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Frost Nixon [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]

Frank Langella , Michael Sheen , Ron Howard    R (Restricted)   Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 14.99
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Amazon.ca

Sounds like a good match: a historical drama from the author of The Queen, but with an American subject in the generational wheelhouse of director Ron Howard. And so Peter Morgan's Tony-winning play morphs into a Hollywood movie under the wing of the Apollo 13 guy. Morgan's subject is a curious moment of post-Watergate shakeout: British TV host David Frost's long-form interviews with ex-President Richard Nixon, conducted in 1977. It was a big ratings success at the time, justifying the somewhat controversial decision to cut an enormous check for Nixon's services. The movie adds a mockumentary note to the otherwise straightforward style, having direct-to-camera addresses from various aides to Frost and Nixon (played by the likes of Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Bacon); these basically tell us things we already glean from the rest of the movie, adding unnecessary melodrama and upping the stakes. In this curious scheme, the success of Frost's career, which could bellyflop if he doesn't get something worthwhile out of the cagey, long-winded Nixon, is given somewhat more weight than the actual revelations of the interviews. Even with these questionable storytelling decisions, there's still the spectacle of two actors going at it hammer and tongs, and on that level the movie offers some heat. Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair not only in The Queen but also in another Morgan-scripted project, The Deal, is adept at catching David Frost's blow-dried charm, as well as the determination beneath it. Frank Langella's physical performance as Nixon is superb, and he certainly can be a commanding actor, though veteran Nixon-watchers might find that he misses a certain depth of self-pity in the man. Both actors were retained from the original stage production, a rare thing in Hollywood--and probably Howard's best decision of the project. --Robert Horton

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Why didn't you burn the tapes?" April 30 2009
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
This detailed recreation of David Frost's 1977 interviews with President Nixon is surprisingly engaging. The movie takes us back to a time when Presidents didn't pop up on every channel on a daily basis as they do now. Convincing Nixon to be interviewed following the Watergate scandal was quite a coup, even though Frost had a hard time selling it to networks and sponsors.

Michael Sheen (The Queen) portrays Frost as a confident, ambitious journalist and playboy. Frank Langella (Dracula) so completely transforms himself into Nixon that even though he may not look like the man, he IS the man, with all his flaws and failings and ultimate sadness. The actual subject matter of the film - the backstage negotiations, the toadies on both sides, the strategies - were of little interest to me, but the two stars are such good actors that I found the movie riveting. It constantly builds in intensity and suspense and we know that eventually Frost will elicit a monumental admission of guilt from Nixon. This was huge at the time, although since then, we have seen Presidents concede mistakes almost on a regular basis. These days, taking blame is de rigueur for elected officials.

The movie is fairly dry and talky, but it does have historical significance and Frank Langella's performance is magnificent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frost Nixon Nov. 3 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Excellent view on dark USA history. It is also a insight into how one man's rise can come on another man's downfall.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Don't indulge in drunk dialing Feb. 29 2012
By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
Frost/Nixon (2008)
Drama, History, 122 minutes
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen and Rebecca Hall

Like Doubt, Frost/Nixon covers subject matter that would generally bore me, but the story is so strong that it's capable of seizing my attention and holding it for two hours.

I remember David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon when I was in my teens, and wasn't remotely interested. I grew up in England and so have no personal connection to the events surrounding Nixon's term as president.

So why do I have any interest at all in this film?

It's a combination of the script and the acting. Nixon (Langella) and Frost (Sheen) are portrayed perfectly. The supporting cast is also strong and includes Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt and Toby Jones. The people making up Frost's research team clearly have something invested in the project. Like many of the American people, they are angry that Nixon was granted a pardon by President Ford. They want some kind of admission or guilt and an apology in order to achieve closure.

Frost doesn't care about any of that. He's a playboy and a TV celebrity. He wants to further his career, become famous in America, and make a ton of money at the same time. He manages to convince Nixon to do an interview for his show and sets about soliciting companies and friends to provide the financial backing. But he's really more interested in spending time with his girlfriend (Hall) and experiencing the nightlife.

Frost's next task is to convince his potential team members that he's truly motivated to give Nixon a hard time during the interviews. Once that's done, a contract is drawn up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Sept. 14 2014
Format:DVD
Much appreciated
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  164 reviews
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
By Jana L. Perskie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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
42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near Perfect Filmmaking Feb. 28 2009
By Chris Luallen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive Look Into Frost/Nixon Interviews April 23 2009
By Jym Cherry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ron Howard's Creative License Should Be Suspended July 13 2009
By Jerry P. Danzig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film ...but how accurate is it? Aug. 3 2009
By e. verrillo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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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