A documentary! About Nixon! This is gonna be…
Well, let’s be honest, it’s going to be hideously biased about Richard Milhouse Nixon, right? Ain’t nobody actually objective making documentaries any more. If we’re lucky, they’re like Morgan Spurlock and state their biases up front. (Well, Spurlock did that in Supersize Me, but went far less honest in later works.)
The premise here is that a bunch of Dick lovers, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Dwight Chapin, took a bunch of Super 8 “home movies” of the various shenanigans going on in the White House from 1968-1974ish, which have been recently declassified or somehow or other made public domain, and enterprising filmmaker Penny Lane has edited from the many, many hours of doubtless stultifying footage and selected presumably the least dull footage, over which snippets of the legendary tapes are played.
The Boy was not engaged, especially, though he came out feeling kinda sorry for Tricky Dick, which he felt was probably not the filmmaker’s intent.
I was rather more, since I knew a bit more about the times and people involved.
The best parts of this are the truly documentarian parts, which is to say, there’s a lot here that reflects well on Nixon and poorly on the press, which was by-and-large quite obviously out to get him.
Then there are a couple of parts that seem gratuitous: Nixon fretting over Kissinger’s seduction techniques, which apparently involved taking total credit for the China trip. Nixon asking for help from Haldeman (or Ehrlichman, I can’t recall) after he’d had to resign in disgrace. And worst of all, an anti-gay diatribe.
Nixon didn’t care for the gays. And upon viewing a pro-gay episode of “All In The Family”, he vented on the subject. And he vented in a way that was pretty normal for the time, if a bit bombastic. And not just that time, but just about every time in the past 1,500-2,000 years.
That felt agenda-y, but I assured The Boy that he probably could’ve heard similar diatribes from all previous Presidents, and if not making them, then they almost surely heard uncritically such things. MLK didn’t embrace homosexuality, unsurprisingly, although squabbling over his corpse is done to speculate on how he would have evolved. (I can only assume he would’ve evolved out of being a Republican, too, by that light.)
Anyway, the real problem here is that the tapes are the interesting part. The actual film is what you’d expect from home movies: Shots of scenery and taking pix of someone else holding a camera who’s taking pix of you. It might add some depth if you viewed these guys as monsters, I guess. I dunno.
It’s short but feels a little too long. Director Lane has a cute trick of calling herself the “co-director”, with the CREEPers being the other directors, one presumes.