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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Interview with the Assassin (2002), directed by Neil Burger

Interview with the Assassin -

If you aren't already interested in the assassination of JFK, my advice is, don't -- don't go there. The crap you'd have to put up with just isn't worth it. I can tell you that I watched this movie for three reasons -- I had a small block of time to fill and, at 85 minutes, this movie fit the bill; I wanted to check in with the found/raw footage genre; and I am interested in the assassination -- but the truth is, if it weren't for that last reason, I never would have turned this thing on. This gets one star because I can't imagine a single person on this planet that I would recommend it to.

There was probably a point when this film had potential. It would have been back when writer-director Neil Burger thought, Wouldn't it be cool to do a documentary about a guy claiming to have been a grassy knoll gunman? But that thought may never have occurred to Mr. Burger, so I can't be sure. He may have thought, Wouldn't it be cool to cash in on the JFK assassination? instead. And if that's the way it happened, well, it's rather nice to report that he seems to have lost about a million dollars on the deal. That's an interesting number, because the budget was a million dollars. This thing returned only 50 grand.

As it turns out, Interview with the Assassin, isn't even about the assassination of JFK. It's about the loony-tunes neighbor of an out-of-work cameraman. Walter Ohlinger is the neighbor's name, and he claims to have been a shooter stationed on the grassy knoll on November 22, 1963. It was his bullet, he says, that struck Kennedy in the head. Problem is, he has no proof. Can we get proof? wonders Ron, the addled cameraman. And so starts a ridiculous journey across the country as Ron and Walter track down former friends of Walter's who may be able to corroborate his story. And if that doesn't work, Walter's got one more trick up his sleeve: proving that, at least, he can get himself in position to assassinate a president, the current President.

During the journey, Ron becomes a criminal himself many times over: he buys weapons for Walter, he witnesses Walter's assault on a police officer and doesn't turn him in, and so on. We're supposed to believe that Ron is just that desperate, but the idea that he is just that stupid is too obvious to ignore.

All of this is filmed, in Blair Witch documentary style, by Ron, and of course it looks simply awful. I shudder to think of the "documentary" Ron hoped to produce from his lousy footage. Nor is it believable. But worse still is that it isn't only the "raw footage" aspect of the film that shows that Burger is pursuing the path of least resistance, for early on we realize that research and imagination are anathema to him. Ron simply follows Walter wherever he leads and buys into his stories without even a tabloid reporter's respect for facts. And that's on Burger, who clearly didn't want to produce anything we could possibly take seriously.

Crap, however, serves a purpose -- so take heart all you SPAs and indie authors who haven't quite made it yet. The same guy who directed this worthless film has a movie out right now, and it's called Divergent.