Sunday, January 25, 2009

Crimes and Missed Demeanours


Gosh, but Frost/Nixon is a fine movie. Michael Sheen's great in it (that wonderful Frostian mixture of feckless charm and hard determination), Matthew MacFadyen (far more handsome and charasmatic than the real John Birt!), Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell and Kevin Bacon all give fine support but the guy who really deserves his Oscar this year is the wonderful Frank Langella. He doesn't look, especially, like Richard Nixon but he's got the voice and, more importantly, that unlovable arrogance barely hidden behind the eyes absolutely spot-on. I know they've taken some liberties, via careful editing, with what was actually said and the context in which it was said (I noticed one critic describing it as "self-congratulatory revisionism") but, when viewed purely as a piece of cinema rather than a historical documentary, it's damn near perfect. Watch this straight after The Right Stuff, JFK, Almost Famous and All the President's Men and you've got a potted history of US cinema's view of its own social recent history. I must say, also, I was very impressed with the way Ron Howard filmed the thing. It's very easy for a director adapting a stageplay to go mad with his locations when "opening out" a script that's previously been confined by the theatre that it takes place in. Ron - a beautifully sympathetic director of claustrophobic situations (Apollo 13, for instance) - here keeps the temptation to be maddeningly over-the-top in check. Highest recommendation.

Mind you, I'm starting to become very annoyed by the experience of going to the cinema these days. Not so much for the fact that a cleaner chucked the seven - perfectly comfortable - paying punters out of the screening room five minutes before the due start time because the place hadn't been cleaned from the last movie the night before (and, it's not like it was a breakfast showing, it was twenty past noon!) But rather it's that, seemingly, it has now become impossible for me to sit still for two hours without my bladder screaming out in impatience at me. When did I get old? How did that happen? Did I miss the memo or what?!

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