Reel Quick: JFK


JFK (1991)

JFK movie poster

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ed Asner, John Candy, Wayne Knight, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci

Directed by: Oliver Stone (Alexander, The Doors, Natural Born Killers)

Synopsis: The president has been murdered! Are YOU a bad enough dude to figure out who killed the president?

Best part(s): When Jim Garrison and one of his staff tries to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald couldn’t possibly have fired three shots in 5.6 seconds… then they fire three shots in 5.6 seconds…

Worst part: This movie is 99.9999999999% bullshit. 

Best line: “Jim Garrison is right. There has been a conspiracy in New Orleans—but it’s a plot of Garrison’s own making.”

Nudity: They could have had Jackie Kennedy fully nude while riding in the car in Dallas and it would have been just as accurate as the rest of the film.

Overall: Like many, I was a teenage nimrod when this movie came out. It presents this incredible conspiracy that seems entirely plausible as you’re watching it, and you’re thinking, “My god, I can’t believe all this stuff actually happened!” I even read Jim Garrison’s book back then. It’s an interesting feeling, thinking you’re “in the know” on something like that. Well, like eating your boogers, when you get older and start thinking things through for yourself, everything changes. Oliver Stone made an enthralling movie here. The mystery is compelling and the visuals are jarring. It’s an extremely well-made movie and taken as a fictional crime whodunit it’s well worth a watch. But unfortunately, Oliver Stone is a megalomaniacal turd swallower, and Jim Garrison was a headline-seeking whore. True, there was a president named John F. Kennedy who was shot and killed on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, but that’s kind of where reality ends for this flick. I’m not going to pretend that I have some magical knowledge of what exactly happened that day, no one really does, but for some reason it’s better for some people to believe that there was this outlandish conspiracy on a multitude of levels than it is to believe that one disgruntled nutjob shot the president, even though there has never been any credible, indisputable evidence to the contrary. But it’s fun to think that the government buried it. Regardless, the theories and situations Oliver Stone puts forth in this film are just ludicrous, and nearly all of them are easily debunked. Check out this website, which lists 100 things the movie JFK got wrong. It’s a lot to get through but if you’re really interested in the subject it’s definitely worth reading as they’ve done exhaustive research culled from multiple sources about what really happened in contradiction with Stone’s warped view of the events. Stephen King’s excellent 11-22-63 is more historically accurate than JFK, and that book is about a time-traveler. I’m not trying to disparage anyone who truly believes in JFK conspiracy theories; you can believe whatever you want, but just because you don’t believe the government’s story doesn’t mean you should readily believe Stone’s whacked out nonsense. Shit, he might as well have theorized that R.O.T.O.R. assassinated Kennedy.

Score: 8 as an awesome fictional crime movie; -86 for historic accuracy (out of 10)

8 thoughts on “Reel Quick: JFK

  1. I try not to take too much of this film’s (or Stone’s) theorizing seriously but as a drama the film is amazing to watch unfold. The editing, the score by John Williams and R. Richardson’s cinematography are all astounding examples of the power of film and how to use it to provoke fear, anxiety and even debate. Great post! Thanks!


  2. Good review Brian. There’s so much information to take in here, however, Stone paces it in such a way that isn’t over-bearing and at least gives you the full picture of what’s worth knowing, remembering and actually paying attention to.


  3. Pingback: Reel Quick: All the President’s Men | Hard Ticket to Home Video

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