Friday, February 1, 2008

Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard, and What I Said to Richie Cunnigham...

As a part of the Carla Kuhn series at Columbia we got to see a rough cut of Ron Howard's film "Frost/Nixon." Quite interesting, especially for one who didn't live through the scandal. It also felt quite topical in light of current political situations vs. the media, etc. I really thought it was important to observe how Ron Howard humanized the cold and grumbly ex-president, whom I have never observed from an internal-conflict standpoint. I really think it is important to remember that these guys are all human beings and yes their choices may be stupid, wrong, and sometimes even calculating and evil--but they are still humans and they suffer and feel lonely and want to be accepted and are afraid, etc., etc. As a director Howard has the ability to tap into those obviously fictionalized, but really could have been moments from people's lives. I would recommend the film--it was based on a play by Peter Morgan, and adapted for the screen by him. Morgan wrote "The Queen," another introspective, largely fictionalized, yet deeply human look at an otherwise cold and removed figure-head. I loved that film, and wouldn't say that this film is the same. Where "The Queen" simply placed the viewer in a position of uninterrupted observance through the traditional shot/reverse-shot methods, "Frost/Nixon" was shot in a documentary style, but was also infused with the emotionally shaping use of push-ins, rack focuses, and quasi-ominous leitmotifs (Hans Zimmer)--all acknowledged by Howard as means by which the stage-play (starring the same two actors as Frost and Nixon--incredibly portrayed by Michael Sheen and Frank Langella) could be translated into a compelling visual story that was otherwise character driven.

Now about Richie, Opey, Oscar-Nominated director--no he didn't wear a hat. Yes I am taller than him--and he really does look old enough to have a daughter that may or may not have been blind during "The Village"--ask Tammy. And Jordan, he is definitely WAY too old to be your boyfriend--just rent "American Graffiti" and dream about what might have been. We had questions for him--but why he came was really to ask us about the film--where to shave (not his scruff, the actual length of the film, etc.), was the music too manipulative or not enough--how did certain parts read with regard to character and whose story it was, etc., etc. I told him that the "where are they now" text at the end wasn't necessary as it detracted from the final more important introspective moments of the film. I also told him that the flashy Donna Summer theme that signified David Frost's hip reemergence as a world-renowned journalist was cut off too abruptly and that the transition from that to the next cut should have been smoother. The latter response I don't think I could have given had I not completed my first semester toward the MFA.

Please enjoy the blurred photo from my phone of our young friend waiting for the elevator in Dodge Hall that I inconspicuously took in front of his assistants.

By the way--my semester is going great--although even busier than last semester. I feel like I come home for lunch, dinner, and maybe get to sleep. My writing professor Jason Lucero is a really neat guy and I think he is just the right kick in the pants I'll need to get my first feature length script completed by May 1st!!!

PS--Bonus photo--I sat in the front row of another CK screening last semester while my professor June Stein interviewed John Turturro--whom I love. The two actually originated John Patrick Shanley's "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" years ago on Broadway. I had a dream the other night that somehow involved "Secret Window" and he was that scary guy in the black hat. You may also enjoy him in such films as "Unstrung Heroes," "Oh Brother, Where art Thou?" and "Quiz Show." (Again taken with the phone--I pretended I was texting someone--I should be a paparazzi, no?)

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Oh dear. I'm back to being jealous again! Just when I was finally starting to enjoy my own life... :)
That sounds like a great exercise for you Justin, I would have REALLY loved it. And I'm sure you're right about the 'where are they now' text, (those almost always upset the balance of the rest of the film), but I like them anyway! (my little way of sticking it to the story-structure man!)
I'm doing a lot more travelling this year, and working on lots of great projects that are challanging and exciting, but I really do miss the academic world. I've decided this job is just one long production class, and I love feeling myself grow as I add new 'I can do that!'s to my little list of abilities. Sounds like this degree is doing that for you too - and that makes me excited for you.
Next week I'm off to MacKay in North Queensland for 4 days to shoot an oil rig wharf from boats on the ocean, and then the following week I'm headed to Perth to interview some executives from a big construction company and shoot some of a big road construction site they're working on. (And when I say 'shoot' of course, I mean that the Camera Man will do that bit for me... haha!)
Give it a couple of years, and we should be ready to start that company :)

Make sure you sleep!
:) Tammy