JFK (1991)

Director: Oliver Stone
Cast:  Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon
Plot:  A New Orleans DA discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

Genre:  Drama / History / Thriller

Awards:  Won 2 Oscars - Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing.  Nom. for 6 Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound.
Runtime:  206min
Rating:  NC16 for language


Oliver Stone.  The director whose name is synonymous with Vietnam War flicks and controversial political pictures.  He is the brains behind films like Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Natural Born Killers (1994).  He seldom fails, and apart from making the incredibly dismal Alexander (2004) a few years back, Stone is still one of America's most daring and influential filmmakers.

In my opinion, JFK is the best picture Stone has ever made.  There's little reason to believe he will ever surpass what he has accomplished here.  The film runs for more than three hours, and with the overwhelming amount of content and the humongous scope of the plot, it's unbelievable that Stone managed to complete the production of the film within two years. 

He expertly explains and explores the conspiracies that surround the assassination of President Kennedy back in the 1960s through spellbinding color and black-and-white images, and the recreation of the chain of sequences that lead to the assassination and its convoluted aftermath.

Was he murdered by the lone shooter Lee Harvey Oswald?  Or were there others involved?  Did the US military, FBI, CIA conspire to kill their own President?  What about the 'magic bullet' theory?  Where's the Zapruder film kept?  Was there a massive cover-up by the highest authorities of the American government, including its judiciary system? 

These are all aptly dissected in the film, providing crucial insights, and occasionally leaving more questions unanswered, challenging viewers to think and respond.  Effective individual performances from A-listers like Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, and Donald Sutherland combine flawlessly, resulting in one of the most extensive and well-assembled cast in the history of cinema. 

JFK won only two Oscars for best cinematography and film editing in a year dominated by Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (1991), a meager return for one of the best films of the decade.  The Academy owes Oliver Stone another best picture and director award.

It is possibly one of the contenders for the best edited film of all-time.  The manner in which Oliver Stone filmed JFK through the use of disturbing flashback images, rapid-fire editing, and intertwining it with suspenseful pulsating rhythms by composer John Williams, and knowing it's all based on a terribly true event makes it one of the most chilling movie experiences ever. 

For students of film, JFK is a valuable resource.  For the rest of us, it is one of the greatest films we will ever see.

GRADE: A+ (10/10 or 5 stars)

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