JFK: The cultural impact of an assassination

jfk-assassination-1963-conspiracy-theory-oliver-stone

This year marks 25 years since the release of Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), starring Kevin Costner and a flamboyant supporting cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek. The three hour-plus film reignited debate over the 1963 assassination of US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A quarter of a century on, that debate still festers. In addition to Stone’s fascinating (though hugely flawed) production, Kennedy’s murder has spawned countless books, films, television documentaries and websites, each devoted to solving the crime. Virtually all take a position on the shooting underpinned by one of two competing theories. On … Continue reading

Meeting Adam Curtis on Bitter Lake

president-roosevelt-meets-saudi-king-bitter-lake-adam-curtis

Most broadcasters – especially those who work at the BBC – must produce their programmes to conform to strict guidelines. They must be within five seconds of the required length, they must comply with a rigid format and they must meet the approval of layers of executives. There are a handful of prominent programme makers who are allowed to set their own guidelines. Alan Yentob (Imagine) is his own executive producer and allows himself the freedom to make his programmes as long as he thinks they should be. Stephen Poliakoff has spent much of his career not bothered by the … Continue reading

All Watched Over By Adam Curtis

adam-curtis-2005-films

Sitting in front of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, it is easy to let the brilliance of the style wash over you. Illustrated with dazzling imagery, one big idea morphs seamlessly into another, while Curtis’s hypnotic narration smoothes away any cognitive bumps. Like attending a lecture by firebrand philosopher Slavoj Zizek, one comes away feeling overwhelmed and inspired by the relentless pace and mesmerising variety of idea. But there remains a niggling feeling you may have been bamboozled, a feeling that if you stopped and thought about the big themes, they would collapse into a pile of … Continue reading