30 June 2009

Executive Action

Executive Action
is sort of like the older, more boring brother of Oliver Stone's JFK. It's an incredibly sober account of a possible conspiracy theory behind the assassination, shot in documentary style. It's painstakingly slow, but actually pays very little attention to detail, the characters are vaguely constructed, no actual government agencies are named other than the Dallas Police, the dialogue is even more vague than the characters speaking it. The conspiracy described is similar to that in Oliver Stone's film, with a few nuanced differences. The only real credence that I can give to the film is that it was made almost twenty years before JFK, making it the first film of its kind (that kind being a real movie with a movie star (Burt Lancaster) about the JFK assassination conspiracy theories).

Executive action" refers to a real 1950s CIA term for assassination operations (ie Che Guevera and Fidel Castro), which was outlawed by the Ford administration in 1976. The film does little more than illustrate this term, combining stock footage and docudrama. The plot is, basically: A bunch of old guys get together (who exactly they are is vague; one assumes a collection of oil barons, bankers, senators, CIA black ops dudes) and plot to kill JFK, because he wants to get America out of Vietnam, but really they seem to just resent everything about him. This is followed by a slow recreation of all the steps of the conspiracy, most of which you've already seen in JFK, including doctoring the photo of Oswald with the rifle, setting up the triangulated fire, blah blah.

Some code that says "executive action" that needs to be deciphered for some reason

There were a couple things about this movie that were new/interesting/exciting:

Aerial film of the grassy knoll, etc:

According to this particular theory, Oswald was the patsy, but did not actually fire any weapon, and an Oswald double was used to establish his presence as a communist in New Orleans and Dallas. These scenes are hilarious, because, basically, the Oswald double goes to random places like the rifle store, causes a commotion by being an asshole and a pinko (at a car dealership he criticizes the salesman's American made cars), and then, when asked for his name, he pronounces very clearly, "LEE HARVERY OSWALD, O-S-W-A-L-D."

There's another cool tidbit at the end of the film, which is that of eighteen witnesses of the assassination, sixteen died within five years of 1963, the probability of which happening, according to some British newspaper, was 100 trillion to one. One witness died of a karate chop.

One more nuance is that the conspiracy described is of a much smaller scale than that of JFK and other sources. The Dallas police wasn't involved, they were just inept. In fact, very few people were involved, and they relied on the basic ineptness of everyone surrounding the president.

Oswald in this film is not developed much. He's simply a patsy, one who fits the needs of the conspirators. But there is plenty of stock footage, actually more than I've seen before, and there's something captivating about Oswald's demeanor before the press and police, something that allows one to question what really happened and what he really knew.

23 June 2009

Double Down


I read "Double Down" by Frederick and Steven Barthelme recently, after reading a piece in the New Yorker about a new biography of Donald Barthelme that mentions the book, which is about his two brothers (also fiction writers) blowing half of their inheritance at casinos in two years, a quarter of a million dollars. The gambling spree took place following their father's death, which was preceded by their mother's death a little more than a year before, and Donald Barthelme's death in 1989.

I saw a black and white french movie about gambling a few years ago (I can't remember the name or find it on the internet). I don't think it was a very good movie, but I found it strangely compelling, probably because I've never done anything remotely like gambling, nor have I even been in a casino. I don't imagine that I could ever become a gambling addict (I would need some money first) but it's crazy to watch it happen to other people (even fictional ones).

This obviously isn't about a conspiracy theory, but in the end the two brother's are kicked out of one of the casino's and then sued for "conspiracy." It was interesting to read about the legal definition of a conspiracy. So, after spending a year or more in this one casino, losing around $100,000 over that time, the owners accused Frederick and Steven of having a sexual relationship with one of the dealers (who was known as Big Cindy), and using signals to help them win. It's bizarre, because, the motivation for that fiction is unclear. The Barthelme's weren't stealing their money, they were giving them tons of it. They had been going for over a year and showed no signs of quitting. Why would the casino want to get rid of people who were presumably their best customers? Did someone just get bored one day and construct a basically unrealistic conspiracy?

02 June 2009

what's next?

Capricorn One

I saw Capricorn One in the van on the way from some British town to another, and then I forgot about it, and now I am blogging about it, begrudgingly.


You would think that a movie about a stage Mars mission by NASA starring Elliott Gould and OJ Simpson would be amazing, but unfortunately is pretty boring. It's a decent conspiracy theory, but it doesn't do much to make the form unique to its particular story. Basically a mad genius NASA scientist realizes that the Mars mission won't work, so he blackmails his astronauts into staging the mission, and then has to keep them from revealing the secret when their conscience gets to them. Elliott Gould is an archetypal investigative reporter, close to losing his job, pursuing a tip and the mysterious death of a friend who worked at NASA while his life falls apart.


OJ Simpson has like two lines, and I'm pretty sure they're problematic.


I watched a few episodes of X-Files when I was a kid, but as I've said before, this space shit just doesn't really interest me.