Monday, December 29, 2008


Washington is shut down this week so our leaders are unlikely to produce anything particularly outrageous. During the long holiday weekend I passed the time dodging presents and watching movies.

Two movies, mainly - FROST/NIXON and STUCK.

FROST/NIXON is a mighty rich stew. A backstage account of the big TV interview of the late seventies, it's as much about entertainment as it is about politics, and the interview is as much gladiator match as it is interview. The thing I took away from it is the notion that both of these men, Frost and Nixon, were depending on that 4 night series to save their reputations and ensure their future incomes. Nixon needed a forum to tell his side of the story, thus increasing his speaking fees and bookings, and Frost needed Nixon to admit wrongdoing or his tremendous personal investment would buy an unsalable white elephant of TV programming.

And both men almost fatally underestimated their opponents, though I have to admit I can't blame Nixon for underestimating Frost. For the most part he was right. Had Frost not been so backed into a corner he'd have never summoned the cajones to to deliver that fourth night coup de grace. Forgive the mixed languages. In any event, recommended viewing.

The other movie was an oddball DVD rental, STUCK. The latest project from REANIMATOR maestro Stuart Gordon, this is based on a much smaller true story, about a young rest home nurse who accidentally hits a homeless man as she drives home from a club. He goes head first through her windshield. In shock and a little high on Ecstasy, assuming he's dead, she takes the car home and parks in the garage, only to discover the next morning that he's alive, demanding help. Only she won't help because she fears jail time and the loss of her job.

So again, it's a contest. The man (Stephen Rea) struggles to separate himself from the car, the girl (Mena Suvari in mulatto-face) tries to figure out a way to kill him so he won't talk, then dispose of the body and put the whole incident behind her.

There possibly is a larger message here about how society feels about the homeless, but Gordon thankfully has other fish to fry. Metaphorical content is left to fend for itself as the situation plays itself out. This is a story that Hitchcock would have loved to make - a limited area to work with, opportunities for absurd comedy ("Why are you doing this to me?" the girl whines to her windshield prisoner at one point) and minute, suspenseful attempts to survive. The only thing missing was bizarre camera angles.

If you remember the news story this is based on, know that the movie ends differently. Good choices Stuart! Also casting a white woman as a light-skinned black woman. It seemed a little weird at first, but it took some of the curse off the situation. The last thing you'd want is black villains in this peice and no matter how she looks on screen, ain't nobody whiter than Mena Suvari.


Publius said...

I'm surprised you aren't all over yourself to say how great "Milk" is. Even though the whole movie is one giant lie from beginning to end, it's getting some overhyped praise.

wamk said...

"Milk" will of course win the Oscar for "Best Picture".

Hollywood has to show that they are more enlightened than the Prop 8 folks, right?

Danielk said...

Guilty liberal admission: I probably won't see MILK. Sean Penn always winds up overacting and grasping for Oscars; and I have to confess I always feel a little uneasy around gay men.

I'm curious Publius - how do you know it's a lie? You saw it?

Hollywood, by the way, IS more enlightened than the Prop 8 folks. At least on that subject.

Publius said...

Didn't see it. Read about it from several sources. It ignores the man;s REAL life and makes a gauzy, fake, untrue one up out of whole cloth.

Then again, this is why I almost NEVER like a movie that is supposed to be based on real people. Hollywood almost NEVER gets history correct.

Danielk said...

Neither do historians, really.

Publius said...

..neither do they like Hollywood?