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Oliver Stone's greatest film!!!
10/10 I have stated many times that Oliver Stone is an incredible film maker whose films sizzle with excellent cinematography, good acting, and original storyline. He makes controversial films that are sometimes unappreciated by the public and the critics. I said and believed all this even before I watched "JFK".5 years ago
"JFK" is a film that stars many A-list actors in major and minor roles, but they give deep imprints nonetheless. Tommy Lee Jones, the Oscar nominated actor of the film, gives a performance that I almost missed due to my not recognizing him. Jones plays Clay Shaw, a powerful figure in New Orleans and a secret homosexual who knew about the plot to kill the president. Gary Oldman is fantastic as the widely publicized murderer, Lee Harvey Oswald. Joe Pesci, fresh from his Oscar in "Goodfellas", as Dave Ferrie, a man who is struggling to cope with the heavy accusations and mysteries of the JFK murder. Donald Sutherland in an Oscar-worthy performance, as an informant that talks to Jim Garrison, played wonderfully by Kevin Costner. Other great appearances include Kevin Bacon, Sissy Spacek, Michael Rooker, and even Walter Matthau in a bit appearance.
Many of these fine performances were worthy of Oscars, but if there is one man that deserved an Oscar more than anyone else, it would have to be Oliver Stone, who did not win Best Director OR Best Picture. Who did he lose to? "Silence of the Lambs". While I do consider the film to be an excellent thriller featuring one of Anthony Hopkins' greatest performances, I must say that in terms of scope and daring, "JFK" was a far superior film. The cinematography was far more varied and ambitious, as well as the subject matter itself. I can understand why "JFK" was passed over, but the reasons are not fair to the extraordinary film given to us.
The appearance of "JFK" is astounding. You are taken to a time of much distrust, horror, confusion, corruption, and cover-up. The murders of JFK, Martin Luther King, and RFK all influenced the time periods and the peoples. Many people tried not to think about it, or else they were scared into silence. Some, like Jim Garrison, tried to present the truth of "JFK", and their efforts are being felt even now.
Before I saw this film, I had seen Oliver comment that "JFK" was a movie in which he got all the crazy theories and presented them. He was not implying that everything was true, and some of it isn't true. But after seeing this film, I am convinced there was definitely more to the story than was originally told, as I believed even before I saw "JFK". This gave me a knowledge of the period, and awareness of the people participating in the drama of the time.
The point of the film is not entirely based on the story of the JFK assassination. It is an outcry from Oliver Stone to remind us that truth is never simple, nor is it always presented by the government. People must struggle to find the truth sometimes, and if it is covered up, it could be lost forever. The film is an attempt to show us that the murder of President Kennedy was a time of much confusion and mix-up. So what was true and what was not? Many eye-witnesses gave conflicted views, while other circumstances were strange in their origins and happening. And while he gave us this, Oliver Stone also presented us with the best film that he has yet made, and his resume is incredible as it is.
I have seen the films "Platoon" and "Born on the Fourth of July": films that Oliver Stone won Best Director for. Why did he not win for "JFK"? Why did it only win 2 Oscars? For me, it is another example of how disappointing the Oscar results can be. I urge all to see this epic film of mystery and deceit, of truth and lies, the work of a master film director known as Oliver Stone.
A Stunningly Well Planned and Articulated Film
10/10 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.5 years ago
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.
Stone lone braveman
9/10 "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.5 years ago
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
One of the best and most important films ever made!
5/10 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.5 years ago
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.
Past the controversy
5/10 In the time since I first saw the film "JFK", I have found myself inexplicably drawn to the events in Dallas, TX on November 22, 1963. I have researched online and in libraries to learn the truth of these events, and I would say that my outlook on those matters has changed substantially. But underneath that, and the controversy that developed from it, there is one universal and almost indisputable truth regarding the film: JFK is simply an excellent movie. And no difference of opinion can refute this.5 years ago
I have seen my fair share of films over the years, I'm not a cinema maniac by any means. But I think I can judge a quality product when I see one and that's simply what this picture presents. It is, as Tom Wicker of the New York Times said at it's release, propaganda; but the same can be said for every film by Michael Moore... of whom I'm NOT a fan... but they are still strong pictures.
JFK runs the difficult task of presenting fact, fiction, conjecture and opinion, twisting them all to present the increasingly difficult to dispute conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone (and according to director Oliver Stone, did not act) in the assassination of President Kennedy.
The films accomplishments though, past this controversial thesis, are many: 1.) Kevin Costner turns in one of the greatest performances of his career. While his accent is stronger than Garrison and the physical resemblance not astonishing, Costner three dimensionalizes a character and lives in it throughout the film.
2.) An impressive and versatile cast is used superbly. The film is loaded with quality stars such as Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones (in an Oscar nominated role), Gary Oldman, and Joe Pesci (who share an intense and crucial scene); as well as character actors and actresses such as Michael Rooker, Sissy Spacek, and Jay Saunders. Stone even navigates a dramatic turn from the late comedy great John Candy and utilizes Hollywood legends Ed Asner, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Donald Sutherland superbly.
3.) With the possible exception of the lone gunman theory, every possibility of truth is explored, at least in dialogue. Because the case has never been fully elaborated on no one can say for certain what the truth is; Stone presents all views while advancing his theory.
4.) The film is a masterwork of editing. It won the Oscar for film editing in 1991, and deserved it. I once read in Entertainment Weekly that a normal film has roughly 200 cuts in it; there are more than sixty in the opening minutes alone here. Even more impressive when you consider the variety of film used.
JFK is not absolute fact, it does not truly pretend to be. By Stone's own admission, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Rooker, and Kevin Bacon play composites or dramatized characters, not the real thing. But standing alone as a movie, JFK is untouchably excellent. And if it does force you to question, as Costner's Garrison asks in the closing moments "of what is our government made?", then it's all for the better.