Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) - * HIDDEN GEM *

Lemmy guess. You're thinking, "was Nixon assassinated?!"

Genre: Crime Drama Thriller (USA, Mexico)

Starring: Sean Penn (21 Grams; The Interpreter), Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.; King Kong)

Directed By: Niels Mueller

A man down on his luck tries to do what he can to change the world for the better.

Acting: Sean Penn, these days, seems to be taking on very challenging roles. Mystic River was fantastic and he delivers as convincingly in this. This film is an in-depth character study, and the character traits of Samuel Bicke come at us unabated, without a hint of overacting. The character's melodramatic suffering is bang on. As for his surroundings, those other characters who influence him do as brilliantly.
Rating: 10

The effects are subtle, the stresses Samuel feels are well displayed in the camera work. From the scene in the airport where the lights seem too bright, to the one in his friend's garage, where the customer yells at the mechanic, the movie's camera work is innovative and interesting. Very effective.
Rating: 9

"Now that you shaved that mustache, you look like a Family Man, not some schmuck with some pussy on his face."

The movie is very serious, and Samuel has a certain innocence in the way he speaks and sees the world. Character studies are seldom, if ever, good without a really well-written script. This is well done. Nothing cliché, nothing underdone. Samuel and all who influence him have very well-defined characters, and that scene of the loan application...Very funny.
Rating: 8

A character study with a real definite plot! You can't go wrong here. Throughout we see what matters to Samuel, what rubs him the wrong way, and how he deals with his tribulations. The Richard Nixon influence upon his life is made to seem very secondary. I commend the writer for redoubling the focus on the life of the man, rather than the obsession that develops.
Rating: 8

1974 all over the place! The setting and time isn't overwhelming, as it could have been with all that wicker and new-wave post-modern abstract art, porn mustaches, bellbottoms and high collars. The setting places us firmly in '74 while still having enough connect to our present to keep it from being too prevalent. As for the dramatic, this story is very well done, does well at sinking you deep in Samuel's mire.
Rating: 8

70s pants, where they were called slacks... Hoo yeah...

Overall Rating: 86% (Brilliant)

Aftertaste: The movie is really good. The rating I gave it definitely places it in the 'memorable' category, but something about it didn't really connect to me, maybe I'm too young, not having been born by 1974. Like when I watched The Virgin Suicides, I realized that you can make a really good movie and have everything about it be terrific, but ultimately, I'm not one of three sisters living in the suburbs with an overbearing mother. What I mean to say is the everyman aspect of the protagonist in The Assassination of Richard Nixon didn't pull me in as much as I would have liked, though the movie itself was great.