30 Day Film Challenge: Day Nine

Posted on May 19, 2011

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Frost / Nixon 2008

A Film With Your Favourite Actor (Male)

I have no idea who my favourite actor is. I like a vast number of actors, and many for different reasons. I go through phases, one could say and at this very moment I really have no idea who my favourite actor is.

So, for the purpose of getting this day out of the way, I’m going to go with the first actor who comes into my head and thankfully, it’s not one that will completely disgrace myself.

Michael Sheen, or the man who has done three fantastically good impersonations, is an actor I could sit down and watch all day.

There’s the most obvious film that is Frost / Nixon in which he and Frank Langella played so fantastically well off of each other that you almost forgot you were watching a film rather than the original play that the script was based on. I have to say, as a theatre-lover, I would kill to see a version of the play done properly because the story, the emotion and the power that’s on display in the film is simply magnificent.

If I had one issue with it, it was that the trailer half ruined it before seeing. There’s that moment when Langella as Nixon has clearly lost his cool, says something like “When the president does it, it’s not illegal.” In the film, it would have been so easy to cut away to something arbitrary here but instead, we cut to Sheen, as Frost simply saying, flabbergasted, “I’m sorry?”

Anyway, my issue there with the trailer was that it really emphasised that moment and it was, as we know, probably the most pivotal moment of the film and I found myself, as I watched it the first time, waiting for that moment to happen. I think that let it down slightly but what happens after that scene in the film is beautiful too.

I could go into a number of reasons as to why I thought this film was magnificant, one being the fact that the film-makers did not yield to the temptation to make Nixon a caricature, a ridicule, a worst-guy-in-the-world character that so many before this have done. Instead, they made him human, which for me was far more powerful.

There’s The Damned United in which he plays arrogant football manager Brian Clough – a great Middlesbrough accent and an energetic performance that, in fairness never really gets past the ‘bromance’ between he and Timothy Spall’s Pete Taylor but never fails to engage an audience. It almost made me want to be a soccer fan.

Then there’s the film that I first saw Sheen in, and it wasn’t a box office smash but a political drama, made for Channel 4 called The Deal. It’s available on 4OD and everyone should see it because it’s bloody brilliant.

Portraying Tony Blair (for the first time) Sheen is excellent and has all of the mannerisms of the former UK PM down to a T. He exudes the charm that those who know better of Blair recognise as smarm and he is a wonderful foil to David Morrissey’s rough, gruff portrayal of Gordon Brown who, for all intents and purposes, is portrayed as the far more competent politician of the two.

Do yourself a favour. Go to 4OD, type in ‘The Deal’. Press ‘play’.

In hindsight, I don’t think my random picking practice has picked me a bad choice. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I absolutely adored Frost /Nixon, The Damned United and The Deal.

Actually, the old random brain trick has worked out pretty well this time around.