Tag Archives: Jack Lemmon

Oliver Stone’s JFK

I’m not so much for political films but Oliver Stone’s JFK is an engrossing, obsessive, feverish and altogether brilliant piece of clandestine intrigue and I loved every minute of its impossibly long runtime (the director’s cut runs well over three hours). It might be excessive to take such an indulgent amount of time for one story to play out but Stone is fixated on every single aspect and detail of his narrative, scrutinizing the dark corners of shadowy politics, leaving no stone unturned and the result is a film that draws you in so close that at times the effect is breathless, a surging momentum full of moving parts, characters and secrets all unfolding in a mammoth production.

Stone has taken the real life investigation of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, used it as a launching pad and blasted off into his own theories, queries and plot turns. Kevin Costner is excellent and uncharacteristically vulnerable as Garrison, an idealistic family man determined to shine a light on the truth until he realizes he and his firm are in over their heads. This thing has one of the most jaw dropping ensemble casts I’ve ever seen assembled, right down to supporting turns, cameos and walk-ons populated by recognizable faces. Costner and his team are the constant, a dogged troupe that includes varied folks like Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight, Jay O. Sanders, Gary Grubbs and the always awesome Michael Rooker. We spend the most time with them as they discuss theories at length, argue in roundtable fashion, interview witnesses and it all feels eerily as if every discovery they make leads to ten more even more unnerving ones. Others show up throughout the film and when I say this is a cast for the ages I’m not even kidding. Jack Lemmon does paranoia flawlessly as a nervous informant they visit, Gary Oldman is a super creepy Lee Harvey Oswald, Joe Pesci impossibly rambunctious as oddball David Ferrie, Tommy Lee Jones and his poodle wig are icky as a corrupt US Senator and that’s just the start, there’s great work from everyone under the sun including John Candy, Walter Matthau, Sissy Spacek, Vincent D’onofrio, Kevin Bacon, Martin Sheen, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Edward Asner, Frank Whaley, Brian Doyle Murray, Bob Gunton, Lolita Davidovich, John Larroquette and more. Donald Sutherland is pure showstopper as a mystery man who has an epic, sixteen minute long tinfoil hat monologue that is so well delivered and perfectly pitched that we don’t even really notice what a massive enema of exposition it is simply because he and Stone keep up the energy levels and, in turn, us riveted.

That’s the thing here, I went in expecting perhaps something intriguing but maybe a little dry in places or bits that might lag because it is, after all, a three plus hour film revolving around politics. This is Stone though, and the way he films it is taut and immersive the *entire* way through, which is just so fucking impressive. He plays rogue agent with the facts, using established suspicions to draw one wild conclusion after another until we aren’t sure if everyone we see onscreen perhaps had something to do with JFK’s death. That’s his goal here though, he seeks not to provide concrete answers (how could he) but instil the kind of creeping dread, mounting uncertainty and fear that I imagine gripped the nation for years following this event. Conflicting conspiracy theories, clues that lead to nothing, unexplained and admittedly suspicious witness deaths, it’s all here and it all makes for one damn good mystery film.

-Nate Hill

Advertisements

James Foley’s GLENGARY GLEN ROSS

ggr-1_758_426_81_s_c1

The deconstruction of the alpha male has never been so fierce as it is in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. The entire film is one pitfall after pitfall of brazen machoism being shed, and the true colors of all the characters are blatantly glowing by the end of the film. They are men who strive to be the best, without having any idea what that really means.

David Mamet is one of America’s most seminal playwrights, and James Foley has always been a filmmaking champion in regards to slow burning character studies. Mix both these auteurs with the greatest cinematic ensemble ever, and what we have is a masterclass of filmmaking in any and every aspect possible.

The blistering dialogue and fiery performances are so powerful that after each dialogue exchange we’re left completely gobsmacked by what we’ve just witnessed. Regardless of how many times you’ve seen the film, how many times you’ve quoted Alec Baldwin’s punchy lines; the film is still as fresh and potent as your first viewing.

The film strikes a very fine balance bewteen tearing down the archetypal 20th century man, yet shadows as a cautionary tale of how hollow and empty all these characters are. Beneath the ego and big talk, these are all men who have put up the ultimate eminence front (it’s a put on). They are all incredibly sad and broken people, who have lived lives of emptiness, regardless of the charade of their salesmen banter.

This film remains the benchmark for an acting ensemble. Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, and Jonathan Pryce all feed off each other so well, it is an awesome experience to absorb. There have been fantastic ensembles before this film and after this film, but there will never be an equivalent calibre of actors together on screen ever again.