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JFK - Blu-ray Review - Limited Edition Steelbook

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JFK - Limited Edition Steelbook - Blu-ray

3 stars

Being an Australian, I remember American history not being a voraciously covered subject in school or of enormous interest to the general population thereafter. But there are some events that transcend continents, and embed themselves even in the disinterested. The assassination of America’s 35th president on the 22nd of November, 1963 is one of those, and when I visited Dallas to see my friend and editor in 2011, and walked the grassy knoll, and visited the book depository, I can tell you those events even affected a foreigner. It was sorrowful to learn in a lot more detail what transpired there now 50 years ago this month.

From almost the moment Lee Harvey Oswald was announced as the perpetrator, there have been conspiracy theories about what really happened that day, and it shall remain so in all likelihood. A recent poll decried that 60% of Americans now believe that the official story in the murder of John F. Kennedy is a fabrication, and that there was and perhaps still is a conspiracy to withhold the truth from the American public and the world.

In 1991, Oliver Stone, no stranger to sensationalism or controversy, decided to use the story of New Orleans’ DA Jim Garrison and another Kennedy Assassination conspiracy tome to create a political drama exploring the assassination and the alleged cover up that followed. JFK would ultimately become a powerful piece of cinema, but what it represents is as divisive as the theories it tries to explore through its’ 3+ hour running time.

This film is really a detective story in essence and in style adapted to a political thriller. It borrows heavily from cinema noir, both in its writing and execution. The writing is sharp and concise; the information comes thick and fast—a lazy Sunday afternoon at the movies this isn’t; its framework is solidly constructed but layered with many twists and complexities. It evokes a sense of jeopardy and menace very effectively.

It’s a compelling yarn. The film’s humanity comes from Costner’s Garrison and his family. Most of the film is seen through his eyes and his plight. And while the film, through Garrison’s team’s constant debates, tries to present balanced opinion, the film in total is far from balanced. Like it’s protagonist, the film sets out to prove one theory and bulldozes its way passionately over actual facts, combining the actions of characters into homogenised composites and ultimately serving its primary agenda to be a piece of entertainment first, before a rather heavy handed mouthpiece last.

There is a cream of the crop cast in this picture, even for tiny roles, and they all deliver in spades for their respective characters. The cinematography is a combination of actual stock footage, recreations, and standard 2.40.1 Hollywood shininess. It is affecting, rich in both design and execution, and impeccable put together. John Williams sneaks in a rather surprising noir flavoured score that only hints at his involvement toward the end. It is an impeccably well put together motion picture.

What it isn’t, and should never be regarded as in my opinion, is factual or a clinical study of the assassination. It is a powerful, passionate piece of filmmaking that effectively and rather intelligently presents ONE theory on how things may have transpired and to heavily make the point that the US government cannot be trusted (do any of us trust our governments anymore?) To see it anything other than a movie is a disservice to the events it tries valiantly to honour. For whatever really happened, whether now or in the years to come, should be left to a dispassionate investigator, armed with all the facts, some of which won’t be release for another 25 years… What the future might tell? And how close will this film be?

JFK - Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-rayMPAA Rating: R for language.
Runtime:
189 mins
Director
: Oliver Stone
Writer
: Oliver Stone
Cast:
Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon
Genre
: Drama | Mystery
Tagline:
Don't Scream...Just Swim!
Memorable Movie Quote: "He's a District Attorney. He will risk his life, the lives of his family, everything he holds dear for the one thing he holds sacred... the truth."
Distributor:
Warner Home Video
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 20, 1991
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 4, 2013

Synopsis: The film examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (and alleged subsequent cover-up) through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) who filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) and others for their alleged participation in an alleged conspiracy to assassinate the President. The film was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs.

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