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Opening Arguments

A dog and a rat

There are two movies out at the same time that I want to see enough that I might not wait for the video or cable release, pretty unusual. One is "Marley & Me" from the book by John Grogan. Many of my journalist aquaintances couldn't bear reading the book because the very idea seemed like such maudlin drivel. But I actually liked it. Books about animals have to be seriously underwritten if they're to walk that fine line between honest sentimentality and contrived treacle, and I thought Grogan did a pretty good job. As this critic notes, Grogan captures (and I hope the film does) both the joy and sadness of life with an animal companion:

They can frustrate and anger you, but they give such pure love and joy that they easily get forgiven, and that's what gets them into your heart.

With other people, we always have to figure out their motives and hidden agendas. Dogs and cats are just what they are, and that's good enough. Treat them well and they'll . . . well, they'll be themselves. Here, from a link provided by one of the commenters, is Jimmy Stewart on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson explaining the whole thing. Watch Johnny trying not to tear up.


The other one is "Frost/Nixon," partly because I want to see if a taut mystery can really be made from such well-known material (it was done with "All the President's Men," so why not?) and partly because I continue to think Richard Nixon was the most fascinating and compelling character of my lifetime. I don't know if I've said so here before, but he always seemed to me a tragic figure in the classic sense of that term -- someone who had the potential for greatness in him but suffered a downfall because of his character claws.

The trailer looks pretty good. I watched the real interviews, and seeing Frank Langella as Nixon say "I'm saying that when the president does it, it's not illegal" is still pretty chilling.


Posted in: All about me, Books, Film


Bob G.
Tue, 12/30/2008 - 3:06pm

Wouldn't surprise me at all if Langella gets an OSCAR out of this.
It looks very good.
Nixon was extremely "complex".
And that was his BEST trait (imho).