In Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. The official explanation released by the F.B.I. doesn't make sense and is very suspicious. As a result, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) decides to investigate and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that may involve more than he could ever have imagined.
Oliver Stone has done his homework here and bombards the audience with facts, theories and reports from the media, interviews and eyewitness testimonies. He covers the history of events right across the board from the Bay of Pigs to the Warren Report via the questionable marksmanship of "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald. Whether or not you agree with Stone's theories is of little importance. What is of great importance is his ability to pose serious questions on one of the most tragic political events and biggest conspiracies in American history. It could easily come across that Stone (or Garrison) have all the answers but they don't. This is a film that endeavours to get to the root of the truth. Many questions will remain unanswered but it's also not the type of film that claims to provide them. Some information is pure speculation but the very place where Stone succeeds is his ability to instil debate. He welcomes it and the film is far more powerful because of it. It's a tangled web that has been weaved and Stone deserves the utmost respect in tackling it head on. What's most impressive though is that it's never boring. With all the details, it could be in danger of losing the audiences attention but it doesn't and this is thanks-in-large to editor's Pietro Scalia and Joe Hutshing in skilfully piecing all the fragmented narrative strands together. They won an Oscar for their work and deservingly so. Another deserving Oscar winner was cinematographer Robert Richardson for his marvellous attention to detail in capturing the look and feel of the 1960's. Amongst the the brisk pace and attention to detail is an abundant cast of quality actors and no matter how small the role, each of them get a chance to shine; Gary Oldman makes a perfect Oswald and other notable displays from Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, John Candy, Donald Sutherland and an Oscar nominated turn from Tommy Lee Jones as eccentric socialite, Clay Shaw. It's Costner who is the main focus here though and he delivers a solid and determined performance. More importantly, he's an appealing presence which is very much required when the film steps over the 3 hour mark. He captures the obsession of Garrison and in a lot of ways makes it our own; his dogged determination for answers reflecting ours. When all the dust has settled, the film culminates into a conventional court room drama but still remains riveting. It's during this time that despite some shocking revelations earlier in the film that Stone finishes with aplomb and takes his chance to disclose some staggering pieces of information.
A conspiracy theorists dream, that may take some criticism for being hypothetical or one-sided but there's no denying Stone's bravery or his skill in encapsulating the paranoia and unrest at this time in history.
Everyone knows John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated, but the case was never open and shut from the beginning, and with this film, Oliver Stone hoped to show that. What we have here is a dramatized take on the efforts of New Orleans District Attorney and his team of colleagues to bring to light various conspiracies surrounding the death of JFK, including the only (to this date) public trial concerning the event.
I knew from the beginning that this film was going to be heavy on historical revision, rejection/ignorance (as in purposely ignoring) of historical fact, and tons of conjecture, a lot of times without evidence, or at least substantial and credible amounts of it. I knew there'd be more questions and answers. And I knew that in general this film was going to be pretty inaccurate and take as much dramatic license as possible in the name of telling a great, engaging, and absorbing story.
And, now that I've seen it, I can easily say that yes, this is a riveting cinematic experience. But, I do think it's overrated and not the full on masterpiece it's been touted as being. However, if you treat the film as having no relation to reality in any way whatsoever, ie as just a fictional investigation into a fictional assassination, it still holds up as a wonderful story about a guy determined to bring about truth and justice. But, it's not totally fictional. It's a look at probably the most well known assassination of all time.
I honestly don't know what to believe in watching the film, and I'm not sure if Stone really knows the truth either. I'm not sure anyone does. That's not the point. The fact that people obsess over this case is a testament to its power. The fact that this is such a talked about and controversial movie is an even further testament to the strength of things.
Despite some dodgy writing and conclusions, this film is a brilliant show of cinematography and editing, especially with the editing. The presentation, like some of Stone's other works, is a frenetic, schizophrenic explosions of various filters, lenses, formats, styles, and techniques, all in the name of artistry, symbolism, or some other sort of important reason. And...it works. It definitely makes for a unique experience, that's for sure.
Don't ask me to name the whole cast. That'd be insane. I think Stone may have out Altmaned Altman on this one. The choices are excellent though, and it's nice seeing so many notable names, especially since a lot of them are in tiny roles or cameos, and many agreed to take pay cuts to be in the film. Costner is absolutely brilliant as Garrison, and Rooker, Knight, Sanders, and Metcalf are all equally strong as his underlings. Gary Oldman knocks it out of the park as Lee Harvey Oswald, which I expected, but for me, the two best performances after Costner belong to Joe Pesci and Donald Sutherland. Pesci's breakdown and Suther;and's monologue rank as some of the best moments of their respective careers, and the final courtroom monologue given by Costner is one of the most epic things ever.
I really enjoyed this film despite its flaws. I feel it is definitely an important piece of work, because it really did open up a lot of eyes, and it did so in such a stellar cinematic way, but it didn't shake me enough to warrant the full grade that this sort of thing typcially illicits from me. Defintiely give it a watch though.
David Ferrie: They'll get to you too. They'll destroy you. They're untouchable, man.
JFK is an amazing look at a possible conspiracy to kill the president. It is painstakingly well made. Anybody who complains about the running time did not watch the movie close enough. There is so much material in this film, I'm suprised it didn't run 4 and a half hours. Just like Jim Garrison, the film never slows down. The film does open up a lot of ideas about what really happened, but the great thing about this movie is that it can be enjoyed no matter if you believe parts of what they are saying or not. The cast is absolutely amazing in this movie. It's scene after scene of recognizable faces and big names. Costner, Jones, Oldman, Spacek, Pesci, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Grubbs, Jay O Sanders, Vincent D'Onorfio, John Candy, and Donald Sutherland, and the list goes on, but thats who I remember. It's an amazingly well shot film and it it won the Best Cinematography Oscar. Kevin Costner is electric in his role and his last speech during the trial of Clay Shaw is powerful and really well executed. The film shows us glaring faults in the investigation of JFK and then basically tells us to go find the truth. The film is dedicated to the young who seek the truth. This is Oliver Stones best film by far and the guy has made some really good movies; Platoon, Wall Street, Salvador, and the always overlooked Talk Radio. The subject definitely deserves thought and this film gives us a point to start at.
As possibly one of the biggest conspiracy theories in history, the film is big in terms of it?s star cast, it?s investigation, the content and script with some dialogue running for a fair while without breaking scenes, (in particular the scene with Donald Sutherland).
Good performances all around and made for intriguing viewing.
A New Orleans DA discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.
The assassination of JFK has been told in every possible way through every available medium. Oliver Stone managed the unimaginable transforming and almost folk tragedy, through a mix of drama and cinema veritŤ, into a riveting mystery thriller with the paranoiac style of a man who's in touch with paranoia in a quasi permanent basis. Unnerving, frustrating and spectacularly satisfying. Kevin Costner manages to be convincing as the center piece of the conspiracy theory. We believe the whole damn thing because we see it through his logic. Sissy Spacek, as his wife, represents most us and she does it brilliantly. Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Bacon are a pleasure to watch. Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and even John Candy, Sally Kirkland and Vincent D'Onofrio deliver little parts of the puzzle without ever becoming distracting. Gary Oldman is a chilling dead ringer for Lee Harvey Oswald. For film lovers, for history nuts, for pop culture fanatics and for conspiracy theorists, this is a must.
A MUST WATCH, if you haven't already.
WHAT A GREAT PIECE OF WORK !
The story Stone's JFK tells shocked me like no movie shocked me in a long time. Seems stupid, but it changed my point of view of how far United States government could go to get what it wants.
JFK is one of the most POWERFUL movies I've seen in my life. One that I'll remember for the rest of my days.