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Posts Tagged ‘choke’

Frost/Nixon: Bringing the Fight to the People

Posted by goldwriting on December 7, 2008

frostnixonmovie Did I have your phone tapped? Your voice sounds so familiar…

Rating: 9 out of 10

There are few things in life as exciting or exhilarating as watching a good fight. Maybe it’s the primate in us, a deep evolutionary need to see two people beat the piss out of each other in order to prove dominance. Maybe it’s the need to see a champion, someone we can look up to and model our own lives after. Or, on a slight chance, it’s the glimmer of hope we huddle around to keep us warm and keep our dreams from fading away, the dream that one day someone will topple the champ and change the world forever. Now you might think those emotions only get woken up during a purely physical battle, but if so, you are truly missing out on some of the best battles in human history. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated seven times in 1858 for control of the Illinois legislature and those verbal fencing matches were a preview of the power and eloquence with which Lincoln would bring to bear in his time as President. Almost exactly one hundred years later, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon took to the airwaves for the first ever televised debate between Presidential candidates. Those four on-air matches drew numerous comparisons to their predecessors of nearly a century before. Even in our latest election a highlight truly arrived during our one and only debate between Vice-Presidential candidates, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. While it might not have been the intelligence and skill in the fight we were all watching for, it still made for captivating television.

Yet one thing all those previous moments lacked was the dark cloud of obvious guilt and shame hanging over the head of Richard Nixon after he resigned the Presidency in disgrace over the Watergate scandal. A man who achieved amazing and brilliant things during his time in office was forced to step down and hang his head for something he was arguably not the first to do, just the first to get caught red-handed. I’m not defending Nixon, but in the context of political history, including any number of the documented and undocumented crimes committed by our still reigning President, Nixon was a lightweight. But for the American people of the 1960’s, his betrayal of the public office was the lowest they had seen a President stoop to and they demanded action. After newly sworn-in President Ford issued a complete and unequivocal pardon of Nixon, it seemed as though the American people were going to have to drink and eat whatever they could get their hands on to cover up the bad taste. But then one man stepped up to the plate, determined to give the people exactly what they wanted.

This is not just a history lesson; this is the premise and plot of Ron Howard‘s new film, Frost/Nixon. David Frost was a British talk show host who came up with the idea of interviewing Nixon after his resignation, but his original motives were not entirely altruistic. Mainly, he was a master of television audiences and he could feel the ratings he would get for such an interview would be outrageous. Once he locked the interview in place however, it became a monster he almost couldn’t control. The film is incredibly small in scale, beginning the year where Frost came up with the idea and ending within days after the interview was concluded. We get to see the build up to the big interview, but the actual recorded and tastefully lit chat between the two characters is really the lynch-pin on which the whole film rests. Thinking about the premise beforehand, it’s hard to imagine there being an incredible amount of tension in the movie-going audience, especially since we know what happens, but quality filmmaking and intelligent storytelling can make any old story seem new once again. By the time Frost and Nixon sit across from each other, microphones pinned to their lapels, handkerchiefs folded and makeup invisibly applied, the intensity is palpable. It was akin to watching a heavyweight boxing match, except one contender had never really felt the blow of a well-landed punch before. Once he does, the fear in his eyes truly brings the audience into his mindset. Luckily for us, both in the theater and in history, fear that might make some men run will make others fight all that much harder.

Ron Howard has been making movies for a number of years now and won a number of accolades and critical acclaim, but Frost/Nixon might end up topping them all. With a very simple story he found a way to display two very non-simple people. There is tension, anticipation and weight all brought to bear on a simple interview which ended up changing the lives of not only the people in the chairs, but the worldwide audience as well. Howard also got his two lead actors gift-wrapped, Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. Both actors originally played their roles on stage to massive acclaim, so heading into the movie, they had these characters down cold. There is definitely a difference between playing a role on stage and playing it on film, but the internal work and preparation by these actors is a virtual treasure chest in comparison to what you get on most film sets. The moment they appear on screen, you can feel the depth and skill both actors gained from all their time put in. Frank Langella disappears into Nixon, truly embodying Nixon’s confident walk and sweeping movements of his arms, his imposing intrusion into people’s personal space, and finally the stoop — which on anyone else would have made them look old, but with Nixon is just made him look dangerous and determined. On the other side of the ring, we have Michael Sheen, who shined as David Frost, the plucky and charming television talk show host. There are some moments where Sheen is just listening to Langella rant on and on and Sheen displays an amazing level of intensity, fear and nearly overwhelming nervousness just by using his eyes. He doesn’t even have to move to show the wave after wave of emotional turmoil this man goes through while trying to go toe-to-toe with “Tricky Dick”. Both actors are strong contenders for nominations in the award season.

Beyond the powerhouse duo in front, there is a wealth of strong supporting cast. Sam Rockwell, one of Hollywood’s best go-to character actors, delivers an impassioned performance as James Reston Jr., one of the researchers on Frost’s team. He is the emotional anchor for the team, representing the anger, fury and bitter disappointment of the American people, and if there is one thing Rockwell does better than anything else, it’s playing disappointment and disdain (try poking your head into almost any scene in Choke). Right alongside Rockwell is another amazing talent, Oliver Platt, who plays Bob Zelnick, the more political structure based portion of Frost’s team. Platt continues to do his thing with great talent and shine without ever stealing scenes or trying to make the moment about him. He can be the star of the show if cast that way, but his true talent is blending into an ensemble and making everyone around him better for it. If you’ve never really experienced Platt, I would happily and heartily suggest Casanova and The Three Musketeers, both brilliant comedic performances. A little on the lesser-known side is Matthew Macfadyen, who plays John Birt, Frost’s manager, who continually rallies the troops and sticks by his side even when things are at their most bleak. Macfadyen brought a great sense of strength and loyalty that kept the audience in check and never giving up on Frost and his ultimate goal. As if we needed another name to add to the list, this will benefit all those addicts of the “Six Degrees” game, Kevin Bacon plays Jack Brennan, Nixon’s Chief of Staff and most devoted servant. Bacon lays it on thick, the dogged determination and defense of Nixon, even in the final moments when it all is slipping away. A solid job from an incredibly consistent actor.

Recommendation: If you like movies about important moments in American History, you should like this. If you like Ron Howard films, you should like this. If you like purely character pieces, you should like this. If you are looking for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, you might wanna move on by. Lastly, if you are like me and try to watch everything on the Oscar nominated list, I’m putting good money this film will end up on there somewhere, whether for acting, directing or writing. Save yourself the rush of trying to track it down during awards season and catch it now.
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Imaginary Hotness to Realistic Greatness: A day in the life of…(5/30)

Posted by goldwriting on May 30, 2008

1 – Let’s be honest, it really doesn’t matter what this movie is about, people…err…dudes are going to see this. (Coincidentally, I did already know what Witchblade is about since it is another comic book adaptation. Could be an awesome flick, but I’m reserving judgment until I see some actual footage, not just actual skin) [via FilmDrunk]

2 – What happens when the ex-White House Press Secretary writes a book about working in the Bush administration? Political sh*t storm. There’s already been plenty of people still in the administration to come out and condemn/tear down Scott McClellan, but you can be sure there will be more before this goes away. You can read an excerpt through the link and see that he doesn’t necessarily say that Bush is an idiot at all, just that he was horribly misled and deceived by the people in his own cabinet. I’m not sure which scenario makes my stomach turn more, but it’s time for a political antacid. [via Wall Street Journal]

3 – For those lucky ducks with nice new IBooks or MacBook Pros (you can add in the Mac Air, but I am still holding out on calling people lucky for having those), you can all enjoy some neat style and comfort along with protection for your expensive baby gadget. Since it looks kinda like an airmail pouch, you can convince people you are just always on the move. You jet-setter, you. [via JoshSpear]

4 – Is this just a glimpse into Jon’s mind or have we all started to hear burp from invisible fat cats? I think it’s time to refill my Xanax prescription. [via Garfield Minus Garfield]

5 – As excited as I am to buy and read Snuff, the new book from Chuck Palanhuik, that thrill only gets bumped up more by the first trailer being released for the newest movie in his adaptation train of films, Choke. I’m already interested since it is Chuck’s book, but you add uber-talented Sam Rockwell in as the sex-crazed, morally depraved lead role, a part he might have been born to play, well then, you had me at “Choke”. [via FilmDrunk]

6 – This is why we don’t want artificial intelligence. Eventually even the machines will be perverted. [via GorillaMask]

7 – I always wondered why Robin’s costume was so feminine. The truth is just shocking sometimes. [via GorillaMask via Crave Online]

8 – A little kid skates under forty cars and these people celebrate like he won independence for the country. Someone get these people cable TV stat! [via Pandachute]

9 – Not the greatest production value for this imagined conversation between Iron Man and Batman, but I chuckled quite a few times on my way through, so take that video! Advantage = Audio. [via Yikers]

10 – Everyone has dreams and everyone has projects they want to accomplish, but we hold ourselves back way more than we realize (or want to realize), but comedian Kyle Cease is not going to let us flounder in mediocrity. He’s writing a daily blog post for the next month where he is detailing one or more things each and every day he is doing to better his life and his career. The more pumped up he gets about it, the more he wants to inspire others, so take a moment or two to catch up on this blog and see if he can’t help give you that little kick in the ass we all need to start the ball rolling. Trust me, it’s not as hard as it seems to make that move from where you are to where you want to be. [via MySpace]

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Daily Musings 3/21

Posted by goldwriting on March 21, 2008

1 – One of my favorite twisted souls in the literary world is Chuck Palahnuik, author of newfound classics Fight Club, Choke, Diary, Haunted and many others. On his home site it was just updated with the plotline for his upcoming book titled, Pygmy:

I’ve just finished the first draft of a novel called “Pygmy,” a dark comedy about terrorism and racism. The lead character is a 13-year-old foreign exchange student sent to live with a suburban, white, middle-class family. Oh, and they’re Christians. The visit is for six months, and he’s one of a dozen similar kids, all shipped to America to live with typical families.

The secret truth is that Pygmy is a terrorist, trained since infancy in martial arts, chemistry and radical hatred of the United States. He has six months to build a prize-winning project for the National Science Fair. If he succeeds, he and his project will go to Washington, D.C. for the finals competition — where the project will explode, killing millions.

So far, Gerry Howard says it’s the best book I’ve done. Fingers crossed for luck.

Yep, I’m prepared once again to be amazed and shocked by the words this man puts down. The wall of genius inside his head fell down long, long ago and now it all just flows out like creepy, creepy water. [via The Cult]

2 – Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford better step aside, because the baddest dude on the block is jumping on the comeback train and it could be the one we were waiting for. Clint Eastwood has announced he is making another Dirty Harry film, currently titled Gran Tornio, referring to the car the villain drives in the film. Unless Charles Bronson comes back from the dead, Eastwood is going to bring the toughest, craziest, meanest SOB back on the screen once again. [via Starpulse]

3 – A new trailer for Get Smart is here. New jokes, new explosions, new reasons to be insanely jealous of anyone who gets to be around Anne Hathaway. [via FilmDrunk]

4 – Oh my God! Oh my God! G.I.Nerd Boner!!!! Let me introduce you all to the awesomeness that is Ray Park as Snake Eyes in the new G.I.Joe flick (there is another pic through here as well) [via ComingSoon]


5 – At what point did the French become the ‘nice people’ in the global community? President Nicholas Sarkozy, while he might be a tad on the weird side in other aspects, has made a huge move by cutting France’s nuclear arsenal to down to 300. I’m hoping he is doing this out of a desire for peace and global disarmament and not because he saw the movie 300 and thinks all his nukes will suddenly become buff, shirtless warriors flying through the skies screaming, “THIS IS LA FRANCE!!!” [via CNN]

6 – There are mysteries in the world we are just not meant to solve, but luckily this is not one of them. Now you can create and enjoy your very own batch of Twinkies in the safety and fluorescent glow of your kitchen. The real kick when we start experimenting with the mystery filling…(get your mind out of the gutter people! I’m talking about filling it with Nerds, or maybe cookie dough. Jeez) [via Uncrate]

7 – People laughed at me when I said I felt watched, but now I know:

[via tcritic and icanhascheezburger]

8 – I can’t explain the genetic code that makes watching things blow up at 5000 frames per second so cool, but why explain it, just sit back, enjoy the opera music and witness the ballet of destruction unfold. [via GorillaMask and Spongefish]

9 – I hate things that come along and make me feel bad for enjoying the things I do. I feel like I might need to take a hot shower before playing Guitar Hero again. [via GorillaMask]

10 – OK, here’s the shameless plug for the week. My friend and I run a t-shirt line called Off the Ledge Tees. It took a long time for the webstore to get up and running smoothly, but now that it is, we are pleased to toss out some discount love to those people in our circles. So, if you go to the store, put in this code: HYSG82AS and you’ll receive the lovely gift of 15% off the order. Isn’t that special? You can also jump to the site through the “T-Shirt of the Week” link on the top right corner of the page. Enjoy!

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