March 18, 2009

Frost/Nixon: Shall we interview

Frost/Nixon was nominated for the 2009 Oscars. Here's a brief review which I cobbled together a week or so back. Don't miss the tidbit at the bottom. It's a riot.

A popular British talk show host called David Frost is interested in interviewing deposed American president - Richard Nixon as Frost believes that a telecast interview would rake in the viewers and make him famous in America where “fame is unlike that in any other place.” Frost stares in nearly an entranced state at the television screen as Nixon resigns and waves at television cameras without a trace of remorse and over 500 million people from across the world watch. The former president has a Hollywood agent to negotiate with the media and see which broadcaster is willing to pay the most for an interview in which Nixon hopes to set the record straight and have people remember him for his achievements and not just Watergate. Frost gets his foot in the door and arranges the interview for which he raises the money on his own steam.

Frost puts together a team of crack researchers, hitches himself onto a damsel and sets about the task of serious socializing. The researchers don’t see much of Frost as he flits from one place to another. The cameras start rolling and Nixon gets his moment in the sun even as Frost looks on entranced; this time the light in his eyes is missing.

Frost has got everything to lose if the project bombs and yet he doesn’t seem to be suitably concerned. He appears to be extremely media savvy in the beginning of the movie and it’s hard to understand that he went in to the duel expecting Nixon to not have prepared iron clad defences. It takes a chance conversation with Nixon to galvanise him. The entire saga is a true story and this bit sounds a bit hard to believe.

Conversations define the movie. The author researcher who’s written four books on Nixon is unable to speak to him in person, the journalist researcher plays Nixon as the team practices mock interviews, the Frost – Nixon conversations and mind games are a great index of how the tables turn and the movie ends with the parties musing if they would’ve been better off if they’d switched places from the very beginning.

Meanwhile, in India when a hardnosed interviewer attempts to speak to a "merchant of death" (forget about extracting a confession!) here's what happens. Enjoy.

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