The Screening Room Blog
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Is 'Frost/Nixon' the thinking man's 'Rocky?'


LONDON, England -- I've just watched the stunning "Frost/Nixon," a feature that boasts exceptional acting performances, with Frank Langella’s portrayal of disgraced U.S President Richard Nixon a standout.

Director Ron Howard should also be praised for his careful, considered depiction of the runup to one of the most watched TV moments in modern American politics.

The film starts in the aftermath of the 1973 Watergate scandal. Following Nixon’s resignation, television presenter David Frost attempts to raise sufficient capital to tempt the ex-president into a TV interview. Nixon duly agrees thinking, along with most of the world, that he is more than an intellectual match for his interrogator and will simply steamroll over him and reconstruct his badly tarnished public image.

Framed intimately in a behind-the-scenes setting, the audience are introduced to the characters of both Frost and Nixon and treated to a refreshingly human look at their contrasting egos and frailties.

Both men share similar desires for public rehabilitation and resurgence -- but before long it appears that only one of them will be able to achieve this. The result is an intellectual fight to the political death that has led some critics to describe the film as “the thinking man’s 'Rocky'."

Peter Morgan’s highly-praised play is just as impressive as a feature and Sheen and Langella are well supported with an array of acting talent that includes Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones and Matthew Macfadyen.

One of the film's most startling achievements is to create if not sympathy then at least a degree of empathy for a character of such historical notoriety as Nixon -- and it's credit to Howard, Morgan, the cast and the crew.

An early tip for Oscar recognition, "Frost/Nixon" appeals simply as a character study and maintains both intrigue and tension throughout, even to those who have no interest in politics. No mean feat for an event so widely covered at the time.

Frost/Nixon has its world premiere on October 15 as part of the London Film Festival Opening Gala.

From CNN's Simon Laub

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
'Frost/Nixon' to open London Film Festival
LONDON, England -- "All the best things happen in the dark, and that's all that matters," London Film Festival Artistic Director Sandra Hebron quipped to an audience of more than 300 reporters in a nice twist on some of the Hadron Collider stories that have been dominating the headlines recently.

She was talking at London Film Festival's own bid to grab some headlines with its announcement of the line-up for this year's event.

The opening reel unwinds on October 15th with the world premiere of "Frost/Nixon," director Ron Howard's adaptation of Peter Morgan's stage play about the historic encounter between British TV showman David Frost and the disgraced ex-U.S. President three years after Watergate. Watch a clip from the film below.

Another American President comes under the spotlight at LFF in the shape of George W. Bush. Oliver Stone has aldready tackled Nixon and JFK on-screen and now turns his attention to Bush in "W." It is already causing controversy in the U.S. as it is a rare feature about an incumbent President.

A recent feature of the London Film Festival is to make use of the city's landmark venues. Hence the world premiere of the latest Bond movie "Quantum of Solace," which will be shown free in an open-air screening in Trafalgar Square moments after it's world premiere in nearby Leicester Square. It's hoped the stars might wander the short distance from one venue to the other to delight their fans.

Former Bond girl Eva Green is among the stars expected to shine in London this year. Hollywood-hunters can look forward to the likes of Peter O'Toole, Penelope Cruz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro and Rachel Weisz as well as directorial delights from Steven Soderbergh, Michael Winterbottom and Danny Boyle

Boyle is currently the focus of critical acclaim at Toronto Film Festival with his latest film "Slumdog Millionaire." It is the rags-to-riches story of a boy from Mumbai who becomes a star on the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," and it will close LFF on October 30th.

-- From CNN's Neil Curry

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