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Frost/Nixon 

Exit Interview

Who knew Opie Taylor had this in him? The faux-documentary Frost/Nixon is blood sport and a blast at that, a dusty political drama in the guise of a knockdown, drag-out boxing bout. It's a classic mano a mano that falsely electrifies the context of the grainy 1977 interviews that inspired it. But that sin is easily forgiven. As a piece of bravura filmmaking, it's the highpoint of Ron Howard's fascinating canon, which seems to exhibit cinematic bipolar disorder; he followed The Grinch (2000) with A Beautiful Mind (2001) and now The Da Vinci Code with this. (Next up: Da Vinci sequel Angels & Demons, a call for intervention if ever there was one.) Adapted by Peter Morgan from his acclaimed 2006 play and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen (who reprise their stage roles), the taut picture details the British TV personality's unlikely turn in the ring with the biggest, trickiest Dick of all. Sheen's transformation of Frost from slight pretty boy to prosecutor is a treat to witness, but he's nearly swallowed by the towering shadow of Langella's Nixon, a portrait of glowering self-righteousness and repressed rage that practically gobbles up the screen. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

(R)

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt

click to enlarge 2008 UNIVERSAL PICTURES
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