Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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JFK [Brief]

Film #525


A New Orleans DA discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

THE REVIEW: Few things are more entertaining to watch than a wonderfully crafted conspiracy theory, especially one as well-crafted as Oliver Stone’s take on John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. When it comes to a film like JFK, I’m less interested in what actually happened (or what was claimed to have happen by the Warren Commission), and more with how “facts” are used to construct a logical reasoning for an alternative outcome.

JFK was met with controversy upon release with regard to manipulation and distortion of historical facts, and that very well may be true. Accusing President Lyndon B. Johnson of being a mastermind behind the assassination plot in order to ascend to the Presidency is quite a large accusation and one that would be very hard to back up. But much like I would with a science fiction film, I could suspend my disbelief for the duration of the film (all 188 minutes worth) in order to go along with Oliver Stone’s argument. As Roger Ebert astutely points out in his review of the film, JFK doesn’t answer “they mystery of the Kennedy assassination… it’s achievement is that it tries to marshal the anger which ever since 1963 has been gnawing away on some dark shelf of the national psyche.“

Journey would be an appropriate word to describe JFK; so would exploration or examination. A journey to find the truth, to find answers, to find a reason for what happened. We may never know is the Warren Commission report is correct in identifying Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone shooter, if indeed there was a conspiracy and multiple shooters as Oliver Stone’s film suggests, or if there is some other answer entirely. For the purposes of this film all you need to know is that New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) presents a convincing argument, an argument that is well-crafted and presented in a way that will hold your attention longer than I thought possible. Despite a three-plus hour runtime, JFK never skips a beat and always keeps you guessing and on your toes. True or false, accurate or manipulative, JFK is an entertaining piece of filmmaking.

THE RATING: 4 out of 5