JFK: Ultimate Collector's Edition Oliver Stone

JFK: Ultimate Collector's Edition Oliver Stone
Forty-five years after JFK's assassination and 17 after Oliver Stone released his flawed magnum opus, Warner Brothers issues a box set that not only enlarges JFK the film but also illuminates JFK the man. This elaborate package resembles the recent Bonnie and Clyde box. It starts with a 44-page hardcover book of production stills highlighting stars Kevin Costner (Jim Garrison), Sissy Spacek (Garrison's wife), Tommy Lee Jones (alleged conspirator Clay Shaw), Joe Pesci (co-conspirator David Ferrie) and Gary Oldman (Lee Harvey Oswald). Garrison was the New Orleans D.A. who remains the only public figure to ever try and persecute anyone connected to Kennedy's murder. In this case it's Clay Shaw, New Orleans businessman and ultra-right winger who reportedly had ties to Oswald. Stone channels his crusade through Garrison; he contends that Lyndon Johnson and the American military industrial complex murdered the President in order to green light the Vietnam War. JFK unleashed a firestorm when the film hit theatres in 1991 and remains contentious today. However, the controversy has overshadowed the high quality of filmmaking. Stone freely mixes film stocks and points-of-view to deliver a dazzling piece of visual storytelling. His command of this material is so strong that the viewer never gets lost in the many detours and flashbacks that comprise history's most notorious murder mystery. Sure, Costner's performance is hit-and-miss but the A-list cast are superb. The editing and cinematography continue to shine all these years later. In addition to the book, the box comes with a fascinating 85-minute documentary produced at the time of the JFK release. It looks at the history of the Warren Commission that insisted that Oswald was the lone gunman. The documentary goes on to trace the rise of the conspiracy theories that immediately sprung up and considers the possible culprits: Castro, the Mafia, F.B.I. chief J. Edgar Hoover, the Russians and the C.I.A. Less polished is the other documentary, The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, a two-hour bio that traces the rise of the Kennedy clan from Ireland to Teddy. The film's wooden voiceover sounds like a second-rate high school video but extensive footage of the Kennedys delivering rare speeches make up for any shortcomings. Kennedy's inaugural address in colour is the highlight. Otherwise the bonus features are the same as the previous double-DVD release: the same director's audio commentary, same deleted/extended scenes and same two featurettes. Six large glossy postcards pair each star with bios of the real-life people they portray. Twenty more picture cards tell the story of the Kennedy clan. The greatest surprise are reproductions of Kennedy's inaugural speech, personal letters and postcards to his parents, a telegram to De Gaulle and LBJ's White House memo to JFK explaining whether America could beat the Russians in the space race or not. This set is no typical double-dip but a valuable addition to the libraries of cineastes and historians alike. (Warner)