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Nixon (SE)
DVD disk
09.17.2008 By: Jillian Coyle
Nixon (SE) order
Director:
Oliver Stone

Actors:
Anthony Hopkins
Joan Allen
Ed Harris

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Unlike JFK, Oliver Stone’s NIXON is actually based on Nixon’s political life, the Watergate Scandal and his unraveling. Most of the movie is done as one long flashback on Nixon’s life up until his resignation.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Stone seems to be dead set on making movies about powerful men and showing their more vulnerable side. While he fails in this endeavor in ALEXANDER and JFK, he actually does a great job showing Nixon’s mistakes as very human flaws from a guy who had a rough childhood and who was desperate to be loved.

The script was well done, and the use of flashback does a great job of allowing each of the puzzle pieces to come together seamlessly. The flashbacks also keep the pace moving in a movie that could feel like you're sitting in on an incredibly boring meeting between high powered figures instead of being in the middle of the intrigue.

Each of the incredibly talented actors cast give great performances (including Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, Paul Sorvino and James Woods), but Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Nixon is outstanding. Hopkins was perfectly cast in this role; halfway through the movie I forgot he wasn't actually Nixon playing the role himself. It's almost hard to watch as he stutters his way through a nervous breakdown on screen because Hopkins does such a brilliant job making it believable. He was nominated for an Oscar for this role, and he absolutely deserved it. Joan Allen shines as Nixon’s wife, as well. The chemistry between the two and their portrayal of the strains of political life on their relationship manage to humanize him in a way that only his “Checker’s” speech managed to before this film.

Of course, this is an Oliver Stone film, so conspiracies abound. He implicates Nixon in knowing exactly what was happening with the Watergate break in within the first two minutes of the movie, which might make it hard for some to keep from rolling their eyes. If you don't take Stone’s version of history as fact, the movie itself is interesting, dramatic and often moving.
THE EXTRAS
Stone manages to add not one but two commentaries. You may wonder what Stone could possibly say about this movie for 7 hours, but after meeting Stone last year and having the opportunity to talk to him about his movies, I can absolutely say that he did us all a favor; the man could easily have talked about NIXON for another 10 hours.

Commentary #1 with Oliver Stone: Stone comments on some of the “historical” tidbits he knows while focusing more on the making of the film. This one is definitely for the die-hard Stone fans only.

Commentary #2 with Oliver Stone: In this commentary, Stone takes it upon himself to act as an expert and teacher of history. While I’m sure he did plenty of research while making this movie, it seems more than a little pompous for him to be the voice of historical fact. If you're really interested in the history of the time period, it's interesting, but double check his facts before telling them to others.

Deleted Scenes: If you didn’t get enough of Stone talking about this movie in the first TWO commentaries, he starts off the deleted scenes with an introduction about his influences and the making of the film. The deleted scenes add another hour to the already three and a half hour long movie. Unbelievable. Stone pops up again and again to introduce each of the deleted scenes. The content of the scenes are pretty much more of the same. He adds in some more newsreel style footage, outrageous suggestions of things that could have been going on behind the scenes and my personal favorite, a longer scene of hippies going after Nixon’s car while his advisors bash them. I suggest fast forwarding through Stone's commentary to just watch the scenes if you're really curious.

Beyond Nixon: This is a 35-minute long documentary about what other people, primarily movie critics, Nixon’s former aides (including John Dean, White House Counsel) and historians think of the film and comment on the history itself. It's definitely interesting, especially to hear what John Dean has to say.Extra Tidbit: My former professor, Peter Kuznick, is one of the interviewed subjects. He's the toolish looking guy trying to kiss Stone's ass.

Charlie Rose Interviews Oliver Stone: Another 55 minute long extra feature where you can hear Oliver Stone talk about this film, yet again. In my opinion, definitely not worth watching. It's the same stuff you've heard 20 times by now through all of the other special features.

Original Theatrical Trailer: In case you want to watch yet another snippet of this movie…

There are Sneak Peeks for several other movies and TV shows, too.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
NIXON itself is a great movie worthy of owning, but Stone’s shameless self-promotion and unbearable sense of self-importance make any of his special editions DVDs hard to get through.
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