Aside from watching a couple of movies, I didn’t achieve all that much today.
The movies I watched, however, were both very good and so I don’t feel like I’ve entirely bummed around doing nothing all the day.
The first film I watched was Frost/Nixon.
Although I was politically aware from a young age, and remember the news of Richard Nixon’s resignation, I have only a very vague childhood memory of my family watching the David Frost interview series.
As a broadcast journalist for most of my adult life I found it especially interesting to watch.
In particular, I could relate to the common dilemma of how much preparation is enough, and how much is too much. Despite weeks and weeks of intense preparation, David Frost found it difficult to incorporate the research he had done into the interview itself, without it sounding contrived, un-natural.
And I also related to the strategies politicians sometimes use of trying to psyche out the interviewer just seconds before broadcast. A well-known politician told me a couple of years ago he did it all the time to a well known broadcaster by reminding him of an incident from his past. “It works every time. He gets all sweaty at just the mention of it”, I was told.
The film suggests David Frost was probably a gifted broadcaster and journalist, but maybe a little lazy, only really putting in the hard work at the very end of the interview series.
That said, the film also highlighted the “business” of television journalism. That all the way through the interview series, David Frost was still in negotiation, still trying to find a “market” for the programs.
I thought there was a great sense of drama throughout the movie, and all of the actors did their jobs very well.
The only thing I found a little disturbing was seeing uber-hunk Matthew McFadyen wearing a blonde wig.
Oh yeah, and there’s a continuity error early in the film when David Frost is doing a “live cross” in front of the Sydney Opera House. In the background, you can also see “The Toaster” which, of course, didn’t exist in the early 1970s when it was supposedly shot.
But overall a really great film, which I loved.
And then, continuing the political theme, I watched The Times of Harvey Milk, about the assasination of the gay San Franciscan politician in the late 1970s.
I watched this in anticipation of seeing Sean Penn in “Milk” which is opening in Australia too.
As I watched the film I couldn’t help but relate to the political parralels between San Francisco and Sydney.
In the mid-70s they had a Mayor who was very keen on community-based politics, with similar interests to our own Clove Moore, including public transport.
There were also local council issues to do with development and the interests of property development which, also, rings a bell here in Sydney.
Unlike “Milk”, this documentary film was made just a few years after the assasination of Harvey Milk, so the memories and feelings of those around him were still pretty raw.
That said, it’s not a complete hagiography. A number of people spoke honestly that Milk came from total obscurity. Others remembered the Mayor, Marsconi, who was also shot that day by one of their political rivals, Dan White (who later killed himself, by the way).
I’ll be interested to see how much of “Milk” is about the story of Harvey Milk, and how much background we also get to see about the other significant figures in San Francisco at the time.
Both films were really enjoyable.