By Niall Browne
JFK may just be the quintessential Oliver Stone movie. It covers US politics, it has a sprawling storyline, it’s filled with paranoia and it’s high on kinetic energy. It may also be his best film. Now in 2008 it is difficult to remember how much of an impact JFK had on, not only the world of film but on society. It’s no understatement to say that at the time its release, the film was a true phenomenon.
The film has an all star cast featuring Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland, Joe Pesci, Jack Lemon, Walter Matthau , Sissy Spacek and Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the true anchor of the film is Costner as Jim Garrison, a New Orleans DA who believes that there is more to John F. Kennedy’s on November 22, 1963 assignation that meets the eye.
The running time of this 205 minute flashes by, and if you decide to get yourself a drink or take a bathroom break (without pausing) then there is an awful lot that you will miss. Names, dates, events and locations are referenced, and Stone appears to be of the opinion that the viewer is up to speed (or at the very least – has a brain). Helping with this deluge of information comes the supporting cast. Stone has laced the film with memorable turns; from Lee Jones’ Clay Shaw a standout supporting role (never equalled until No Country For Old Men) and Pesci’s David Ferrie, who is all wig and paranoia.
Who cares if Stone plays fast and loose with the facts, as the old saying goes; it’s all true – give or take a lie or two. He has managed to deliver a magnificent film that should have cleaned up during the 1991 Oscars, when The Silence of The Lambs reigned supreme.
A master stroke of filmmaking, JFK stands beside All The Presidents Men as not only an excellent political film, but also one of the greatest studio pictures ever made. The Warner Bros. of today would never finance such a controversial film, and that is one of the reasons why it is so special in 2008.
Not a lot here that wasn’t included in the previously-released 2-disc edition – besides a nice 44-page book and Kennedy family featurette, ”the Kennedys: Americaâ€™s Emerald Kings” (2008) – but if you’re a fan of the film you might be interested in the double-dip. Ported over from the previous release are Oliver Stone’s commentary, deleted scenes, an interesting documentary on the ‘conspiracy’, multimedia essays, production notes and trailers.