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One of Conner's dazzling found-footage assemblies, REPORT anticipates Stone's JFK by twenty-four years. While not as sheerly astounding as Conner's A MOVIE (the real inspiration for such Stonean Cuisin-Art as NATURAL BORN KILLERS), this mix of JFK-assassination audio, Jack Ruby stock footage, and plentiful pitch blackness is plenty weird, and is sure to chill the blood of high-school history-class kids encountering it in some highbrow museum somewhere.
Bruce Conner's "Report" is a cinematic relic, one that compiles archive
footage of subpar quality but turns it into a beautiful showcase of
hellish emotion and grief. The thirteen minute short takes very poorly
preserved archive footage showing the events of November 22, 1963 when
President John F. Kennedy rode through downtown Dallas, Texas with a
parade, unknowingly bound to meet his gruesome fate, and adds clear
audio of news reports describing a chaotic scene in Dallas after the
president was shot. After about six to seven minutes of hearing this
audio, we listen in on audio that gives us an idea of the events that
preceded the horror, with reports talking about John and his wife
Jackie Kennedy, their outfits, and the parade route, showing how
everybody but one person knew what would happen to John F. Kennedy that
day. "Report" is fascinating because through its technical
imperfections (this is not a criticism) it creates a shivering account
of that day, sure to strike the biggest cord with people who were alive
when Kennedy was killed and remember where they were that faithful day.
I was reminded of the feeling I get when I curiously search news
reports of recent tragedies like the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting,
the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, or even the September 11,
2001 terrorist attacks, or even simply recall where I was when I first
heard about the events. When viewing things like this, it's almost as
if your body goes into shock, unable to process all the emotions you're
currently feeling. A deep feeling of sadness looms over you like
storm-clouds rolling in. Even preparing for the downpour doesn't help
much because it truly can't predict the real reaction and the real wave
of sadness and disgust. Conner's "Report" is a beautifully made piece
of film that inherently provides difficult emotions but a whirlwind of
history up close.
Directed by: Bruce Conner.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie gem with some older film freaks like myself. They
all remember where they were on the day Kennedy was shot. I can't
remember, I wasn't born yet.
On the end of the 20th century, I received a book about the best movies ever made. 'Report' was in that list. Since then I looked everywhere but I've never seen it until today, and I'm really unhappy because my expectations were too high.
During the nine years I searched for this short film, I saw many pictures about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I saw Oliver Stone's 'JFK', 'The Jim Garrison Tapes' and so on. And every time I saw one, I said to myself 'this film is really good, but Bruce Conner's 'Report' will top them all'.
That's why now I'm disillusioned. We see the same pictures over and over again and that irritating black screen we already knew from 'Blonde Cobra', we witness here again. Flashing images destroy every bit of interest in what happened to JFK that day.
The only thing I admire in this film, is the soundtrack. It's like somebody tells us what happens, even though we almost can't see anything. It's really stupid, because I believed this film would be heaven on earth for me. Instead, I think it's not worth our attention. If you want to know something about the assassination, use the Internet, or watch 'JFK' with a superb performance by Kevin Costner.
On the other hand, the older film lovers praised this short film, but I guess it's because Conner took them back in time, so they remember their youth more than the assassination. Don't let this fool you: 'Report' isn't worth much.
Of course lots of movies, documentaries and books have been made,
regarding the JFK assassination, so you would think that a 13 minutes,
artistic, short would add very little new but the movie in fact does an
amazing job and also works out original and refreshing, by telling
little and with showing even less.
It's not a documentary or a short that follows and tells a story. What the movie does is showing lots of random images, that aren't even all JFK related at all. But by doing so, the movie is recreating the right sort of feelings and emotions, that take you back to how it must had been that day, without showing anything involving the actual assassination. After all, the Zapruder film wasn't made public yet, so even if they wanted to show the actual assassination, they just simply couldn't.
The images shown trigger all kinds of emotions and they are supported with audio clips of life radio broadcasts, that reported on the assassination. The images show despair, chaos, hope, by using old archive footage and footage from actual movies, that mostly aren't JFK related. It nevertheless seems to fit the subject so very well and takes you really back to November 22, 1963.
It doesn't seem to me like the movie is raising any questions, or is trying to look for a deeper meaning to the assassination, like all conspiracy theory people love to do but that doesn't mean that the movie itself isn't a provoking one. The images and audio really tell you everything to let you feel how things must had been like on November 22, 1963, without really telling you a narrative story or show anything of the actual assassination of John F. Kennedy. This makes this short a real accomplishment by Bruce Conner, that above all things really works out well, with what it is trying to achieve.
'Report' is an eerily affecting associative film that contains no original
footage--it was entirely made at the editing table. Conner recreates within
viewers the feeling of having been at JFK's assassination--among other
things, he loops the same few seconds of actual Kennedy footage with the
running commentary of radio announcers--you can feel the confusion, and it
triggers that desire to SEE the President, or anything--a very human
response to tragedy, and what America must have felt--by the fifth minute of
straight black, strobing black and white, and seemingly endless uncompleted
countdowns of the Academy leader. But not even the reporters being heard can
see what is happening.
The film is laden with images of death and draws comparison between the absolute shock at the assassination, and the death motif of the images and descriptions preceeding--Kennedy rides by in his 'gunmetal grey' limousine, the police fight back adoring school children to the footage of World War I warfare.
'Report' undermines our faith in the image and its ability to deliver truth and meaning--the two exact things that the country has been searching for since Kennedy's death. We still ask 'what really happened?' and 'why?', and we still have no answers. It is a film about loss, an ironic juxtaposition of images that at first may seem random, but in the end makes for a uniquely powerful experience.
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