For those who still harbor suspicions over what really happened on that portentous day in Dallas—November 22, 1963—Oliver Stone’s JFK remains a definitive document. The 1991 film captured, if not the precise outlines of some universally agreed-upon conspiracy, then at least the operatic sweep of those still-lingering feelings of shock, anger, and suspicion. By drawing on the various theories collected by, among others, Jim Marrs, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter and JFK-assassination expert, Stone created a veritable phantasmagoria of Cold War paranoia, one that mixed exacting historical detail—including a re-creation of Kennedy’s motorcade staged right there in Dealey Plaza—with unabashed poetic license, drawing on shadowy speculation, imagined conversations, and composite characters to craft a compelling story of wide-ranging collusion at the highest levels of government. Stone made no bones about its various liberties, famously proposing his version as a “counter-myth” to the more official story that was propagated by the Warren Commission, which named Lee Harvey Oswald as President John F. Kennedy’s lone assassin. Some critics were far more blunt, labeling JFK a dangerous fabrication.
Thirty years later, Oliver Stone remains an ardent defender of his film and its central arguments (sometimes even responding, at unsparing length, to any random goofball who dares question it). His latest salvo in that ongoing crusade is JFK: Destiny Betrayed, a documentary that will essentially pick up where the first film left off—both in content and in controversy. As Stone told The New York Times last year, the new film presents an updated “accretion of detail” that is based, in part, on documents that were finally declassified in 2017, thanks to a decades-old congressional order inspired by JFK and its cultural impact. But as Stone explained this week to fellow filmmaker Spike Lee during a conversation for Variety, he’s having trouble finding a distributor who will take it on. Both National Geographic and Netflix have already turned the film down, citing its questionable fact-checking.
“Where are you going to find this information except in this film?” Stone asked Lee, rhetorically. “If they do a fact check, according to conventional sources, of course it’ll come out like this is not true.” That catch-22 means JFK: Destiny Betrayed is currently scheduled to premiere at this year’s postponed Cannes Film Festival in July—but “not for the American side of it,” Stone explained. “That’s a big step for us because, at least, if it can’t be recognized in America as a document, it will be recognized in the end by international people. And that’s important.” Nevertheless, where it will go from there is anyone’s guess, as is how seriously it will be received.
In a statement, Stone said that JFK: Destiny Betrayed “represents an important bookend to my 1991 film. It ties up many loose threads, and hopefully repudiates much of the ignorance around the case and the movie.” As such, he’s committed to putting it out somewhere—“even if it’s on YouTube. Or in Transylvania,” as he told the Times. Stone insists that his new film “makes the case harder, tighter,” as he said to Lee, presenting “real facts that are shocking to people,” and that it’s all but impossible to come away from it unconvinced. Still, unless that case is being presented by Kevin Costner, it seems like most people probably won’t ever hear it.
Five More GameStop Films Are On the Way
There is no shadowy, JFK-style conspiracy behind the recent frenzy surrounding GameStop—just an overt, entirely legal scheme to exploit the rigged system that is the U.S. stock market. Nevertheless, the unlikely, still-unfolding saga centered on the Texas-based retail chain is being touted as a similarly pivotal moment in American history—and it’s already generated almost as many movie pitches. In fact, at least five more joined the pile this week, with the already-announced projects from Netflix and MGM being joined by a feature film at HBO, a documentary from Console Wars director Jonah Tulis, another documentary from directors Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci, and another documentary series at Netflix from Oscar-winning filmmakers Dan Cogan and Liz Garbus. Meanwhile, Jaime and Joel Rogozinski—the men behind Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets and the architects of the buying frenzy—sold their life story rights to Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment for yet another movie adaptation.
As of press time, that marks seven GameStop-related projects in development, all of them competing to be the first to tell the exact same David-versus-Goliath story about scrappy online rebels taking on the hedge fund vultures, with the Grapevine company caught somewhere in the crossfire (and, it must be said, not seeing much in return beyond notoriety). Now, if only there were a way to do a short sell on which of those projects will actually see the light of day.
Pedro Pascal to Lead HBO’s The Last of Us
If enough people had just purchased copies of Sony PlayStation’s The Last of Us from GameStop, perhaps the entire structure of U.S. capitalism wouldn’t have had to be thrown into chaos. But alas, most video games these days are downloaded, meaning it’s far too late for the chain to profit from any boost it is likely to receive from the game’s upcoming HBO series adaptation. Not so for Pedro Pascal. The Mandalorian star—who spent his childhood in San Antonio, which makes him Texan enough for our purposes—is right on time to cash in with his just-announced lead role in the series, which won’t even require hiding behind a mask. Deadline reports that Pascal will play the game’s protagonist Joel, a tormented man who’s tasked with squiring a 14-year-old girl across a violent America that’s been turned completely upside down by a pandemic. The show is expected to premiere by early 2022, when its premise will hopefully once again seem like pessimistic fantasy.
Renée Zellweger Is Headed to Television
Fresh off her Oscar-winning performance in Judy, Renée Zellweger is following the career playbook of her erstwhile Texas Chainsaw Massacre costar Matthew McConaughey with a foray into prestige television. The Katy native will vie to punch another hole in her EGOT card with NBC’s The Thing About Pam, a limited series based on the still-unsolved murder of Missouri woman Betsy Faria. Zellweger is set to play Faria’s coworker, Pam Hupp, the woman suspected of killing Faria and framing Faria’s husband for the crime, then murdering another man to cover it up. Hupp’s twisty story—which includes the accusation that she also killed her own mother—has already served as the basis for five different Dateline NBC episodes, and it’s also the subject of one of iTunes’ most popular podcasts. In other words, there’s a considerable built-in audience for this story, along with the obvious interest in seeing Renée Zellweger take on her first starring role on broadcast TV. (Zellweger led the Netflix series What/If in 2019.) For once, she can probably even use her natural accent.
Sandra Bullock and Brad Pitt, Together at Last
In another, albeit arguably less-momentous first, Sandra Bullock is set to star opposite Brad Pitt in Sony’s upcoming Bullet Train, Deadline reports, a pairing seemingly decades in the making. Although both actors saw major career turning points in the year 1994—Bullock with Speed; Pitt in Interview with the Vampire—then went on to become two of Hollywood’s most bankable names, somehow they’ve never crossed paths on-screen, even as they’ve surely been paired off in scores of romantic-comedy pitches that both ultimately passed on. Bullet Train is based on Kotaro Isaka’s novel Maria Beetle, about a group of assassins who meet on the same express rail and discover they’re each tasked with missions that seem to overlap with one another, making them increasingly paranoid about who will make it out alive. (In Pitt terms, it’s a lot like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Plus Three Additional Smiths). It’s currently unknown whom either Pitt or Bullock will play in the large ensemble cast that already includes Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, and Zazie Beetz. Presumably they’ll play a couple of those aforementioned assassins, who get just a smidge more screen time than everyone else.
People Are Really Into Post Malone’s New Hair
As Tom Brady mechanically churned his way through yet another Super Bowl victory last weekend, bored and fidgety viewers were left to find other, increasingly desperate ways to amuse themselves—like getting horny over Post Malone’s hair, for instance. The Grapevine rapper’s recently debuted, closely cropped Caesar cut was out in full force for Malone’s latest ad for Bud Light, where he led a group of fellow “Bud Light Legends” like Cedric the Entertainer and the “I Love You, Man” Man in rescuing a stranded delivery driver. Reactions to the commercial were decidedly thirsty, albeit perhaps not in the way Bud Light intended: enough people tweeted about Post Malone looking “hot” that Elite Daily was moved to write a whole damn article about it. Anyway, far be it from me to kink-shame. Particularly as Malone’s just-announced “virtual concert” on Feb. 27 to celebrate Pokemon Day—in which he will find himself, haircut and tattoos and all, rendered as a blocky video game avatar—is sure to unlock a whole new onslaught of fetishizing.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
The weekend saw a slightly more mixed reaction to the debut of Matthew McConaughey’s own Super Bowl campaign for Doritos 3D, in which the Austin actor was reduced to a sad, two-dimensional version of himself, like a rolling paper bereft of anything to fill it. While some touted the ad as award-worthy (a knee-jerk reaction to any time McConaughey drops a bunch of weight), others found the visuals to be off-putting and creepy, “nightmare” fuel that further suffered from the pure implausibility of Matthew McConaughey ever sullying his body with a Dorito. Meanwhile, McConaughey spent Super Bowl Sunday inadvertently upsetting even more fans on his social media, where a video he posted of himself casually tossing a football to Brad Pitt back in 2014 came under fire by those who, unaware that the clip was nearly seven years old, were aghast that no one involved was wearing masks.
Fortunately, we can take heart in knowing that McConaughey likely didn’t even hear about it, because he was probably too busy driving. Matthew McConaughey loves to drive!
I love to drive. pic.twitter.com/Lck2CEEY3Q
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) February 10, 2021
Yessir, all your concerns and all your criticisms are just like whistles in the wind, amigo, whipping through the cracked window of McConaughey’s luxury automobile as it scoots down life’s glorious freeway, tape deck ablaze. There are no pit stops for self-pity. There are no exits for existential crises. Nothing and no one will trip us up along this road trip—not when the occupancy of this vehicle remains so very, very high. Where are we headed, you ask? The real question is where are our heads at, you dig? Because when McConaughey is in the driver’s seat, all the GPS says is Y-E-S. Buckle your bandanas and throw away your shirts. Because Matthew McConaughey loves to drive, and we’re all just along for the ride.