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August 28, 2011 at 08:48 PM



Vincent D'Onofrio as Bill Newman
Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison
Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald
900.16 MB
23.976 fps
3hr 9 min
P/S 14 / 103

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Kakueke 9 / 10

Past the controversy

"JFK" was and remains so controversial that any positive reviews (not to say they were characteristic) it received were dwarfed by the trashing to which it was subjected in the official press, which started well before it was released. This was disturbing, for what is the big need -- it is just a movie. But to so many "JFK" was not, it was somehow threatening.

Ultimately, it does not matter whether JFK's conclusion is correct, and I am even willing to give a little more license than I normally would to more-substantive, as well as less-important, inaccuracies, although I have my limits here too. But this movie's significance is just that it was made. For although other films had chronicled the events surrounding the assassination, none had in any substantial way sought to discredit the Warren Commission, as was so absolutely merited.

Regardless of your opinion on what really happened, it is my view that everyone should be critical of the media, which were so obsequious to the Warren Commission. The New York Times from the start referred to Oswald as the "assassin," not the "suspect." Life Magazine altered photos strongly suggesting a shot had been fired from the grassy knoll. Many years later, when being interviewed by Dan Rather about his film, Oliver Stone said to his face, referring to the event: "Where were you, Dan?"

Indeed, in a documentary he made, Rather said, "in the absence of any CREDIBLE evidence, we can only..." This fallacy is a betrayal of the legal definition of evidence, with Rather's poor characterization of the word "credible." There is enormous, indeed endless, evidence contradicting the Warren Commission's view, and much of it is certainly credible, including all the evidence of the Commission's own efforts to conduct a dishonest and incomplete investigation and intimidate witnesses into changing their testimony to support the version it wanted. In fact, I consider it Gerald Ford's greatest character flaw that he served on it and backed its conduct and conclusion, a far more disturbing matter than his pardon of Nixon. Whether the evidence to which Rather referred is CONCLUSIVE is another story; that is up to us, the jury. The sort of smugness Rather shows has been characteristic of much of the media, and I do not know all the reasons they behaved as they did. Thus, we needed a more courageous, enterprising person like Oliver Stone to step in and fill the gap -- the overwhelming majority of people believe the Commission got it wrong.

Stone's enlistment of mere hypotheticals, theorized by Garrison (setting aside the final scene--there were moments before) or whoever, has been subjected to unfair, ill-conceived criticism. Most people who knew anything at all about the assassination believed there were problems with the Commission's version before they saw this film, and came out of it with an elaboration and hypothesis, not a mindbender. Even if we concede that some younger viewers knew little about the assassination, the notion of the critics of "JFK" that the film would automatically program their minds is an insult to their intelligence, of the ability of people in general to think and come to their own conclusions. Indeed, no one to whom I have EVER spoken has betrayed a view of events that reflects even most, if not all, of Stone's conclusions. If any programming is called for, it is to program people against the Commission's version, not, as its defenders would wish, against Stone. For no one can be programmed to accept Stone's alternate view.

OK, some inaccuracies of Stone can be criticized, such as his portrayal of Garrison (All-American Kevin Costner, natch) as a wholesome hero, and the time-between-shots issue (it is now generally conceded that there was enough time, based on all the evidence, for Oswald to have done it, for those who believe he did). Perhaps the speech by David Ferrie never occurred, but it still reflects the widely held view that the CIA and Mafia worked together in this matter. Certainly, many people in the government despised Kennedy, and there were substantially more elements of this hostility than portrayed in the film. Anyway, we can go on and on. The Warren Commission tried to cover up overwhelming evidence that Ruby knew Oswald, that a shot was fired from the grassy knoll, that a dark-skinned man fired shots from the Dallas School Book Depository, and that Officer Tippit was killed by someone other than Oswald (actually, two people). Well, at least some members resisted the single bullet theory (I guess that passes Rather's definition of "credible"), although they ultimately signed the report.

I do not agree with Oliver Stone's specific ultimate conclusion about the central moving force of the assassination. But he has the right to suggest the U.S. government was involved, and many, including myself, think it was involved somehow, but that what is debatable is merely to what extent and how far up. Hats off to Stone for his courage and thoughtfulness in making his necessary statement.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Collin E. Anderson (dustbrother204) 10 / 10

A Stunningly Well Planned and Articulated Film

Oliver Stone is undoubtedly one of the most controversial directors of all time, his work has included horrifyingly real stories of Vietnam, stories of the corruption of politics and a much-despised account of Jim Morrison's life. No matter the subject matter, Stone always gives it his all and sometimes the world's response is positive and sometimes it's negative. With JFK we are faced with one of his films that was probably one of his most successful (next to Platoon of 1986). This is a rare instance in which the public loved the concept of conspiracy in their own country, and took special interest in the debates that it caused amongst the government upon release. The best thing about this film is that it is and was treated as so much more than a film. My honest opinion is that this response was created not because of a more plausible theory but because of Stone's fantastic and unique job putting the story together.

The film opens on a surprisingly suspenseful scene of the murder of John F. Kennedy. The chopped style of the scene lets you know that something is not right, dramatic black and white shots spliced with the blurry grain shots of the home video taken by a witness (it won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography). This, accompanied by John Williams' excellent original score helped do an excellent job of creating a mood, just for this very first scene. Often times a director will stop after this, give it his all for style and then stop after the first scene, but Stone doesn't do this. He makes the film so much more than a boring investigation; he takes you in to each of the puzzle pieces (indeed, it feels like you're with Kevin Costner "digging" through hundreds of events.) For 90% of these clips that lace the film's concepts together, the camera is not kept steady, it is, indeed, like you are there witnessing it. The human eye doesn't only look at what is important, and a situation of trauma can make everything seem broken, confused. Oliver Stone doesn't try to make sure you understand what's going on. Some frown upon this, but it's realistic and that's what counts.

Kevin Costner plays Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans who investigates the murder of John Kennedy. Sometimes you are expected to disagree (at first) with some of Garrison's presumptuous statements, and when you do there is always at least one character around who will agree with you. Stone realizes most viewers aren't devoted enough to believe everything Garrison says no matter what it is throughout the film. Stone has said that he wants people to "rethink history" and that this film is not guaranteed fact, but an "alternate myth" to the myth that has been presented before. The story is not solid because very few ideas or people or events in life are. What I mean to say is that Garrison's comments are not necessarily ridiculous, it's just a matter of how hard he tries to support them. The focus constantly changes -- yes, Costner will smile a bit when he makes a ridiculous remark that everyone rolls their eyes at, yes, even at the end of the film some clips will be left unchecked, and yes, you will see that there is no way that the question "who killed JFK" is answered as simply, solidly, and, dare I say it, Hollywood-esquely as a one man killing. If you watch this movie looking for real life, without dramatization and without guaranteed entertainment and fun, you will be impressed. This is not a popcorn movie.

And finally a word should be said about the actors' enhancement of the realism of the film. Most notable are Joe Pesci as the frantic David Ferrie who pretends to be a victim but truly (we see) had much more to do with it than he pretends (although convincingly was not an assassin -- he blows the whole thing out of proportion "this is too f*cking big for you, you know that?") and Tommy Lee Jones as the wry ring leader Claw Shaw, who seems to be a pompous upscale member of society that has been doing the dark business of conspiracy behind closed doors. The fact that these characters can appear real to us and not just appear as familiar actors taking on a role (as you might feel in Ocean's Eleven) truly does the film justice in driving it forward.

This is in fact one of my top three favorite movies, but I tend to refrain from mentioning it as just this to my friends-- I'm sooner to mention Memento or Fight Club. The reason for this is that the movie is almost an acquired taste, and certainly not normal entertainment for a teenager. It's honestly written for a generation above me, but everything that makes it (up to and including the "kings are killed" and other political themes) are intriguing to me, and for me anything intriguing grows to be a favorite. Even if the subject is not something that ever really impacted me, I take themes to heart, and I always love a good "enigma wrapped in a riddle."

NOTES: -Maybe a point off for being inconsistent in goal. Though as admirable in a movie as any other characteristic, I found this to be the most restricting on ability to follow along. -Also notable is the fact that it's very release sparked opening of sealed governmental records on the subject.


Reviewed by Scott Carr ([email protected]) 5 / 10

One of the best and most important films ever made!

Oliver Stone's epic film which follows the real-life events of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison is a monumental movie event. It should have been named the Best Picture of 1991 instead of The Silence of the Lambs.

Everything about this film is perfect and it shows that when an intriguing story comes together with all other elements of filmmaking that are executed brilliantly, the film works on so many levels.

First off, Stone's direction is as good as it gets. He has an incredible passion for the subject, knowledge of the art and relationship with the camera. All of his footage goes together seamlessly and makes the 3 h 08 min running time blow by. He gets a strong performance out of the entire ensemble cast especially Costner, Jones, Oldman, and Pesci.

Scalia and Hutsching's editing is a work of art and tells the complicated story with incredible precision. Richardson's cinematography lights up the screen in both colour and black and white. Both of these technical aspects of filmmaking are molded into sheer artistry by these three men who have all deserved their Oscars for this film.

John Williams' score is one of his best (right up there with his Indiana Jones and Star Wars). The script is intelligent, thought-provoking, mesmorizing and heart-wrenching. Costner's closing speech to the Jury is finer that Nicholson's in A Few Good Men, McConaughey's in A Time to Kill and Jackson's in Pulp Fiction. It is Stone and Sklar's best work.

The subject matter is incredibly controverial and subjective but Stone's delivers it with such emotion and raw power that his alternate myth to the Warren Report seems factual. The film is an investigation into the human spirit and how the vigour and dedication of one man and his team of associates can rise above the highest powers of the world and encode a message into the minds and hearts of millions. John F. Kennedy has countless achievements and qualities as a president which makes his life and term one of the most incredible and worthy of deep study.

Oliver Stone's JFK should go down in film history as one of the most important American films ever produced. Watch it with an open mind free of prejudice and predisposition and you will find yourself wanting to go to the library and learn more about this global tragedy.

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