“So what happens then? Pandemonium.”

Okay, it’s no shock that I loved the movies the 80s had to offer.  A lot of it is fed by nostalgia, but the 80s did have a lot of very original, great stories that were told….

but…

The 90s are my favorite.  I know, that sounds like sacrilege given my post history, but there was something about those movies from the 90s…

I was 14 when I saw this one.  I remember the experience being very surreal.  I was glad my parents allowed me to watch it with them.  I remember not having a lot of interest at first and thinking, “If it’s boring, I can leave and re-read The Hobbit.”

I did not end up re-reading The Hobbit, and I don’t think I blinked.

The subject matter seemed very dry when my mom started telling me about it.  I started wondering if they were going to have enough material to make this three hour movie compelling.

JFK” is many things…compelling is at the top of the list.

courtroom JFK

I believed that John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald…end of story.  That’s what all the history books said when we studied it in our U. S. History classes.  I had no idea there could be other thoughts as to any other players involved.  Remember, I grew up in a small town in Southeast Idaho.  “Small town,” key phrase.  Speculation and outside thinking are quelled in places like that.

I remember having a discussion in class in elementary school with my friend Mickey.  Some kids were talking about JFK as we were at that age when we start to ask questions about death, and JFK’s was still the most famous.  Everyone talked about it.  We had a substitute teacher that day and she decided to make herself useful and butt-in on our conversation–teachers, right?  She asked us in a quizzy sorta way, “Who killed John F. Kennedy?”

A barrage of ten-year-olds shouted “Lee Harvey Oswald” or “Oswald.”

….

Slight silence.

Then my very brave friend Mickey said, “El Bee Jay.”

Silence again.  Everybody turned and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“El Bee Jay?  Who is that?”

The substitute–annoyed–“Lindon B. Johnson…the 36th president of the United States.”

After a few seconds of our WTF faces…the substitute was effective at changing the subject and we moved on.  I was still confused and asked my mom what Mickey meant later.

I remember that she had an “admirable” grin on her face when I posed the question to her regarding Mickey’s comment.  She said, “A lot of people believe that he had something to do with it, but it’s never been proven.”

And that was the discussion.

I remembered the exact moments from Mickey making her revelation in class to my mom’s comment on it as we watched the credit scroll at the end of the movie.  I felt odd, and somewhat unsettled.  I understood what Mickey was getting at all those years ago, but in the end, there’s no clear evidence either way.

For entertainment purposes…that’s how a movie with this subject matter should end; “in question.”

Experiencing it is unique.  A lot of the story unfolds in voice over, on top of blurred shots of jolted flashbacks and reenactments.

jfk

We truly experience the inside of the mind of Jim Garrison as he tries to unfold all of the testimonies, the forensics, and we try to determine through his vessel who are the liars and which of them is just bending the truth; slightly.

It is Kevin Costner‘s finest performance on film, yet people never mention it when they talk about his movies, as his best.  As great as it is, it’s oddly forgettable. It’s not flashy.  It’s not sexy.  There’s no spectacle.  It is just an actor’s honest performance, about a man with convictions that must see things through in a world of “no.” It is his best in every way.

Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci are lights out as well.  What an amazing set of roles for both of these often typecast tough guys.  Amazing departures.

By the movies end, you want to believe and feel our protagonists’ argument all along; but there is a little tickle at the back of your brain that tells you not to.  Years of programming from small town life.

When the credits started to roll, I talked with my mom about the movie.  I really wanted to know if she liked it.  She said she did, but it was begrudgingly.  I remember her telling me she could never see herself watching that ever again….

We’ve watched it together on two other occasions since (grinning).

It’s one of those movies you have to watch multiple times, like-it-or-not, because you’d hate yourself if you didn’t catch everything.  That’s the conundrum, however.  I have watched it five times, and I know that I’d pick up something new on the 6th viewing.

I’m looking forward to it.

——

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12 thoughts on ““So what happens then? Pandemonium.”

  1. I know what you mean about Kevin Costner’s performance. I think the same about Kevin Bacon (perhaps it’s a Kevin thing) in Mystic River, where I think that people forget him because Sean Penn and Tim Robbins have more flashy parts, but he’s beautifully understated and for me keeps it all together. I remember I even loved the music in JFK. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kevin Bacon was great I “JFK” too! Brief…and great. I agree about Mystic River as well. He is another actor that will probably have the largest screening for a lifetime achievement award; simply because he is in so many movies. I think he’s under appreciated.

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  2. I’m going to shock you and tell you that I never saw this movie. However, you have me intrigued and maybe this weekend I’ll try to find it on Google Play. I think Costner had few great acting movies. I personally loved him in “Capone” with Robert Deniro. I also loved him in Dances with Wolves, and my husband loved him in Bodyguard lol Tommy Lee Jones, one of my favorite actors up there with Christopher Walken. One of my favorite Tommy Lee Jones movies is the “Executioner’s Song” which was based on a true story, and of course he was amazing in Coal Miner’s Daughter and Old Man’s Country. Even when I haven’t seen a movie you have written about, you make me want to see it, and to me that’s great writing. Thank you for great articles.

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    1. It is great, but it is a time commitment running at 3 hours 8 minutes, so buckle up. I think you’re referring to “The Untouchables” re: Robert DeNero as Al Capone. 😉 I have not seen “The Executioner’s Song.” What is the premise? I LOVE “No Country for Old Men.”

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  3. Loved the movie, being Canadian in our school system and taught about you Americans 😉 in my ‘Man in Society’ class, Mr Black delved into the conspiracy theories of JFK. We as a country loved him! Often equating him as the new generation of Lincoln. Yes, LBJ was one of the theories. As we watched the footage over and over, we could not as teens understand how you folks missed the 2 different angles and shots. It was apparent to us there was more than 1 shooter so therefore more than one theory. You remember I’m sure, how worldly 16 yr old’s are ;).
    That was the class that had me following JFK write ups and movies to this day. I can’t get enough of ‘Camelot’, and my inquiring mind loves a good conspiracy theory as well.
    I haven’t seen this movie in a while but as the reader before me said…Think I’m gonna put some popcorn on and have another boo!
    Thanks again Clint, great read.

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    1. Thanks Tammy! It is hard for me to believe that Oswald was alone. Was he a shooter? More than likely…keyword “A” shooter…it’ll be one of those, “Will we ever know?” Doubtful.

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