Friday, September 2, 2011

Frost Nixon

by Drew Martin

If you do not like politics and movies about politics, and you could care less about Nixon, his administration and Watergate then a good film to see is Frost/Nixon because it is about all of these things but from a very different angle. I watched it last night and found it well paced and captivating.

The movie jacket reads:
When a disgraced President Nixon agreed to an interview with jet-setting television personality, David Frost, he thought he'd found the key to saving is tarnished legacy. But, with a name to make and a reputation to overcome, Frost became one of Nixon's most formidable adversaries and engaged the leader in a charged battle of wits that changed the face of politics forever.

I just now realize it is a Ron Howard film. Although I also liked A Beautiful Mind, I still have a hard time accepting him as a director because he was burned into my adolescent mind as his Happy Days incarnation, Richie Cunningham. Knowing this however, makes it easier to see this film as a blend of the media cues I understood it was referencing: The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, All the President's Men and Rocky.

ause the series of interviews, which take place over several days, are treated like a boxing match. From the very start the reference is offered, suggesting that Frost, despite all of his training and hype, is left slack-jawed by the defending champion's first punch. Each session is treated as a physical round of sparring. Between recordings, each "fighter" is coached in the corner. There is not any visible blood, spit or bruises but these breaks mimic the "get back in there and show him what you are made of" ringside pep talks.

The interesting thing about the interview is that it substitutes for a trial that never happened because incoming President Ford pardoned Nixon. This is the most interesting concept because a trial is only a means to an end and what America really wanted was not so much that the truth be told but a real confession and admission of guilt; the truth was already out there. It is stated through one of the supporting characters in the end of the film that the fault of television is that it reduces things and dumbs them down but in this case, the closeup of Nixon's troubled and regretful face was the perfect use of the medium.