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Oliver Stone: Nixon (1995)
Short plot summary

Oliver Stone's dramatization of the life'n'times of one of America's least liked but chinny Presidents.

Not sure how accurate this movie is but it seems to tie all the loose ends together... From the break-in at Watergate, to the carpet bombing of Vietnam and Cambodia, to the end of the Vietnam war and talks with Breshnev (USSR) and Chairman Mao (China).

And then there were those tapes...

What our panel of critics thought

"There was an occasional glance which took me back to my recurrent Silence of the Lambs nightmare. Thankfully Nixon never tried to bite anyone's nose off. Personally I would have strapped Nixon up to a trolley and tightened the face mask to brain squeezing proportions."

"Paul Sorvino is an amazing Henry Kissinger. Bravisimo. Hannibal Lecter does an amazing Nixon too, good effort all round."

"That nice Niles boy from Fraser is in here. What a joy! Thank goodness he does not camp it up."

"It is hard to believe that reel-to-reel tape decks were once at the cutting edge of technology."

"Would you buy a used tape deck from this guy?"

"Why oh why oh why oh why oh why did Nixon ever agree to have all of the Oval Office conversations taped?"

"I was always completely flummoxed by reel-to-reel tape decks - this movie brought my early teenhood back to me. Reel-to-reel tape recorders were simply the worst invention ever. I cannot remember a time when I didn't get into a tangle (saved only by my pair of trusty scissors) any time I tried to listen to my tapes. I cried for joy when they invented the cassette tape even though the audio quality was inferior."

"As claustrophobic as that scene in Star Wars where the walls close in the sewerage disposal room but without the dampness."

Please tell me the ending or plot overview if necessary

Tricky Dicky finally resigns, in his usual puddle of sweat, after beating himself up over not being Jack Kennedy. Was Nixon the sweatiest president ever? It's a great performance by Anthony Hopkins who gets the awkwardness in front of the TV cameras and in his general people skills down to a tee.

The movie tells it's tale in flashback form, although the ending is where Nixon leave the White House for the last time, and thankfully we are spared the Pulp Fiction style circularity.

It's an effectively stylised piece. Nixon resigns before they can impeach him and President Ford eventually pardons him so that he doesn't have to go to jail.

Dr Bravisimo-Encore II Movie Review

A magnificent achievement, encapsulating, into a botty numbing 3 hours, a lifetime of controversial political achievement. The lesson of Nixon's life seems to be that quitting isn't a half bad option after all.

Nixon comes over as a thoroughly moodly, confused, self loathing lump of a man with few redeeming features. Certainly not someone to go bowling with. But it is difficult to imagine that someone can be so successful in politics without some charm.

The movie is superbly paced and is not chronological which means that the boring early years are used in flashback as an explanation to why Nixon turned out the way he did (a dominant mother whom he tried to please ('let me be your faithful dog')).

On a lighter note: Did I notice dear Madeline Kahn in a bit part? Yes indeed I did. The woman was a joy to watch even in the smallest of roles: those 1960's sunglasses were simply made for her. RIP my dear.

Other comments

A superbly directed movie of one of the low lights of a president's term in office.

See also comedy reviews of JFK, All The President's Men.

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