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Frost/Nixon

Saturday, December 13, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I expected to dislike it, assuming that it would –as other biographers and directors have done– miss the complexity of RN and ignore his massive achievements or remarkable career.

But Frost/Nixon hit the mark, largely because of an amazing performance by Frank Langella as Nixon, which should earn him the Oscar. I joined RN’s staff in late 1978, more than a year after the Frost interviews, and they never mattered much in the conversations around Casa Pacifica. But Langella conveyed the imposing presence of the 37th president, a presence that flowed from having been at the center of events from 1948 forward, a participant in five presidential campaigns, a maker of war and peace, and a colleague of every world leader from Churchill through the end of the age of Reagan.

The movie’s closing moments misstate the significance of Nixon’s career after he emerged from exile and moved to New York in the spring of 1980. But the film does do justice to Nixon’s intellect and hints at his greatest triumphs, and even does a fair job of conveying Nixon’s own view of his fall.

Though Langella dominates the film and Michael Sheen’s Frost does not attempt to wrestle the spotlight away, two other performances are memorable. Kevin Bacon nails Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell’s James Reston Jr. does a wonderful job of conveying the consuming and often disfiguring hatred on the part of so many towards Nixon, a hatred that long preceded Watergate but the full-flowering of which Watergate allowed.

See The New Nixon for comments from two men, Frank Gannon (portrayed in the film) and John Taylor (who joined RN’s staff after the inerviews) who spent more time with Nixon after the resignation than anyone other than Brennan and the former president’s family. Gannon’s assessment of the accuracy of the actual events will be fascinating, and if John Taylor comments, future Nixon biographers should clip and save as Taylor knew Nixon in retirement better and longer than anyone not related by blood.

I’ll try and track down director Ron Howard and/or Langella for interviews.

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DAW on Handel’s Messiah

Saturday, December 13, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Ever wondered what it is you are listening to and why it is such an amazing experience? Professor David Allen White explains it all for you.

Handel's Messiah

Amaze.fm Song of the Week: “Lead With Your Lips” by Neighborhood Bullys

Saturday, December 13, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The first punk band to win the week.

436 artists have uploaded 805 songs at Amaze.fm. Add yours and tell your friends to listen and rank it and others.

Twitter, Tolstoy, and the RNC.

Friday, December 12, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My new Townhall.com column is the third and final in a sequence on new media and the GOP.

Today I will interview Ken Blackwell, the sixth and last of the candidates for the RNC chairmanship I have interviewed. The transcript of that conversation is here. Previous interviews with Saul Anuzis, Katon Dawson, Mike Duncan, Chip Saltsman, and Michael Steele are also all online.

When the RNC votes in a few weeks, it had better select a chair committed to “overcommunication” with the public, and via every technology and platform available. Check search.twitter.com throughout the weekend for a conversation on who ought best to lead the RNC from among these six leading candidates. This is an experiment on my part to see if a weekend forum on twitter can be made to work on one subject. Use the hash tag #hhrs to see what I and others are saying about the race. Perhaps one or more of the would be chairmen will participate.

When not participating in that debate, I will be spending most of the weekend beginning delayed Christmas preparations, including shopping. To assist in any gift-giving you must be about, I leave you with two suggestions for the Christmas stocking near you. First, David Allen White on Tolstoy and Melville. Even in the age of Twitter, the great books stay that way.

Learning to Love the Great Books-Conversation 1-War and Peace and Moby Dick

Second, The War Against the West, because it isn’t going to go away no matter how many people chant “hope and change.”

The War Against the West

There’s more stuff at the Hugh Store. See you at the RNC Chair debate on twitter.

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