dramatic timing is impeccable. The small details were also well handled, such as film's spot on depiction of the 70's and Nixon's bizarre fascination with Frost's Italian leather shoes. This is probably the best directorial outing in Ron Howard's career. Highly recommended.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive Look Into Frost/Nixon Interviews, April 23, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon focuses on the period after Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency, and leading up to the Frost Nixon interview. The movie starts off with the world's and Frost's fascination with Nixon's resignation and the lengths he went to secure Nixon as an interview subject. Frost bet not only his career on the interviews but his life as well. He put all his assets on the line, and borrowed from all his friends to pay the $600,000 Nixon (and his agents) asked for.

Part of Frosts preparation for the interviews was to hire researchers for background on Nixon and to formulate the questions asked during the interviews. The researchers, played by Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell add not only some comic relief, but provide a behind the scenes look at the pressure they were under and exerted on Frost to, not just interview Nixon but to push him and ask the hard questions, to at least try for some accountability from Nixon, which of course resulted in Nixon blurting out that if the President does something it makes it legal.

From Nixon's point of view we're shown his isolation, even when he's surrounded by aides, family, friends and supporters. We're also given a window into Nixon's insecurities with a drunken phone call to Frost, and Nixon rails on about the injustices and perceived slights he suffered throughout his life at the hands of others. Nixon also tried to get the psychological edge on Frost by asking off-kilter questions right before taping would begin, such as asking Frost if he had fornicated the night before, which was a famously well known anecdote at the time.

When I first saw the previews of Frost/Nixon I cringed when I saw Frank Langella as Nixon because it looked like a caricature. But that was before seeing the movie. Langella merges so successfully with Nixon that you cease to think of him doing a character but of personifying Nixon.

Ron Howard isn't a flashy director, he uses special effects only when necessary to the plot, and he isn't given to using the usual directors devices to add false emotion to a scene, instead he trusts the story, he trusts that the drama of the situations to carry the viewer interest, to provide them with an emotionally satisfying experience. Howard is one of the best directors working today, he consistently gets solid performances from his actors. The subject matter he chooses to direct is diverse and compelling. All of which is a far cry from his directorial debut of Eat My Dust.

The bonus features include, deleted scenes, a making of featurette, there's a short documentary look at the actual interviews as compared to the dramatized interviews, and there's a featurette that's bit of a propaganda for the Nixon library. I usually don't like the commentaries feature on movies, I usually find the insights not all that insightful but Ron Howard's commentary on this is interesting and adds to the viewing of the movie.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ron Howard's Creative License Should Be Suspended, July 13, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
I'm afraid I must take exception to director Ron Howard's assertion in his commentary on this DVD that creative license is a good thing when telling a story based on real-life events.

In my opinion, he and the playwright/screenwriter have taken too many creative liberties and muddied the waters here in a way that will raise doubts about the truth and consequences of the actual Frost/Nixon interviews as well as the true character of each man.

For example, in real life, Nixon did NOT call Frost after-hours in his hotel, rambling on in his cups about the way both men rose from humble origins and fought an uphill battle against their social superiors.

This is an important falsehood, because in the movie, Frost attempts to psyche out Nixon before the final Watergate interview by alluding to this phone call. Well, this phone call NEVER happened!

Similarly, as Frost questions Nixon about his illegal incursions into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, the movie shows both men responding to footage of the ensuing carnage. Apparently, the real F/N interview did NOT resort to this ungainly sort of "gotcha" journalism. Again, this is an unfortunate distortion that actually makes the movie viewer feel more sympathy for Nixon, which in reality is unwarranted.

The producers of this DVD could have remedied this confusion by including a second disc containing the entire actual F/N Watergate interview rather than a brief bonus feature with video excerpts from the interview.

Otherwise Frank Langella is superb as Nixon, but I felt that Michael Sheen overplayed his role as Frost. I suspect that Sheen failed to modulate his stage performance for the screen, which could also be Howard's failing, despite his stated ambition to be an "actor's director".

In the final analysis, the movie may serve a useful purpose if it stirs the American public to demand greater accountability of our leaders and also the media that cover them.

But I fear that it does history no favors.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film ...but how accurate is it?, August 3, 2009
By 
e. verrillo (williamsburg, ma) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
Frost/Nixon is a David and Goliath story. David Frost, a talk show host who started his professional life as a satirist, decides to take on the champion of chicanery, "Tricky Dick," in a round of interviews that may finally extract a confession of complicity in the Watergate cover-up. To do it justice, the film is an absolute marvel. Frank Langella does a truly gorgeous performance as a Nixon "ravaged" by the weight of his own political isolation and ultimate complicity in a crime. And Michael Sheen, as David Frost, is perfect as the man hovering on the edge of bankruptcy, personal failure, and professional ridicule. Although the beginning of the film was rather slow, the build-up to the final interview was fraught with an almost unbearable tension. It was, in every respect, an enthralling, revealing and beautifully enacted film. The fact that it did not correspond with what I remembered of Nixon hardly lessened its impact. However, it did raise a question: Was Ron Howard's film true?

After watching the original interviews (which I highly recommend), I have come to the conclusion that "yes", the film was true, and "no" it wasn't. What is clear from the Frost Nixon interviews filmed in 1977 is that they are also a David and Goliath story, but with the roles reversed. Frost--self-possessed, confident, and completely unrelenting--is not David, but Goliath. It is Richard Nixon--squirming like a worm on a hook, stammering, and wiping his upper lip--who comes up short. Far from Langella's poised and deadly Nixon, the real man comes across as the underhanded crook he really was, avoiding every question with obfuscations and double-talk, passing the blame onto anybody and everybody else, blathering nonsense about "tulips" that had "just come out," indulging in his famous self-pity (Haldeman wept, Ehrlichman wept, Patricia wept, everybody wept). At no time during the interviews did Nixon ever admit to having been involved in a cover-up. And when he finally admitted that he had let the American people down he did not say "but worst of all, I let down our system of government." While he did admit that he let down our system of government, "worst of all" for the real Nixon was that he "let down an opportunity that [he] would have had to build peace in the Middle East." In short, he misssed the chance to pat himself on the back. Richard Nixon was self-serving to the bitter end. He was a man who didn't have an ethical bone in his body, much less a conscience.

So, in what way was this film accurate? Except for the obvious conjectures (the phone call Frost receives in the middle of the night from Nixon, for example), and some liberties with the interviews (condensations, some rewording, and, of course, the invention of a confession) it was true in spirit. For in the broader sense, this film was a Shakespearean-style morality play about the abuse of power. In that sense it was completely true, for not only does power corrupt, it tends to draw the corrupt to it. Nixon's statement that "When the president does [something], that means that it is not illegal" is what lies at the heart of this film. We have had imperial presidents before Nixon, and have certainly had one since, but nowhere will you see a more chilling statement of Divine Right than in the Frost Nixon interviews.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and the Beast, April 11, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
What a mightily enjoyable film.

Frank Langella renders Richard Nixon as slower, older and heftier than he really was; somewhere between a punch drunk prize fighter and a waning silverbacked gorilla, snorting and puffing at the attentions of a glad-handing young dilettante. Michael Sheen plays that glad-handing dilettante, British talk show host David Frost in truth a little unevenly: at times caricaturing his bouffant mincing drawl like an effete Austin Powers, at times a spookily accurate rendition, at times a diluted one not a million miles away from the same actor's celebrated portrayal of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But this unevenness is I think demanded by the script which asks us to believe the same man was by turns the sort of international playboy shagadelically chatting up first class posh girls over the mid Atlantic, a superficial chancer prepared to take on any assignment including (quel horreur!) hosting an Australian chat show, an impulsive bluffer forced into a desperate fundraising measures by a rash commitment which he couldn't back up and an incisive political analyst, able finally to pull Richard Nixon limb from limb when it seemed all was intractably lost. I have a suspicion Frost wasn't really any of things, at least not to anything like the degree suggested here.

But that is what good drama requires, and in this way and in others the dramatic archetypes on which the screenplay was surely based occasionally show through. In a historical drama the screenplay writer's job is to extrude from the intractably interwoven fabric of fact a recognisable narrative when in reality one never existed. Ron Howard does this artfully but is almost too successful for his own good. The narrative prescribes a perfect "confronting the monster" trajectory, with all the phases and characters clearly articulated: henchmen, damsels, wise counsel, facilitating assistants, a call to challenge, early success, dramatic reversal and then triumph out of certain defeat.

But real life, as they say, doesn't follow the script. Now it might just be that the Nixon interviews really did play out in so dramatically perfect a fashion, but you do have to wonder how much additional fictionalising the screenplay involves. A thoroughly implausible drunken midnight conversation, in particular, had the ring of a dramatic as opposed to historical device.

That said, for the very same reason, the Frost/Nixon is extremely entertaining and has piqued my interest enough to find out some more. Special mention should go to the extremely effective secondary cast: Sam Rockwell - not that long ago Zaphod Beeblebrox - all but unrecognisable as Frost's excitable and overly-principled anti-Nixon researcher, Kevin Bacon's typically assured and unflashy portrayal of Nixon's chief of staff Jack Brennan and Toby Jones' creepy portrayal of Nixon's weirdo PR Guy, Swifty Lazar.

Well recommended.

Olly Buxton
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Histoical Event Shown Warts and All - A Must Buy, May 13, 2009
By 
John Armitt (Stavanger, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frost/Nixon [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I have known of David Frost since the time of TWTWTW - That Was The Week That Was when he appeared with the likes of John Cleese and the Two Ronnies. FrostNixon is of course a dramatisation of an already dramatic event - David Frost interviewing the then disgraced ex-president Nixon. It shows a no holds barred Nixon getting the upper hand, by far, in the interviews with an apparantly inept Frost, (who, at the time, was mostly known as a "Chat" show host) until Nixon finally succumbs to Frosts probing questions on the background to the Watergate conspiracy. The film is a true testament to the events, as verified by David Frost himself with some very fine acting by the cast. This is without a doubt the finest film that Ron Howard has directed to date and gives a true look into the events at the time. The Blu Ray copy I have is faultless in both picture and sound quality and includes a couple of extras on Nixon which are gems. 5 star plus.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, August 6, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
Great film. What I particularly liked was how it showed the media for what it is: selfish hypocrites who think only of themselves. As a case in point, take the ending. Nixon confides to Frost that he was never a person people liked, like Frost. Frost, who has put this man through the wringer, has the opportunity, a singular opportunity, to be a mensch and say something to the effect of, "I like you, Mr. President." Instead he does nothing of the sort but turns back to his trophy girl and saunters off to the next party. Beautiful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect filmmaking, December 15, 2010
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
Ron Howard's "Apollo 13", "Cinderella Man", or perhaps most notably his surreal tour de force starring Russell Crowe about legendary mathematician/schizophrenic John Nash A Beautiful Mind all put together, probably do not live up to this film concerning the legendary televised joke-turned-war between Britsh talkshow host David Frost and President "Tricky-Dick" Milhouse Nixon.

An unlikely foe for one of the most underhanded, vicious, cunning and darkly charismatic criminals to ever govern the United States, previous to this titanic engagement Frost had been engaged in decidedly lighthearted media activities: foreshadowing the barrage of "reality based TV" we are bombarded with these days, Frost made the greater bulk of his living hosting a proto-reality talkshow entitled "Great Escapes, If You Know What I Mean?" and checkbook journalism.

That was until 1977, when Richard Nixon decided to emerge from deserved obscurity and offer Frost the opportunity to interview him on air (for 600,000 bucks).

Frank Langella does the best Nixon that I have ever seen and I was a bit skeptical of this upon hearing of it's impending release in 2006--Anthony Hopkins had done quite a job of his own in Oliver Stone's Nixon - The Election Year Edition but his acting ability was a bit hampered by some of the offensive historical fiction Stone felt the need to inject.

The psychotic deer in the headlights, stiff, sweaty, paternally authoritarian and ruthlessly manipulative nature of the man is reflected in every scene Langella gobbles. Michael Sheen holds his own as an essentially nice guy who is clearly out of his league, as was intended, but who came out swinging. The dialogue between Frost and Nixon--particularly in the ghostly, surreal scene in which Nixon calls him from his hotel to let him know that "only one of us can share the limelight" while taping the conversation (old habits die hard, I guess) is one of the most intense scenes I've witnessed in contemporary cinema.

The first half hour of the movie is an exercise in sheer defeat, with Frost being battered about by Nixon's almost preternatural sense of verbal retaliation and excuse making for Watergate. As the movie proceeds we see the essentially tragic and bitter nature of the man, as even his loyal aid Jack Brennan (in a good performance by Kevin Bacon) cannot get him to keep his mouth shut. That famous line: "If the President does it, it's not illegal!" booms from his mouth like the crack of doom. Clocking in at an intense 122 minutes, not one moment turns away from the hateful psyche of this man who was so brilliant and could have done so much but instead went the way of Moloch. Absolutely recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's You and Him Fight, June 11, 2009
This review is from: Frost/Nixon (DVD)
This movie paints David Frost's interview of Richard Nixon as a verbal boxing match. In part, the interview no doubt did get framed that way - as a result of Nixon's own adversarial spirit, and as a result of the hopes many members of Frost's staff entertained of getting a breakthrough admission of guilt from Nixon in regard to Watergate. However Ron Howard, the Director of this film, said this combative aspect of the interview was enhanced in order to make the film more visually dynamic.

Some further poetic license is taken with Frost's reputation. The people ringing this debate are shown repeatedly dismissing Frost as a playboy Hollywood interviewer, as a lightweight unequal to the task of asking any hard-edged political questions, and particularly unequal to the task of getting Nixon to confess to wrong-doing. Again, Ron Howard says that Frost's reputation was skewed this way for the purposes of projecting his encounter with Nixon as a more arresting, more suspenseful "David" and Goliath contest.

In actuality, Frost has always had the reputation of being much more of an insightful interviewer. When he had his American interview show, people would chuckle a bit at his trademark question, "How would you define love?" However overall, it was usually recognized that his offbeat personal questions did end by producing a remarkably intimate, revealing portrait of his subjects. He has always been known as a good listener, as someone able to catch at any loose thread that a person might present. He would then put himself in a position to gently, sympathetically pull on that thread until he unraveled many of the mysteries of his subject's personality.

So in watching this movie, I found myself wishing that the interview had, both in reality and for the purposes of this dramatization, gotten framed less as war and more as exploration. I wondered what might have been elicited if Frost had not been pressured to abandon his usual avuncular style in favor of a hard-hitting, "nail him" approach. I would at some level have preferred that the movie could have been entitled - not Frost-slash-Nixon (Frost/Nixon) - but in a greater spirit of cooperation, Frost-hyphen-Nixon (Frost-Nixon).

For a moment, I thought perhaps such a wish was wrong-headed when I saw Frost elicit what became the advertising trailer for the film - Nixon declaring that when a President decrees something - "then it's NOT illegal." However in his commentary, Ron Howard revealed that this was perhaps the one place where the film strayed from the verbatim text of the interview. In actuality, Nixon made that telling remark in another interview, outside this adversarial series.

Whether you enjoy the blood sport slant given to these proceedings though, or whether you watch this film wondering what might have been revealed under less pressured circumstances - you're bound to be engaged and educated by this reenactment. Furthermore, Ron Howard's Director's commentary is serious, intelligent, and worthwhile.

The one disappointment connected with this DVD is the listing of the "real" interview among its bonus features. Actually, this feature includes only a few seconds of footage from the real interview. The rest of the feature is just another "The Making of Frost/Nixon." However, this film will probably pique your curiosity about the actual interviews and propel you to seek out that footage - so that you can judge for yourself how different inflections, editing, and context - might have recast this historic encounter.
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Frost/Nixon by Ron Howard
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