When youíre adapting a hit stage production into a movie, itís a wise move to use the original actors if they grasp the nuances of performing in front of a camera as opposed to a live audience. Itís an even wiser move to have a filmmaker behind the camera capable of guiding that transition to make it work on the big screen or DVD. Itís a formula followed to good effect in this semi-factual docudrama set around the 1977 televised interviews of disgraced American president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) by British small-screen personality David Frost (Michael Sheen). Both actors reprise their stage roles with Langella (GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK) doing an especially superior job of embodying the 37th commander in chief and avoiding any kind of imitation. Directed by Ron Howard (A BEAUTIFUL MIND), the filmís first half plays out like the post-Watergate follow-up to ALL THE PRESIDENTíS MEN (1976) before Peter Morganís screenplay arrives at the four verbal boxing matches between the title characters. Implied in the narrative is the premise that the two ďcombatantsĒ each have their motives for going public with Langella portraying the former leader of the free world as the kind of Shakespearean tragic figure attempting to confront the flaw that brought him down. Even if the sequence depicting a nighttime alcohol-fueled telephone call by a drunken Nixon to Sheen (THE QUEEN) is pure fiction, itís also compelling drama that retains your attention because youíre seeing a couple of actors who understand their material and how to portray it in a different medium utilizing it for maximum impact.
EXCELLENT MOVIES TO WATCH WITH YOUR SWEETHEART THIS VALENTINEíS WEEKEND (in alphabetical order): ANNIE HALL (1977), THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995), BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945), CASABLANCA (1942), LOVE STORY (1970), SAY ANYTHINGÖ(1989), TITANIC (1997), THE WAY WE WERE (1973), WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)
MOVIES TO WATCH IF YOU WANT TO DUMP YOUR SWEETHEART: The new FRIDAY THE 13 TH (2009), HEíS JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (2009), MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009), WHOíS AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966)