A rebuke to official history and a challenge to continue investigating the crime of the century, Oliver Stone’s JFK is electric muckraking filmaking. This massive, never-boring political thriller, which most closely resembles Costa-Gavras’ Z in style and impact, lays out just about every shred of evidence yet uncovered for the conspiracy theory surrounding the Nov. 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The Warren Report is treated as a cover-up, a myth against which the director, for lack of hard answers that never may be provided, is proposing a myth of his own.
Working in a complex, jumbled style that mixes widescreen, archival footage, TV clips, black & white, slow motion, docu-drama recreations, time jumps, repeated actions from various view-points, still photos, the Zapruder film and any other technique at hand [with narration by Martin Sheen], Stone uses the sum of conspiracy theory points made by New Orleans d.a. Jim Garrison and others since to suggest as strongly as possible that Oswald was, as he claimed before he was killed, ‘a patsy.’
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[Script is based on the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kenned y by Jim Marrs.]
Garrison (Kevin Costner) begins delving into a mysterious netherworld of right-wing, anti-Castro homosexuals populated by the bewigged David Ferrie (Joe Pesci), suave businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) and unpredictable hustler Willie O’Keefe (Kevin Bacon). Garrison begins to suspect that the US government’s military industrial complex initiated the killing.
Costner may not resemble the real Garrison much, and Stone no doubt slides over many of the attorney’s flaws. But the actor, in a low-key but forceful performance, nicely conveys the requisite grit, curiosity and fearlessness. Sissy Spacek is stuck with almost nothing but nagging lines, complaining that his obsessive quest is driving them apart.
1991: Best Cinematography, Editing.
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actor (Tommy Lee Jones), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound