|Title:||JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass|
Other Movies Seen By This Director (16)
- Born on the Fourth of July
- The Hand
- Heaven & Earth
- Natural Born Killers
- South of the Border
- Talk Radio
- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
- World Trade Center
|03.28.22||Internet|| As time has gone on, I think JFK is maybe my favorite Oliver Stone movie. It stands in my memory as the first time I saw someone really go nuts with narrative style, using all types of crazy film stocks, intercutting documentary footage with staged recreations, with some sections flowing almost like cinematic essays or something. tons of actors, tons of exposition, tons of information flying around. And it built on Stone's reputation for incendiary filmmaking by adding a dose of conspiracy theory and outside narrative that he still carries today. So I thought it was interesting that he would do this documentary, which purportedly follows up on many topics from the film with since-declassified documents and accounts.|
A few more things before I get to my opinion of this. One is that Stone's documentary work has been just as controversial if not more than his feature films, mostly consisting of interviews with Castro, Putin, or south american leaders. I quite liked his alternate history show that he made for Showtime. Two: I understand that he's an asshole to be around and likes putting his actors in difficult situations and that it paid off with frenetic energy during his heyday, but three: he hasn't made anything really really good in quite a while. I want him to, I pull for him every time, but I think Any Given Sunday is his last good film.
Ok, this doc. Where it really shines is when he's delivering information. Practically ever second is dense with shit on screen and narration or CGI recreations and historical footage (even though some of it is like, well here's a car turning a corner even though it's probably not THAT car turning THAT corner that's being talked about, here is literally A car turning A corner to let you see what it would've been like when, in fact, that car turned that corner). It took me three sittings to get through this because I'd have to back it up if I ran into any distraction at all.
Where it falls for me is when he has lame shots of Stone himself walking through dealy plaza or filming him ask leading questions to set up his interview subjects to say what they're in the movie to say. In many of his docs, he takes a Nick Broomfield approach of making the movie about himself talking to this guy or going to this place, but here's he's more in the mode of showing historical footage and relying on narration to stitch his points together. So having him walking aimlessly around doesn't really fit.
Now, my sneaking suspicion is that I've just watched the feature version of the 4-part doc that he also released about JFK, and this is kinda like The Trip movies where i've basically watched the highlight reel... in which case I suppose having Donald Sutherland take over as narrator and Stone traipsing around the tiny bit that he does make more sense, because there's probably more of both of those things in the longer version. When I track down where to see that I'll have to watch it to see, but this journal is about movies not 4-part mini-series' so you'll never know :)
Overall, I mean I like the original movie, I do buy into this particular conspiracy theory, so I was engaged by this two hour version of Stone saying "Hey, World! I was right!" I do feel like it doesn't say much that his 90s movies doesn't say (except maybe a bit more on nefarious Allen Dulles CIA tomfoolery), but it was cool to see more footage of Oswald and JFK's autopsy photos and to hear from these guys (I thought it was funny that practically each subject had literally written a book about the specific thing they were talking about), but they're still preaching to the choir and I feel like Stone's re-treading a tiny bit to past hits to maybe try and get his mojo back or something. I mean he really got raked in the press for his Putin interviews and his response to the criticism was kinda odd to be honest. So maybe this is a way for him to get back to work or something who knows.
I suppose there could be a different doc made that shows a bunch of evidence supporting Oswald as the lone gunman but from this angle is sure as hell looks like something was covered up. What happened regardless though - and this is something that was mentioned toward the end and resonated with me - is that it seems like the end of America's post-war bliss. I've been thinking about recent events and how it definitely seems like we are no longer gaining altitude in terms of civilization's progress... so if now's in the decline then when was the zenith? Because in some aspects things are better today than they have ever been so when did we hit the top? I suppose an argument could be made that it was the 50s (as long as you were white and straight) and JFK's assassination marked the point where disillusion in government started to grow, fear and warmongering dominated our culture, and things started to slide toward the shit show of today. Of course, according to any James Ellroy book that's bullshit because things were always dirty. Pre-war, post-war, 60s, 70s, 80s... it's all dirty. Maybe viewed through that lens there's still hope for humanity? will the 2040s be better? Who knows... this doc was good if you liked Stone's original movie. If you didn't, don't bother.