The sad fact surrounding an interview-style expose is that, ultimately, it’s all going to boil down to one central question: do you believe him? Of course, an interviewee can safeguard himself (or herself) by doing a fair share of preparation for the interview itself. With enough practice and memorization, the subject can essentially mount a wall of seeming impenetrability, preparing for every possible inquiry, prepping for any probably tangent. Despite what you might think personally, that ain’t as easy as it might seem because a good interviewer has also readied himself; undoubtedly, he might mix up his softball questions with the occasional fastball … or a slider … or something completely and utterly unexpected.
When you’re dealing with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, there’s an added layer of complexity that need be taken into account. As history reminds us, the Warren Commission rather erroneously concluded that the President’s death was the act of a lone gunman – a total nutbag prone to such behavior who went most of the time by the name Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the passage of time and the work of some stellar investigators, documentarians, and other assorted filmmakers has produced the effect of stripping away that least likely conclusion – that Oswald acted alone – and this brings us to where we are today: fifty years on, we still don’t know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth … but one confession might shed a little light from a different direction.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
I’ve heard about the ‘confession’ of James Files from a variety of different sources, but I’d yet to actually see any footage of any said interviews that had been conducted. I SHOT JFK sated my appetite: it’s a 90 minute presentation that, mostly, is this man speaking in his own words from a visitor’s cell in prison. He speaks clearly and confidently with absolutely no breaks, gaps, diversions, or hiccups in his recollections of that fateful day in November, 1963; and he even goes a bit further into the past with who he was, how he got there, and what happened afterward.
Now, I’m no learned scholar of interviews. Like most of you who are probably reading this review, all I can tell you is what my gut impression is and (hopefully) how I arrive at such conclusion. Will my take offer up a definitive reaction? Like so much of how we experience life, I can only tell you what my honest two cents are; as always, you’re free to agree, disagree, and/or tell me I’m an idiot. It’s happened before – being called an idiot – and I’ve no doubt it’ll happen again.
That said, I’m inclined to believe Files’ accounting of the Kennedy assassination. There may be some minor refashioned of some of the lesser events – age tends to have that effect on memory – but, for all intents and purposes, I’d still assume these ‘modifications’ are trivial. You kill a man … well, then I’d expect you to remember it. You shoot a President? Yes, I’d expect you to remember it like it was just yesterday. But does this answer all of the questions one might have about who and why did the event go down the way it did? Probably not; but as the others who could’ve shed even more light on those answers have passed away into the ether, this may be as close to an answer as we’ll ever get.
As a narrator to the events, Files convinces me that, if he didn’t tell all, he may not know more than what he divulges. Having done some reading into his story, I do know that there are others who dismiss him as an opportunist in the whole affair, and all I would ask of them (if they’re inclined to politely and professionally engage me in the chatbacks) is, “To what gain?” Anyone who steps forward to take credit for something of this magnitude would, I presume, have some agenda – be it profit, notoriety, or even absolution. Files seems interested in none of those. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even appear all that interested in setting the record straight. The only possible motivation I sense from all of this is that he wanted to confess to a man – Joe West – who had gained his trust, but, before he could, West died; and, after a time, Files decided to follow through with his original decision. What profit is there in that?
I will respectfully add this: if it is fiction, then it’s damn interesting fiction!
I SHOT JFK (2013) does not come with any specific production notations on the packaging, but I believe it’s produced by JFKmurdersolved.com and MVD Visual. DVD distribution is being handled through MVD Visual. As for the technical specifications, the picture looks and sounds about as well as any documentary covering the JFK assassination I’ve seen; there’s some modest graininess associated with some of the video surviving from the 60’s, and the 2.0 audio is about as good as you’re going to get in some cases (neither are a significant distraction as the lion’s share of the footage – the interview – is stellar). There are no special features.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If the assassination of John F. Kennedy interests you, then this is definitely worth a look. Mind you, it probably won’t answer all of the questions you have pertaining to the subject matter, but it’ll likely challenge you as it did me to think about whether or not you believe this incarcerated killer or not. As I’ve said, I’m inclined to give him a ‘nod.’
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MVD Visual (A Division of MVD Entertainment Group) provided me with a DVD copy of I SHOT JFK by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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