Thursday, January 03, 2008
Written by Fumo Verde
JFK was assassinated over forty years ago and still the conspiracy stirs like a watered-down vodka tonic. In late November of 1963 the question on everybody’s lips was “How could someone as inconsequential as Oswald kill someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy?” This DVD doesn’t answer that question nor does it bring to light any new evidence or give us any deeper clues then what we have had over the decades. Director Robert Stone doesn’t uncover anything revealing about Oswald and he isn’t trying to; what he is trying to do is follow the fallout that still breeds with in the American psyche today.
He isn’t trying to side with either camp, though for the first thirty minutes I was little pissed, “Great, another fracking conspiracy flick” I thought, but as the documentary rolled on I got the sense that Stone was showing what happened and how it became what it is now. He interviews people who were there at the time like young news reporter Dan Rather and attorney Mark Lane, who represented Oswald’s mother. Others, who lived through those “dark times” when leaders were being picked off one by one, were authors Edward J. Epstein and Norman Mailer who both first believed conspiracy but have come full circle and know that Oswald was the lone shooter. It was Epstein’s book that asked if the Warren Commission had moved too quickly through the evidence to come up with the lone-shooter verdict. Lane opened up the Pandora’s box of conspiracies with his own book concerning the JFK assassination and gave way to the floodgate of books, well over two thousand have been written telling the real story of who shot the President.
Some of the things that I liked about this film were the way Stone laid down a great background of what the fears, hopes, and aspirations or our nation were at the time before the death of the President. Fears of the Soviets and Red China along with Castro’s Cuba less than ninety miles away, it was the age of the atom and the atom bomb and we were scared shitless. Mailer and Epstein are the voices of reason throughout the film and Mailer, who knew a lot about covert actions, explains one of the many reasons he finally concluded that Oswald acted alone, and I have to agree: after forty years not one person has come forward, not a single shred of new evidence has ever panned out. Computer simulations recounting the direction of the bullets along with scientific forensics have prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the kill shot exited out the front of the president’s head. And yes, a former Marine can get off three shots with a bolt-action riffle within the period of less than five seconds.
We get taken again on the ride that our country is obsessed with and yet while watching this we still don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we want to believe the leaders we elect to speak for we the people are good and honest and as a nation we stand for truth and justice. Even today the conspiracies about 9/11 circulate like bad air in a DC-10. You either believe Oswald did it alone or you don’t, but this isn’t the question. The question should be why don’t we believe our leaders anymore? Oswald’s action has repercussions that reverberate today, and if anything, it’s Oswald’s Ghost that have us asking the questions we ask today.
Written by Puño Estupendo
Being a comic book reader, I'm always curious about any film adaptation of the medium. Most seem to be mediocre at best but I'm usually compelled to see them nonetheless. Sometimes this curiosity can lead me to a bad place. It's quite a kick to the shins seeing a character that you're really fond of on the printed page be watered down or neutered into something that only vaguely resembles the source material. Granted, this story was also in novel form (which was also written by Gaiman) but all of my preconceptions were based on the comic book version, which is very stylish and pleasantly hearkens back to old school fairy tales and myths. Matthew Vaughn's directorial version of this handles itself pretty well.
Stardust tells a tale that begins with a young man that dares to go through to the other side of a wall that borders his village. An old guard is posted by the one place that has a break in it and he reminds him that it is forbidden to cross into the land that lies on the other side. Through a little moment of humorous trickery, Dunstan Thorn gets past the old guard and discovers a village, very unlike his own, on the other side. Carnival like and quite literally magical, Dunstan sees a beautiful girl and is immediately smitten. This quickly leads to a commencement of that passion and then Dunstan must return to his home, leaving his new love behind. Cut to months later and a newborn baby is presented to Dunstan, his son Tristan.
What follows is a tale of Tristan off on a journey that goes in his father's footsteps for reasons of the heart. As clichéd as it sounds, a fairy tale of wonderful proportions plays itself out. Stardust takes the viewer on a welcomed journey of the fantastic and all under the umbrella of classic storytelling. Evil witches, misplaced love, magic, and even a little bit of a coming of age. It's a tale of escapism and is crafted very solidly from Gaiman's well-devised source material.
Though the look of the film could have benefited from more inspired presentation, Matthew Vaughn still delivers a story well worth watching. Everything could have visually been more fitting were it in more of a Terry Gilliam-type fashion, but it still comes through because of the solid plot line. Totally ignore the Robert DeNiro plugs from all of the press; he's miscast and has one of the most poorly delivered takes on a character that I've seen in quite a while, but the film is still solid despite these weaknesses.
You can even watch this one with the kids without having to roll your eyes too much. It'll keep you more than hooked and you'll be glad you followed through with Tristan's journey.