The first thing I picture while watching the Danish-subbed trailer for Frost/Nixon (currently hosted at iKlipz, though perhaps not for long.) is director Ron Howard’s right hand slowly clenching into a fist three years ago as he watched Good Night, and Good Luck. He might not have even realized it was happening. The second thing that comes to mind is the dress-up aspect of the period piece Howard has assembled. While the sideburns and fashion of Zodiac (for example) were never a barrier to entry, here I can’t shake that old high school play feeling, even with the upscale cast. (Frank Langella, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon , etc.) In fact, Bacon’s presence puts me in mind of another shaky period piece, Atom Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies.
Now, everything I know about this movie I learned from Beaks. His Crop Report on the script points out a potential flaw that you can see coming in the first frame of this trailer. “What
Morgan is never able to do effectively – on the page, at least – is
build Nixon up as a sympathetic antagonist. Nixon has always been an
easy target for vilification, but he was also an intellectual who,
throughout his term, scored some remarkable foreign policy victories.” Indeed, you can almost touch lines the villain brush has left on Langella’s face. Then again, what we see here wasn’t chosen for subtlety — check that closing exchange — but that doesn’t mean that the performance that drew raves on stage won’t be waiting on screen.
Frost/Nixon, which dramatizes British talk show host David Frost’s attempt to extract an apology for wrongdoing out of Richard Nixon during a televised interview in 1976, was originally scheduled to open this summer, but now bows on December 5.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey