Wednesday, 23 May 2012

JFK, dir. Oliver Stone, scr. Oliver Stone, Zachary Sklar, based on "On the Trail of the Assassins" by Jim Garrison and "Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy" by Jim Marrs, st. Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders, Sissy Spacek

Whichever way you look at it, JFK is an extraordinary feat of film-making, an all-out assault of cinematic sensory overload. Stone examines the events leading up to the murder of JFK in 1963 in Dallas, Texas via meticulously reconstructed events of the day (and the subsequent assassination, seen through the lens of Abraham Zupruder, eerily heavy with the weight of authenticity) and its aftermath – a highly spurious melange of misinformation, conflicting reports, stock footage, multiple eyewitness testimonies, shady government officials and all manner of inter-agency plausible deniability. The sheer force of the argument is persuasive and compelling if not wholly convincing. Stone implicates everyone from the Mob up to and including hurriedly sworn-in president Lyndon Baines Johnson, and if you find your incredulity a little stretched, you cannot deny the film’s powerful message and thematic core of governmental power and the corruption that follows. Stone uses every trick in the cinematographer’s handbook – different filmstocks, a wide array of shots and setups and the most full-on editing and cross-cutting you’ll ever see in a mainstream movie, and John Williams, in one of the few instances unshackled from Spielberg, presents possibly his most mature and complex scores. Its breadth of subject matter and technique remains quite unsurpassed in the two-decade span since its release.