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January 13, 1992 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-01-13

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ARTS
*The Michigan Daily Monday, January 13,1992 Page 5
Oliver Stone poses troubling,
unanswered questions in JFK

JFK
dir. Oliver Stone

'

by Marie Jacobson

cluding Sissy Spacek, Donald Su-
therland, Ed Asner, Jack Lemmon
and Joe Pesci.
This talent, woven together
throughout Stone's fact-packed,
fast-paced synthesis of real and
recreated footage, culminates in
what is arguably the most riveting

On November 22, 1963, at 12:30
p.m., President John Fitzgerald
Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas'
Dealey Plaza. This much is clear.
But 28 years later, the greatest
'whodunnit' of the century remains
plagued by ongoing speculation and
debate.
Did Lee Harvey Oswald act
alone, as the Warren Commission
insisted? Was the assassination a
coup d'etat executed by the Pen-
tagon and the CIA? If so, was the
Mafia involved? Where did the fatal
shot originate? Could one bullet
have wounded both Kennedy and
former Texas governor John Con-
nally? And finally, the question
that has echoed across the span of
nearly three decades: why?
Enter Oliver Stone, the Oscar-
winning director of such films as
Wall Street, Platoon and Born on the
Fourth of July. His latest offering is
JFK, a disturbing, powerful exami-
nation of the controversial theories
that have emerged to counter the in-
consistencies and weaknesses trou-
bling the Warren Commission's
conclusions.
At the helm of Stone's melo-
drama is Kevin Costner, America's
premier politically-correct nice guy.
Costner plays New Orleans D.A.
Jim Garrison, who prosecuted the
only Kennedy assassination trial
ever held - and lost.
Costner is flanked by an impres-
sive lineun of acting luminaries, in-

Oswald owned the rifle that fired
the bullets that hit Kennedy and
Connally.
According to Stone, Garrison
was the people's champion, self-
lessly crusading for truth and jus-
tice in the face of cover-up and con-
spiracy. Although his investigation
was certainly courageous, critics
dismissed Garrison's ever-changing
conjectures.
According to Stone, presiden-
tial hopeful Robert Kennedy died in
full view of the American public
immediately following his final,
fateful speech. Any history major
will tell you, however, that Sirhan
Sirhan shot Kennedy in the kitchen,
not the lobby - and that he was de-
clared legally dead the following
day.
These are issues of fact, and in his
defense, Stone has admitted to al-
lowing himself a certain amount of
dramatic license in order to advance
his main theories. What Stone can-
not answer, in his conception of a
complex, cold-blooded conspiracy,
is why both he and Garrison escaped
unscathed to expose the terrible
"truth."
Although Stone filters history
by carefully highlighting only the
facts that support his own theories,
JFK nevertheless poses questions
about Kennedy's assassination that
cannot be comfortably dismissed. In
Stone's world of king-makers and
king-takers, where do you fit in? See
the fiction, search for the facts.
JFK is playing at Showcase and
Briarwood.

Stone

movie of the year. But while JFK is
a fascinating film laden with heady
amounts of verifiable factual data,
it is nevertheless given to flights of
wild, even neurotic, conjecture:
According to Stone, Kennedy
would have withdrawn American
troops from Vietnam. A power-
hungry military and its voracious
defense contractors countered with
the assassination plot. In reality,
however, there is little solid evi-
dence to suggest that Kennedy ex-
pressed any such resolve to recall
American soldiers.
According to Stone, Oswald
was exactly what he claimed to be
upon his arrest: a "patsy," a scape-
goat. Nevertheless, ballistics show

Look, it's the old music world order holding the younger generation by the throat. Violence! Guns! Evil! Surf
Nazis should live, baby! Youth fascism will never die! (photo courtesy of Surf Nazis Must Die)
by Annette Petruso

Jaka's Story
Dave Sim and Gerhard
Aardvark-Vanaheim
The term "graphic novel" is a
fairly new one. It has developed
within the comic book industry to
describe comics of greater length
and, generally, greater artistic ambi-
tion and seriousness than one finds
in the average comic book.
. There are, however, graphic
novels and then there are Graphic
Novels. At 486 solid pages of
remarkable art and emotionally
wrenching fiction, Jaka's Story is
one of the latter.
Jaka's Story combines the skills
of two men. Gerhard created the
background art for the book, and his
work is remarkable for its complex-
ity and detail, whether it depicts a
Channel Z
Enlarge your mind tonight with
an interesting PBS special. Ameri-
can Experience (9 p.m., Channel
56) presents an episode titled
"Love in the Cold War" about an
American couple who gave up their
,child due to their devotion the
American Communist Party. Truly
TV worth watching.
But as usual, you cable-hooked
folks are luckiest: The Grapes of
Wrath (9 p.m., TNT) starring Henry
Fonda will air alongside Fonda on
Fonda (8 p.m., TNT). Jane Fonda
opens up (she dishes the dirt) on her
famous family and the rocky, yet
loving, relationship between she and
her father. Convenient choice of
network, Jane.

panoramic view from above a city or
a simple wooden wall. The book
was written by Dave Sim, who also
did the foreground artwork, allow-
ing him to apply his talent for sho-
wing emotion in the faces of his
Jaka's Story may well
become one of those
private joys that
somehow mean more
than those over-
analyzed books that
the rest of the world
has read.
characters.
The story consists of three men
in love with the same woman named

Jaka - a love square, if you will. A
fourth man (who happens to be ho-
mosexual, a rarity in the realm of
comic books) happily watches and
manipulates the others. This situa-
tion and its results are played out in
the midst of an extremely repres-
sive medieval society.
The characters make the piece all
the more powerful. As Sim says in
his foreword, "It contains no heroes
and no villains; merely people set in
motion and orbit around each
other." They are indeed "merely
people," figures that we cannot help
sympathizing with when the little
world they construct around them-
selves begins to fall apart.
Jaka's husband - the ultimate
example of "ignorance is bliss" -
See BOOKS, Page 9

"'If noise is where language
ceases, then to describe it is to im-
prison it again with adjectives."
- Simon Reynolds in Blissed
Out - the Raptures of Rock
British music critic Simon
Reynolds is in his late 20's and as
such has a very different perspective
on music - and writing about it -
than the generation of critics that
came before him. This includes fel-
low Brit Charles Shaar Murray
(Crosstown Traffic, Shots from the
Hip) and respected American critic
Greil Marcus (Lipstick Traces,
Dead Elvis).
While age affects a music critic's
writing approach, the fact that mu-
sic is produced by an industry is al-
most more important. The industry,
which is affected by the market,
regulates what kind of music is pro-
duced. In turn, the business side af-
fects who and what gets written
about. If language imprisons mu-
sic's noise, the industry shackles it
and almost beats it to death.
The interview is the most sus-
ceptible part of the music journal-
ist's reportage to the business side
of the music industry.
Murray says, "A lot of

(interviews) are done in very neu-
tral settings like a room in a record
company office or a hotel room and
the setting doesn't tell you any-
thing about that person. It's neither
their own place nor is it a place
they've chosen to be and there's only
so much that somebody can tell you
in forty-five minutes and if they
happen to be a fair to medium good
bullshitter, you don't really learn
anything ...
"All you come away with is,
like, a very quick snapshot of that
person participating in what is es-
sentially a PR process. You don't
make any real human to human con-
tact with them. You're just sort of
different cogs in a PR process ..."
Some writers bypass the inter-
view altogether and simply write
what they think about the music.
Marcus, for example, doesn't see the
interview as part of his creative pro-
cess.
"I don't care what the people
I'm writing about think," he says.
"I mean, there is that arrogance that
goes into writing criticism, that is
you are ultimately trying to re-
spond to the music ... You're trying
to make sense of your response and
talk to other people about it and
you're trying to bring your knowl-
edge and your ability to spend your
time obsessing about this subject,"
Marcus says.
"I don't care what Van Mor-
rison thinks he's doing. If Van Mor-

rison moves me with a song about
Jesus, I don't really want Van
Morrison to tell me how he came to
Jesus. I don't give a damn about
Jesus ... But I want to know what's
going on in the music that it can
move someone who doesn't care
about Jesus ..."
But who is making this noise,
Marcus or Morrison? Even if the in-
terview is ultimately a PR exercise
for the New Album or the New
Tour or the New Record Company,
it is the only organized way of find-
ing out what's going on in the
band's head (unless you happen to
know the musician personally and
can just call him or her up at your
leisure).
The critic is just as important as
the musician in the world of music
criticism/journalism, but how much
does "obsessing" about the music
have to do with the music itself?
Isn't it co-opting the music, tearing
it from its parents and adopting it as
one's own, giving it a new identity?
Is this bad or just different?
Murray: "It's a completely dif-
ferent discipline, being an inter-
viewer, than it is sitting at home,
letting the phenomenon of the mu-
sic ... get to work inside your skull
and start firing neurons and making
connections."
Marcus: "To me, it's just think-
ing. It's not sitting down and say-
ing, 'Now, I will take this apart and
See ROCK, Page 8

4

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