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PCR #457 (Vol. 9, No. 52) This edition is for the week of December 22--31, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Valkyrie"  by Mike Smith
A Very Fanboy Christmas  by ED Tucker
The Flaming Lips: Christmas On Mars  by Terence Nuzum
Favorite Topics Of ‘08 .... From First To Worst .... Arena Football Died? .... Nfl Picks .... Sports Talk Sports Awards! .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
Merry Christmas .... .... ....  by Matt Drinnenberg
Thanks And Thoughts .... Show Us!! .... Passing On .... In Case We Missed You .... Coming Next Year .... The Year That Was: Part Ii .... Top Movie Quotes .... I Leave You With This .... And The Oscar Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen and Kevin Bacon
Directed by: Ron Howard
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 2 mins

Has it really been more than thirty years since Richard M. Nixon resigned the Presidency? For me, the summer of 1974 meant playing baseball and listening to songs like “Kung Fu Fighting” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Billy Joel had his first hit with “Piano Man.” Paul Anka had a comeback with “You’re Having My Baby.” On Martha’s Vineyard, Steven Spielberg and crew were filming “Jaws.” In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear Paul Anka’s tune play on a radio on the beach. August 8, 1974 was a day to remember for many people. Little Patricia Arquette was celebrating her 6th birthday. A memorial service was held for the victims of Charles Manson, killed on this date five years earlier. But most Americans alive at this time remember August 8 as the day President Nixon, embattled in the Watergate hearings, announced that he was turning the country over to Gerald Ford and heading to California. Three years later, now reduced to being the keynote speaker at local orthodonical conventions, Nixon accepted an offer (and $600,000) from British talk show host David Frost for an in depth interview, one that still resonates today.

Based on the highly successful play that packed both London and Broadway theaters, director Ron Howard has filmed the best play adaptation since Rob Reiner tackled “A Few Good Men.” And he wisely kept the production’s original stars, whose talent and chemistry on screen make it hard to envision anyone else in the roles. Langella plays Nixon like a wounded lion, full of pride at his achievements and still convinced that he has done nothing wrong. As Frost, Sheen is more aloof. Frost had a reputation as a “soft” questioner and, as the film progresses, it doesn’t seem like that rep is going to change any time soon.

The film opens with familiar news coverage of the break in at the Watergate hotel and the subsequent hearings that were held because of the crime. After his resignation, Nixon headed to the sunny beaches of San Clemnte but found his life boring. While working out a deal for his published biography, Nixon learns that “60 Minutes” has offered him $350,000 to sit down with Mike Wallace. His handlers convince him that not only is Frost offering more, he certainly won’t be as hard on the president. But as easy money as the gig is for Nixon, it’s almost back breaking for Frost. Unable to convince a major network to pick up the interviews (a total of four), he is reduced to trying to sell air time to such advertisers as Alpo and Weedeater. As the interviews progress, it is clear that Frost is overmatched, his British manners not allowing him to interrupt Nixon when he rambles in his answers. But everything changes when it’s time to talk about Watergate.

Along with the stars, Howard has assembled an outstanding supporting cast that bring to life members of both player’s teams. As Nixon’s assistant, Jack Brennan, Kevin Bacon is protective of his boss, even though he realizes what needs to be disclosed. As key researchers on the Frost side of the ledger, Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell try to instill in Frost the need to get past the formalities and bring home the story they are sure America wants to hear. And you can’t go wrong when director Ron puts little brother Clint on screen. If my addition is correct, this marks the 15th time Ron has hired Clint who, not surprisingly, seems to step up his game when he’s on screen for his brother. And call it coincidence that Howard has cast former “Bad Seed” girl Patty McCormack as Pat Nixon.

With the recent passing last week of Mark Felt, who was revealed 30 years after the fact to be the mysterious “Deep Throat,” who provided the information needed to bring Nixon down, the film stands as almost a time capsule for those who choose to attend. On a scale of zero to four I give “Frost/Nixon”


This week's movie review of "Frost/Nixon" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.