Never Seen It: JFK

NSI_JFK
BY ERIN TORRANCE

Date released: December 20, 1991

Date watched: November 20, 2013

Why now?: With today marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, there’s been a lot of coverage in the media regarding the case and the conspiracies. The event was one that shocked the world, yet no one really knows exactly what happened that day—it’s perhaps the greatest unsolved case in American history. In film, Oliver Stone’s JFK is seen as the benchmark film rounding up the questions, speculated answers and the possible solving of this open case. Not knowing a whole lot about all of the theories surrounding the event, I felt it was time to educate myself

Why not then?: Simple, I was only two years old, and I doubt my mom would’ve wanted to sit through a three-hour movie with me (oh, and four other kids).

Expectations:

  • Serious drama, filled with lots of flashbacks, shouting, and near-death experiences—I could only assume the main character would be risking his life uncovering such hot secrets
  • Some background information on Kennedy, appearances by his family in the flashbacks, some more rounded view of the president’s political life and reasons as to why someone would want to kill him
  • The near-solving of the case through a recounting of the events before, during, and after Kennedy’s assassination; something linear that clearly drew out the contentious theories surrounding his death

What I actually got:

  • Non-linear bits and pieces being revealed through flashbacks, investigations, interviews, and researching of police records/the Warren report
  • Very little focus on Kennedy, his political views, and his family life; the elements were there, but they were given much less focus than I expected
  • While he was only on screen for a short stint, Donald Sutherland’s role as “X,” an ex-CIA agent tuning Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) into what was going on behind the scenes, was very convincing—his delivery was natural and in my opinion, he drew everything together for the conclusion of the film.
  • Appearances by John Candy, playing cool cat Dean Andrews, and Wayne Knight, playing Numa Bertel, a member of Garrison’s investigation team; it was strange seeing these two as characters that were far different from their iconic roles as Uncle Buck and Newman; the jury’s still out on whether this is a plus, or just a distraction
  • One final speech from Garrison that perfectly sums up everything the movie mentioned in about a tenth of the time
  • One negative: the thematic music in some instances was overbearing in scenes where the dialogue was essential to understanding the theories undercutting the entire film. I found myself adjusting the volume frequently and having to rewind to catch what was being said

One night-in stand or second date potential?: Here’s the deal with JFK—it’s long. I’m not so sure this would be a movie you’d want to watch a second time (though I had to watch it three times to really get through the full three hours); however, I’d still file this one as having second date potential. Here’s why: due to the depth and length of this film, I think it’s best watched in one-hour segments. Having said that, if you find yourself less compelled to watch the second “segment,” I’d suggest just forwarding it to Garrison’s speech in court; it offers a good summary of everything the film alleges… and a couple tears if you’re extra sensitive.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwfI93JFyUY]
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