Saturday, October 20, 2007

Costner's JFK

[This article is copied from my old blog. This was written a couple of years back]

I don't take my knowledge of Hollywood movies too seriously. I am at best a casual watcher and at worst a nominal self appointed analyst/critic.

There isn't a particular genre of movies that i have an affinity for. Yes i love comedies and spoofs. Action thrillers are great. Sometimes dramas are fine.Sci-Fis are great if made well. Can't say that about all Sci-Fis though.Romantics ... mmm.. not sure.

But four Hollywood movies which shook me from my core and which affected me for some time were 1] Pulp Fiction 2]Godfather I and II 3] Shwashank's Redemption and 4] JFK. And not necessarily in that order.

Pulp Fiction for its "casual" violence and style, Godfather off course for its grand setting and almost intoxicating story line, Shwashank's.. for its brilliant ending and JFK for its absolute commitment to details.I have not seen a movie script more glued to details than JFK. It was an epic made to depict a monumental event in the American history. That Oliver Stone would have walked a very tight rope making that movie shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

I am not sure if many republicans would have hated that movie. If you make efforts to separate the movie's political overtones, you get , what i should call a Master-Piece.The story is based on Kennedy's murder and follow up on its investigation. Its a period movie based in the 60s.The film is an essay on how the vigour and dedication of one man and his team of associates can rise above the highest powers. For me nothing symbolizes this film's excellence more than Kevin Costner's closing speech to the Jury. It was spotless. Almost impeccable work of fine acting. You just stop and listen to this man speak, endlessly.

Apart from Costner's acting, the Director's brilliance in gradually building up the story and along with that the emotion, is an education in film-making itself.Writes a critic."The subject matter is incredibly controversial and subjective but Stone's delivers it with such emotion and raw power that his alternate myth to the Warren Report seems factual."

The movie is also a salute to this nation's true democracy. A democracy where a politically uncomfortable film is allowed to not only be produced but released without hiccups even during the rule of the government which is at odds with the movie's views. In India especially, politically incorrect movies have little or no place at all.
(A point in case, "Aandhi"-which was banned)

When Americans talk of liberty and freedom of speech they mean it. But in some ways the movie's story tells a paradoxical situation regarding exactly that. That is , freedom of views.

Kennedy was a liberal at heart. He had already made enemies within the CIA because of his diametrically opposite views apart from others,on Cuban Missile issue and racial tolerance. His views were not in synch with the higher ups in the most feared Intelligence office of the world.

As the movie shows at the start, Kennedy had it coming.

Kennedy had snatched an improbable victory in elections. He with his wife had grown into iconic figures in a very short span of time. The Kennedy's symbolized power,glamour and style for the 60s America which was flushed with money and power.The Kennedy's lifestyle, their hollywood connections, their good looks was what would qualify as the "talk of the country".

The conservatives surely were'nt impressed. And Kennedy might have 'crossed the line' a few times on a few issues for CIA to take the extreme step of eliminating him. (The movie without naming CIA, makes it more than obvious that CIA was behind his murder).

The best part of the movie is that it is very subtle in its presentation. There's an understated aggression but the blame is not squarely pushed in CIA's direction. A lot of questions are kept hanging intentionally, i feel, to keep the viewer in state of perennial intrigue.

But as i mentioned earlier, Costner's closing speech is a class act. An act of a helpless lawyer who is too small to fight a huge system by himself. Costner looses the case, but makes the point. He does not loose without a fight and thats what the movie is all about. That Costner is going to loose the case is known all along, but his effectual verbal advocacy of what he stands for and case itself is the movie's highlight.

JFK for me remains a collector's item. I have seen this movie a couple of times and may watch it some more times (probably when it flashes back on the cable). I haven't seen Kevin Costner's other movies except for "Bull Durham". But doesn't matter. JFK proves his acting credentials way beyond anybody's doubt.

All in all, JFK takes the cake for story-telling and presentation. If you got 5 hours to spare on a week-end, one of the ways to use it would be to get this DVD. You won't be sorry.

1 comment:

Rohit said...

Those 4 movies appear in my favs as well. JFK is a great movie and if you enjoy it, you would also enjoy 13 days, also a Costner movie.

Some of my other favs are usual suspects, goodfellas, schindler's list, saving private ryan, forrest gump...

You should also watch Path to war (if you haven't)...about Johnson's presidency and the vietnam war.