Frost/Nixon

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In an interview with Rolling Stone, “August: Osage County” playwright, Tracy Letts, said the difference between watching a movie and a play is “…the way people take them in. You don’t work as hard to watch a movie. You work harder to watch a play, so what the audience puts into it is interesting.” Going to the movies is definitely a communal experience, but watching a play can be an intense experience because you are not simply escaping into a story as a passive viewer, you are in a theater with the actors, the presence making you a participant in the overall experience. Before the premiere of the film adaptation of August: Osage County at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, Letts expanded on this comparison saying, “There are a lot of people in a room [when watching a play] and everyone is a living person as opposed to an image that’s already been shot. Meryl Streep is not in the house tonight, just her picture’s up there, so it’s a different experience.” Movies allow for quick location changes and close ups of an actor’s face, but the feeling of being in the same room with an actor is lost when it’s solely their image on a screen – and that is where music comes in.

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I have a pet theory that Ron Howard is like Spielberg without all the cinephile love. They’ve both done broad genre work, fantasy adventure and prestige films that earned Oscars. They’ve had giant successes in just about every realm, and they’ve also had monumental failures. They also both continually push to learn new things, both from a content standpoint and technical perspective. It’s also impressive that Howard has evolved so thoroughly that we often don’t even think about him as a child actor who emerged to continued success. For several generations, Howard has always been a sophisticated filmmaker with a wry sense of humor and a keen ability to deliver a fist-pumping moment of Hollywood satisfaction. Every once in a while, the realization that he’s been in the industry since he was six hits home and puts his career into both a surprising and completely sensible context. Of course he’s done what he’s done…and yet how many child actors can make the same claim (or have enjoyed the same enormity of success)? So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who just can’t grow a beard as well as Spielberg.

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Amongst all the star cameos in Lee Daniels’s late-summer hit The Butler, one performance stands out as a particularly curious bit of stunt casting. John Cusack, with nary any make-up, a slight gruff in his voice, carrying that aura of meandering disinterest and slight condescension he’s fine-tuned for nearly a decade struts onto the screen as none other than Richard Milhous Nixon. Cusack’s turn as Nixon is both ingenuously lazy and charmingly surreal – no effort is made to convince the audience that the man onscreen is anybody but John Cusack (in contrast to Liev Schreiber’s Norbit-esque turn as LBJ), yet the continued reference toward Cusack as one of modern history’s most readily recognizable and continually invoked Commanders in Chief has a certain Dadaist charm to it, as if Daniels and Cusack were admitting playfully that this was simply yet another star turn and that Nixon was too large and imposing a historical figure to channel with any serious effort for a film not about Nixon. Nixon himself, of course, probably wouldn’t stand for a film not about Nixon. Nixon is a figure that refuses to leave public consciousness. The central subject of more narrative films than any modern President, Nixon’s endless contradictions, standalone history, and almost inscrutable public appeal has provided a subject of endless fascination for storytellers of all stripes, from John Adams to Robert Altman. Here’s an overview of the 37th President’s cinematic highlights.

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My interview with the Iron Man 2 star that has nothing to do whatsoever with Cowboys and Aliens.

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Apparently it’s now called Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, and legendary actor Frank Langella will be joining the cast in a pivotal role.

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Don’t call it a come back on the account of the Blu-ray Report charging in with awesome recommendations, call it a comeback because Mickey Rourke is making his comeback in HD this week.

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When it comes to choosing prisoner roles, call Sam Rockwell Mr. Recidivism. He’s ready to walk the green mile once again in Betty Anne Waters.

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Fans of The Dark Knight were pleased to find out that The Producers Guild of America (PGA) nominated it as one of the five best films of the year, right alongside Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk.

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I don’t see the point when every aspect of Frost/Nixon is excellent, from Ron Howard’s direction to Salvatore Totino’s cinematography to Peter Morgan’s stirring screenplay.

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As is customary this time of year, it is my duty (and honor) to present you my list of the Ten Best Films of 2008. And in the past year we’ve seen an interesting range of films, have we not?

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Over the past two weeks, both THR and Daily Variety have been taken over by Universal and Imagine Entertainment’s Frost/Nixon, a serious Best Picture candidate. The question becomes whether or not this kind of advertising coup is fair to other films.

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No one likes a sell out. But selling out goes both ways. This time of year, directors sell out in a different way. I’m talking about all the major mainstream Hollywood directors who “sell out” to do the award film released at the end of the year.

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Are you an awards season junkie? Do you love to be able to sit there and look smart in front of your friends and family, most of whom only make it out to the movies once a year to see the latest Jim Carrey comedy, by being able to talk endlessly about all of the “important” movies of the year? If so, consider this your awards season to-do list.Fr

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees for the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards today, laying out what is generally regarded as a relatively accurate precursor to the Academy Awards nominations.

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I currently have 28 different DVDs of award films that various studios have sent me. That’s about 50 or 60 hours of movies to get through in the next two weeks before the nomination window opens… in addition to the other seven mainstream movies I have to see in the next week.

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FSR

Kevin Carr looks at Punisher: War Zone, Frost/Nixon and Timecrimes, in theaters this week with the FSR Report Card.

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The Punisher

It sure doesn’t look like you’ll be dodging too many crowds to see too many new movies this weekend — everyone’s started Christmas shopping.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil drive a Cadillac through the War Zone and take some shots at David Frost and Richard Nixon. They continue with their proselytizing for the cause of Fatguyenatics and the Church of Fatguyentology, in which they canonize their first patron saint.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Brian Gibson loves to buy DVDs. Come with him on his weekly journey into the depths of credit card debt as he tells you what to buy, rent and avoid.

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Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in Frost/Nixon

Yesterday we posted, and then were promptly asked to remove the first teaser trailer for Ron Howard’s upcoming film Frost/Nixon. Oddly enough, the official release of the domestic trailer came today.

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