"Kings are killed, Mr. Garrison, politics is power..."
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 08/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oliver Stone's "JFK" is a monstrous epic that revolves around the whole mystery around President Kennedy's assassination. While it is a dramatic picture and Stone most likely twisted a few things to make this a more relevant and better movie, it is still an undeniable powerhouse that has you go through a whole set of emotions, ranging from fear, anger, paranoia and sadness. There's no question that the majority of the country believes that there is more to the assassination than we were lead to believe. I don't think it's exactly how it is in the movie, but that's not important. What is important is that the film works for many reasons.
President Kennedy has been assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald is the suspect and gets shot shortly after. There is a secretive and brief hearing on the whole assassination, and it is in stone that Oswald was a lone gunman and nobody else was involved. Seems like an open-and-shut-case, but District Attorney Jim Garrison isn't willing to buy it. With his staff, they decide to work on the case, until they are shut down by the government. Three years later, Garrison isn't willing to stand by in silence anymore and decides to go ahead with the case. The further he digs, the more horrible truths he uncovers. Not only that, but people high up in the ranks are willing to do anything to make sure that the American Public will never find out about them.
As I said, this isn't meant to be an entirely accurate portrayal of how everything happened. It suggests to you that it could've been this way, and it even does a good job of presenting its case to you. What I think Stone was trying to achieve was to create his own commentary on how people feel about the handling of the whole assassination and how sloppily the case was handled. The film wasn't made to merely exploit the death of Kennedy, but what it does exploit is the fact that we're willing to believe anything they tell us in the media. It's a hard concept to grasp, because it's not too far from the truth. The movie is brilliantly directed and well-acted. Kevin Costner gives one of the best performances of his career. The film has a whole list of famous actors in it, like Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Sissy Spacek and a whole bunch more. They are all fantastic in their roles.
A word of warning; this is a VERY LONG movie. It is about 3 and a half hours long in running time. If you want to watch this, then you have to really commit to it. If you're not in the mood for a very lengthy movie, then you will not be able to enjoy this. The new 2-Disc Special Edition offers a remastered director's cut that looks and sounds great. Another interesting feature is the documentary, "Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy." Extras included are deleted/extended scenes, commentary from the director, theatrical trailer, essays and DVD-ROM features. A very nice package that does the film justice.
JFK" is an amazing picture that did not bore me for a single second. Not only does it work as a powerful drama, but it also works as an intense thriller. Did everything happen the way the movie proposes? Maybe, maybe not. What the film does is make you think about everything that happened around the assassination. Any film that can get the brain thinking is more than okay in my book. A very character-driven and passionate epic that is perfectly executed by Oliver Stone. -Michael Crane"
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 11/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the 2 Disc- Oliver Stone Collection- Special Edition (Director's Cut) DVD
Oliver Stone uses facts,speculation and some dramatic liscense to bring us this fascinating look back at the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.The New Orleans District Attorney at the time of the murder was Jim Garrison(Kevin Costner), who uncovers a chain of evidence that leads back to his city and a possible conspiracy theory.He persues the evidence,witnesses, and suspects, and finally years later brings the first and only trial of the conspiracy theory to the courts.
Stone's gripping film unpeels the layers of this "mystery wrapped in an enigma" by following Garrison and his staff's endless investigation into the facts.Interviews with the witnesses that heard and saw shots coming from the "grassy knoll" area, the "magic bullet" theory,which showed that there was more than one rifle and more than three bullets shot(as previously stated in the Warren Commission report) and conflicting autopsy reports to name a few.
Garrison also has conversations with a man called"X", who relays information vital to the case that causes us to ponder not who or how many shot Kennedy, but WHY was he assasinated. Speculation on this leads to one theory, the discovery that Kennedy had set a plan in motion to pull out of Viet Nam, but there were many powerful people against this(ranging from the mafia all the way to the White House), and the day of Kennedy's funeral Lyndon Johnson signed documents that in effect brought us full force into Viet Nam.Other theories are also brought to light.
The film,based on Jim Garrison's books, is outstanding in all respects. It looks at all of the issues and will keep you intrigued until the end. There is actual footage of the day of the assassination incorporated, and the photography going from color to black and white(in the flashbacks) is excellent. There are so many fine performances, I'll just name a few. Kevin Costner anchors this magnificent cast as the low key Garrison, Tommy Lee Jones is Clay Shaw,the only suspect brought to trial. Kevin Bacon as a key witness, Joe Pesci is wonderful as David Ferrie, the paranoid link to everyone, and Gary Oldman IS Lee Harvey Oswald! Donald Sutherland is the mysterious "X". The Musical Score by John Williams adds greatly to the film.
In most cases I usually view the "extras" on a DVD as a bonus. In this case I was as enthralled by these features as I was by the film. They were welcome additons to this film of historical importance. Some included are interviews with the real"X", this was very enligthning,and new and updated information on the evidence surrounding this 40 year old mystery. There are also deleted/extended scenes with or without Stone's commentary and more. There are also subtitles in English Frensh, Spanish and Portugese if needed.The widescreen,clarity of picture and sound is as wonderful as the film. This DVD is a great addition to any film library.
Each time I view this film I discover something new. You will too!.....Laurie
also recommended: Marilyn Monroe - The Final Days(great bio includes clip of Marilyn singing happy birthday to JFK)
Best Picture Collection - Epic Dramas (Casablanca/Gone With the Wind/Ben-Hur)
A Remarkable Film, a remarkable DVD
Cabir Davis | 12/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oliver Stone's "JFK" is a remarkable film that is too often overshadowed by the very real events upon which it is based and by the perceived political agenda of its director. But, as Stone himself has stated on numerous occasions, the movie is not meant to stand as a definitive historical document but rather as an alternative look at what might have happened on that fateful day in Dallas given the conflicting and incomplete information that came out of the official final word on President Kennedy's assassination, The Warren Commission Report. Much of "JFK" is based on known fact but Stone has taken it one step further and extrapolated out a variety of possible realities based on the many unanswered questions and perplexing coincidences that surround the case.
The central character in the film is Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner), the district attorney from New Orleans who actually brought the case of the Kennedy assassination to court -- some three years after the fact. Although his attempt to convict Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) of conspiracy in the assassination of the president was doomed to failure, the facts that he uncovered, and continued to pursue through his later writings on the subject, gave a certain legitimacy to the claims by conspiracy theorists that all was not right with the official investigation. Through countless scenes, the government's assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was in fact a lone gunman who acted of his own volition and with no outside help is continuously under siege. By the end of the film, every preconceived notion that the viewer may have had regarding the assassination has been called into question.
In addition to the actors mentioned above, "JFK" is a virtual who's-who of Hollywood talent. Rounding out the cast are Kevin Bacon, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, and even John Candy. In all instances, the performers bring a certain degree of mystery to their roles that really reinforces the overall disconcerting feel of the film.Enough about the film already, what about the DVD? Well, as many of you know, Warner first released "JFK" as a movie-only edition back in 1997. While this DVD featured Oliver Stone's preferred director's cut of the movie with some 17 additional minutes of footage reinserted, the video was non-anamorphic and the audio was a merely serviceable DD 2.0 mix. In addition, the lack of any extras was a shame and the disc itself was a dreaded "flipper". With this new release, Warner has addressed all of these issues and "JFK" is at long last available in a fine special edition DVD.
"JFK" is presented in anamorphic widescreen, preserving the 2.35:1 aspect ratio of the original theatrical release. Sharpness is usually quite solid although the extensive use of filters lends a somewhat soft appearance to the image in a number of scenes. Black levels and contrast are good with only the darkest of scenes losing fine shadow detail. Colors are accurate and exhibit no signs of bleeding but the palette is, for the most part, somewhat muted. I could spot no instances of compression artifacts and the edge enhancement that plagued the original release is mercifully gone. The video is a marked improvement over the old release and, while it isn't a perfect transfer, I could find no glaring issues with the work Warner has done preparing this release.
Just as the video has been upgraded for the new special edition, so too has the audio. Replacing the fairly good Dolby Digital 2.0 mix on the previous release is a brand-new 5.1 channel Dolby Digital soundtrack available in both English and French. The increase in dynamic range afforded by this new mix really makes John Williams's moving score come alive and adds some overall depth to the soundtrack as a whole. Surround use is frequent and well-integrated and dialogue is always clear and firmly anchored to the center. While this new 5.1 mix certainly won't give the best soundtracks a run for their money, it is a fair improvement over the previous release and is very well done.Now we come to that facet of DVD that truly defines a special edition -- the extras. Seeing as how the film itself is quite long, Warner has taken the step of making "JFK" into a two-disc release in order to accommodate the plentiful bonus features.
Disc One features the movie itself and provides a very engaging commentary track by Oliver Stone. I've listened to a number of his commentaries and they are always informative, entertaining, and full of great personal and professional recollections. "JFK" is no exception as the director delves into every facet of this remarkable film. His tone is always conversational which makes the three plus hours spent listening to him more enjoyable than one might expect. Rounding out the extras on Disc One are cast and crew bios and filmographies as well as a list of the awards that "JFK" has garnered.
Disc Two is where the real strength of this special edition resides. First up is a 15 minute interview entitled "Meet Mr. X: The Personality and Thoughts of Fletcher Prouty" in which the real-life Mr. X discusses his particular take on the assassination. Played by Donald Sutherland in the movie, Mr. X was to Jim Garrison as Deep Throat was to Bob Woodward -- a shadowy source who provides the hints needed to further the investigation. Next up is "Assassination Update: The New Documents," a 30 minute multimedia essay hosted by noted conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio. Combining text, photographs, and video clips, Mr. DiEugenio delivers a very riveting, if not a bit overwhelming and scattershot, look at the facts of the case that have come to light in recent years.
Are we done yet? Not even close. Also included on Disc Two is 50 minutes of additional footage that can be viewed individually or as a complete set and with or without Oliver Stone's accompanying commentary. Combine this with the 17 minutes previously added back into the film and you have well over an hour of footage that wasn't in the original theatrical release. As is the case with some of the scenes that were added to the director's cut, much of this bonus material is redundant. Nevertheless, there are some real gems here and it's great that this abundance of cutting room casualties are included on the DVD.Rounding out the extras on Disc Two is the DVD-ROM content that features links to a number of websites, a series of theatrical trailers for this and other Oliver Stone films, print reviews of "JFK," and a link for a future online chat with Oliver Stone. Whew!
Now we turn to an aspect of this DVD that I rarely mention in a review -- the packaging. "JFK" is presented in Warner's preferred snapper case, which should come as no surprise. But, in order to accommodate the two discs, a pocket has been added to the cover flap and Disc Two resides there in a flimsy little envelope. It really is a screwy method that may be a bit rough on that second disc over the long haul so it's best that the buyer be forewarned. But, on the plus side, Warner has taken the negative comments about this packaging to heart and have promised to come up with a better alternative for any future two disc sets.
"JFK" is a thought-provoking film that remains almost as big a conundrum as the subject upon which it is based. Many viewers and critics see it as nothing more than another political rant by that crazy Ollie Stone. Others have had their eyes opened wide upon seeing it and no longer view the world in quite the same rosy light as they once did. Skillfully filmed, well-acted, and at its very core quite unsettling, "JFK" stands as one of Oliver Stone's finest films.
And what better way to treat a great film than with a brand new two disc special edition DVD? Featuring vastly improved video and audio, the new release presents "JFK" in fine fashion. The wealth of bonus features that examine the film itself, and the real-life events it revolves around, add some much needed depth to the understanding of this pivotal moment in American history. Throw in the fact that Warner is offering this two disc special edition for much less than some studios sell their bare-bones DVDs for and you have a sure-fire winner. The film and the DVD both come very highly recommended."
One of the best films of the 1990's
Craig Clarke | New England | 01/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has been said that JFK is Oliver Stone's favorite of his films, and I can understand why. In many ways, it is his best. It is certainly his most ambitious. Even if taken only in terms of its visuals and editing, this was an ambitious undertaking. And he's taken it a step further. He has taken the dry minutiae (whether you can give a label of "hard facts" is debatable) and not only kept it from being boring, but has also made it compelling, gripping cinema. Three hours go by without a yawn. Culled from two major sources--On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison (who is the lead character played by Kevin Costner) and Crossfire by Jim Marrs--as well as other governmental records and his own interviews, JFK is an almost complete picture of what information was available at the time. Also involved in the film's riveting status is the all-star cast Stone has hired to portray important characters. A listing of actors in this film includes: Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Sissy Spacek, Kevin Bacon, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, John Candy, and Gary Oldman. Donald Sutherland (playing "X," a character based on Fletcher Prouty) gives a ten-minute monologue that should have been dull as dishwater, but it is so chock-full of information combined with intercut dramatizations and John Williams stunning score, that it is a pivotal (and my favorite) scene in the movie. There is so much information involved here that it could have easily become confusing or overwhelming but Stone and co-screenwriter Zachary Sklar have assembled the pieces in a narrative form--often having the information come out in the form of character interviews--and doesn't talk down to its audience. Also, the mix of film types--grainy documentary-like footage, differences in lighting and colored filters mixed with footage from the Zapruder film--was surely a step toward the making of Natural Born Killers a scant few years later. My only question lies in Kevin Costner's performance as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. He gives his normal measured performance, but, apart from a workable Louisiana accent, never really delves into the character. Perhaps this is deliberate. After all, Garrison is only the means Stone uses to tell his story (putting other people's theories in the character's mouth along the way), so why wouldn't the actor playing him be just as much of a conduit? A familiar face that we have come to trust through his relationships with other quality films playing a man who we need to trust for the film to work. If this is so, it also explains the stunt casting of the key personalities: give us familiar faces so we don't have to learn new identities, we can just take what we know of their past performances and subconsciously layer that over the new ones. I could keep going on but suffice to say that JFK is one of my favorite films and I recommend it highly as entertainment--regardless of what you think about the cause of the assassination. (Other good reading on the subject is Don DeLillo's novel Libra, which suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald was hired to pull off an unsuccessful attempt on the president in order to blame it on Cuba and warn Kennedy to change his administration's relationship with that country.)"
One of the Finest (if not THE finest) films ever made
Quentin Xavier | USA | 04/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Oliver Stone epic blows me away every single time that I sit down to watch it. The direction is brilliant, the acting is stellar and the script is so well researched (I know, I own the documented script), so sharp, so thoughtful and so intriguing. Every aspect of the movie comes together perfectly, keeping you hooked throughout the entire film. The movie takes on the hefty approach of an inner-governmental conspiracy brought to light by the unpopular new Orleans DA Jim garrison. Many people thought he was a flake, a radical, and completely insane for pursuing what seemed to be an unanswerable mystery surrounding the assassination of Presidnet Kennedy. In the film, Stone has used documents, historical facts and leads from Garrison and co.'s investigation. According to the film, Oswald was most likely exactly what he had claimed...a patsy.I won't, under good conscience, ruin any more of the plot for any potential first-time viewers, but I will say this: this is a landmark film for american cinema. Oliver Stone has given us a film that is daring, shocking and completely convincing. Lone gunman my rear-end!..."