Frost/Nixon could have been done right, says Rick Olson.
. . . The filmmakers could have gotten it right, but they chose to tell it wrong. There seems to have been an agenda at work that refused to recognize that the apology originated in the Nixon camp. The building up of Frost into a (reluctant) hero would have been blunted by showing that he didn’t wring the apology out of Nixon after all. Howard and Morgan seem to have required that tired, old Hollywood stereotype: the hero who doesn’t start out that way, but who rises to the occasion in the end.
They carry it through to the end of the picture, refusing to recognize that Nixon was actually rehabilitated, to a certain extent, by this interview. According to Aitken, he used the interview as a “springboard” to resurrect a career: he “emerged from the shadows of San Clemente and re-entered the spotlight of public life.” If you believe the movie, Frost was the absolute winner and Nixon continued in limbo, old and broken and tired.
That is the pity of a film like Frost/Nixon: as competent as it is, as well-crafted as it turns out to be, it could have been more. It could have explored the delicious irony that actually happened, that the interview both made Frost’s career and Nixon’s as well, in what Aitken calls a “win-win” situation. Instead, Howard and company insist on pumping up the jam to give us one more black-and-white situation. They seem not to realize that we’re big boys and girls, that we can handle a little complexity, a little un-tidiness, a little gray. Frost/Nixon coulda’ been a contender.
This doesn’t surprise me. I’m still amazed that the chasm between the true story of John Nash and the crowdpleasing fiction called A Beautiful Mind. But audiences thanked Ron Howard for his version of reality, and Hollywood gave him the highest honor they can bestow. They were happy to accept that it was all “based on a true story.” And they said a collective “ahhhhh” when the “happy couple” showed up at the coronation. It’s not that we can’t handle the truth. It’s that we prefer versions that let us believe in “follow your heart” sentiments and that let us stand in judgment over the bad guys. (Here’s my take on Frost/Nixon at Image.)
Dare to brave the hazards of love. Check out the title track of the new Decemberists album on MySpace.
The movie, selected by an international board under this year’s president Tilda Swinton, beat off competition from the Woody Harrelson-starring film The Messenger, and My One And Only, with Renee Zellweger, to take home the Golden Bear award for Best Picture on Saturday.
On receiving the award, Milk Of Sorrow filmmaker Claudia Llosa dedicated the win to her home country.
She said, “This is beautiful… this is such an honour. This is for Peru. This is for our country.”
The runner-up Silver Bear was shared by Uruguay’s Gigante and German drama Everyone Else.
In recent Twitters, NPR’s All Songs Considered has been hinting that they may be broadcasting Leonard Cohen’s first U.S. concert in 15 years.
And speaking of NPR, they started streaming the new Laura Gibson album, Beasts of Seasons, online and it’s beautiful.
More to come, most probably.