My second foray into downloading a movie to watch directly onto an iPod Touch was one I suspected, at face value, to be more successful. Previously, I’d checked out Duplicity though, and discovered that the impact of watching a film on a small screen in that case was less than I’d feared. In fact, given that I found myself watching the film from a closer position, I found myself really warming to the idea of watching movies this way. I’ve still not given a full-on action movie a whirl, and the thought of watching something that’s quick and fills the screen, such as Transformers 2 perhaps, is borderline terrifying, but Frost/Nixon struck me as pretty much perfect fodder.
And to an extent, it is. Here’s a quite theatrical film that didn’t really suffer from its more claustrophobic setting, and as such I soon shut out the fact that I was watching it on an iPod altogether. I should point out that I’m still not 100% a convert, but I’m certainly heading in that direction.
As for Frost/Nixon itself, I’d checked it out on Blu-ray earlier this year and on a second run through, it really cemented my thoughts that this is a film of three very distinct acts, that improve in turn. I’m still not particularly keen on the first part of the film, that sets up Frost as a bit of an idiot and Nixon as an unbeatable figure, but do appreciate that it does add to the payoff in the end. In fact, for most of the film, I felt myself waiting for the end, for the titanic struggle that the movie’s ultimately based around.
And that struggle, if you’re not familiar with the story, is a series of television interviews between the-then fairly unknown Frost, and the disgraced former president of the United States, Richard Nixon. The filmmakers are working on the notion that it’s almost a Rocky movie, just one based around, effectively, a conversation rather than a boxing match. And what makes this really work is some sublime casting.
Plaudits have already been reigned on the two leads here, Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost (reprising their roles from the stage production), but it’d be remiss not to throw a few their way myself. They’re both immense here, and even given the impressive supporting cast (hello, Kevin Bacon!), they’re front and centre of everything that really works about Frost/Nixon. Director Ron Howard isn’t for at least the first half of the movie, but when we finally arrive at the interviews themselves, it’s then that he really delivers. The final act of the film is five star stuff, and single-handedly justifies sitting through the middling two thirds that preceded it.
Frost/Nixon is no masterpiece, and there’s an argument that it’s no deserving Best Picture nominee either, but it’s a film with some memorable moments, a pair of outstanding performances, and the most gripping last act I think I’ve seen all year. It’s worth a rental at the very least.