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The Assassination of Richard Nixon


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.... and Tracy as the only actors to win to Best Actor/Actress Oscars 2 years in a row?

I, for one, thought Penn deserved to win the Oscar last year.... only he should have got it for 21 Grams, which didn't have the scene-chewing posturing I felt he used in Mystic River.

But now comes The Assassination of Richard Nixon, for which his performance as Sam Bicke is already being called one of his very best. This also features his 21 Grams co-star Naomi Watts.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I had no idea someone was making a film about Sam Byck. He's the fellow who had a 9/11-type scenario worked out in 1973 ... he boarded an airliner with a loaded pistol, intending to force the pilot to crash the plane into the White House, but ended up shooting himself when the pilot wouldn't cooperate.

D'you think if he'd succeeded, we'd have had a Patriot Act and a TSA back then? It's certainly conceivable. (If memory serves, Nixon wasn't home that day, so he wouldn't have been killed.)

I'm a big fan of Sondheim's Assassins

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

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BTS, you probably already caught this but I'm sure you meant Penn would join Hanks and TRACY as the only actors to win consecutive Best Actor Oscars, right? Although Hepburn is one of only two women to win back-to-back Best Actress Oscars (tying in '68 with Barbra Streisand cryss.gif ), the other being the long-forgotten Louise Rainer.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Mark, I should have listed that as Best Actor/Actress. And I completely missed the fact that Spencer Tracy won in both 1937 and '38. Good catch!

Corrections have been made to the thread title.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Penn's performance is very good, but I don't quite see this film delivering him another Oscar ... especially since he just "had his turn" last year. (I don't know about Tracy or Hepburn, but Hanks, at least, had the benefit of being in a Socially Significant Best-Picture-Winning Blockbuster when it came time to collect his second Oscar.)

It's unfortunate, in a way, that this film has the title that it does, since it focuses our attention on the attempted hijacking, when the film itself seems very much more like a personal study of one man's descent into desperation and psychosis. All that footage of Nixon on TV is certainly there, and it's all certainly part of the story, as is the stuff about Black Panthers and the struggling economy -- there is definitely an important political backdrop to the story of Penn's character -- but the possibility that this figure will target Nixon himself only comes up very, very late in the film, and doesn't quite seem to earn the film the title that it has.

It would be kind of like calling Taxi Driver "The Assassination Of Whoever That Politician Cybill Shepherd And Albert Brooks Work For Is" -- and I say this, knowing that Penn has been rather hostile to reporters who suggest that this film has parallels to Taxi Driver.

I have to say, as one getting married in two months, the sight of a man struggling to cope with the fact that his marriage is dissolving -- or has already dissolved -- was heart-wrenching. (God forbid that I should ever end up in that position.) As were the scenes of him struggling to excel at his job as a furniture salesman, given that both he and I have a profound inability to lie to people or to feed them information in a way that seems dishonest.

But I console myself with the possibility that it was the very same psychological problems that led to his botched assassination attempt that probably contributed to his failures in these other areas, too -- and I pray that I shall never have any of those problems myself.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's unfortunate, in a way, that this film has the title that it does, since it focuses our attention on the attempted hijacking, when the film itself seems very much more like a personal study of one man's descent into desperation and psychosis.

Well, I guess we should add it to this list...

You could look at the title as an ironic comment on Byck's failure to transcend his circumstances.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Reel Crusader

For a serious actor, Byck's mysteries make irresistible fodder. For a self-serious actor, they're imperative. Clearly, he and Penn were made for each other. But that's not to say they make much headway together in the name of political progress. Byck, or "Bicke" as the movie calls him, probably figured the assassination attempt was his last chance for eminence. Not if Sean Penn has anything to say about it. For Penn, it's as if playing a successful assassin, someone whose name you know, just wouldn't do. Mueller's script, cowritten with Kevin Kennedy, is the perfect Penn vehicle: The Assassination of Richard Nixon suggests, rather bluntly, but with conviction, that even being a psychopathic mediocrity shouldn't necessarily exclude you from the American Dream.

Jonathan Kiefer, The New Republic, December 28

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Apparently Penn won't be joining the ranks of Hanks, Hepburn and Tracy....

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Penn is Penn, but good Penn. Cheadle is good, but better in Hotel Rwanda. Watts is unconvincing, most likely because of the dye. The film is like all of the above. It's close -- very close -- but finds itself lacking in the end. It needs more tension, a little more manipulation (wow, I'm actually asking for some manipulation here, that's a new one). I don't know, it just felt like it was played too straight. Falling Down and Taxi Driver are much better films in the same generalized genre.

Remember the "fast food joint scene" in Falling Down? Remember the felt tension when our anti-hero couldn't get breakfast, regardless of the fact that there were still two minutes left until breakfast supposedly ended? That logic at least caused tension by making sense. Here we don't have anything like that. The film approaches the alternate ethics in such a bland, blas

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 2 months later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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That has to be some kind of a record. Less than three months from the theater to the rental store? Someone is sitting in a black leather chair staring out the window of his high rise, screaming at the world, "Consume! Consume! ConSUUUUUUME!!!"

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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