JFK (1991) & Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy (1992)

Well, here it is. Most people have already seen this movie but here it is none the less. We all know the CIA and the mafia did it! George HW Bush was running Oswald in Dallas and Howard Hunt was in charge of the death squad at the grassy knoll. But if you want to see every detail replayed in excruciating and kaleidoscopic detail, here it is.

In terms of who actually pulled the trigger on the particular bullet, of the many fired during the attack, that ended Kennedy’s life, the story goes that it was either David Ferrie, played in the film by Joe Pesci, a member of the group apoplectically enraged by the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, or Frank Sturgis, one of the Watergate burglars. Many others were named in Hunt’s deathbed confession including a French gunman. Some also credit James Files’ detailed confession to being the ‘badge man’ behind the picket fence. As for the chief conspirators, most sources are in agreement that front and center and essential to the plot was none other than Lyndon Baines Johnson himself. Cui bono applies here, it seems.

The movie boasts Gary Oldman’s career-making turn as Oswald, Kevin Kostner in full crusader mode as Garrison and a whole cornucopia of other colorful performances from the likes of Kevin Bacon, Vincent D’Onofrio and Tommy Lee Jones. Really, who isn’t in this film?

Oliver Stone’s magnum opus is not his best work by a long shot, but it is an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza with classic performances by character actors at the top of their game and with few apparent budget restrictions; a garish, overblown melodrama that pulls out all the tricks Hollywood can muster and then some. While admittedly that makes it somewhat scattered in focus, it remains the defining cinematic document of one of the key moments in the USA’s descent into totalitarian oligarchy.

Also be sure to check out the companion documentary, made in 1992 but not released until 2013! Unexpectedly excellent.

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