Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The President Who Got Caught

Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell
Released: December 5, 2008

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Director - Ron Howard (lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor - Frank Langella (lost to Sean Penn for Milk)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Peter Morgan (lost to Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Editing (lost to Slumdog Millionaire)

This film is based on a theater play of the same name that came out a couple years before. Both are based on the 1977 interviews the 37th President of the United States (that Lyndon Johnson sure was sandwiched between two of the most well-known Presidents of the 20th century, wasn't he?) gives to British journalist David Frost who's more known for hosting variety-type shows than being a hard-hitting journalist. I didn't even know these interviews existed until the movie was making its promotional rounds. Obviously I never saw them because I wasn't born yet, but I was familiar with Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

Because of that, it would be a huge deal to score an interview with Nixon and Frost and his producer end up paying big bucks for it. There's many terms and agreements they must abide to, such as only using 25% of their interview to discuss Watergate. Months before the interview Frost and two assistants he hires for research dig up any and all information they can find about Watergate so they're fully prepared.

Langella (Nixon) and Sheen (Frost) reprise their theater roles in the film. Because the first time I saw the actual David Frost was from a clip they show of the interviews in the special features, I thought Sheen did a good job of portraying him, but because I was so familiar with Nixon as a public figure, the first scene I saw with him played by Langella, I just didn't buy him as Nixon, but as the movie went on, I was able to let myself believe he was Nixon.

During the first couple of interviews, Frost has a difficult time getting certain questions asked because Nixon keeps it focused on his more positive achievements during his time in the White House and doesn't let Frost get a word in. The final interview is when the real questions are finally answered and Nixon has no choice but to answer them.

I've never seen the actual interviews, but if you were to watch them, then watch the movie, you would see that they are verbatim.

I avoided this movie for awhile because I thought it would be boring, but it was actually pretty good and kept me interested.

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