We had a great screening last night, the last of the MCN Screening Series this year, of The Assasination of Richard Nixon. Director Nils Mueller came by for a Q&A after the movie and explained a lot.
He talked about how Sean Penn committed to this film in 1999 and stuck with it until the money finally came together.
He explained how this was first called The Assassination of LBJ.
He explained that his father was, in days goen by, an immigrant with an office furniture sales showroom.
He told us how a film about a failed assassination ended up being financed by Mexican filmmakers (The Cuarons and their producer, Jorge Vergara), as well as Leo DiCaprio, Alexander Payne and eleven others.
He explained how he held out for years before the film finally came together with him as the director.
But he could never explain how smart his work behind the camera and behind the keyboard (with co-writer Kevin Kennedy) is.
Sean Penn should be Oscar nominated for this film. In fact, I would argue that this is a better performance than the one he won for last year. And while in support, I would argue that this is better work from Don Cheadle than Hotel Rwanda is... not because Cheadle isn't great in both, but because this character, who has so little screen time, is not a hero, but is somehow richer.
I am proud to have closed our screening series with this fine, complex film.