Volume 94, Issue 63
Tuesday, January 16, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
'62 Cuban Crisis revisited - 13 Days a rivetting political drama
Photo by Ben Glass
IF WHAT THESE DOCUMENTS SAY IS ACCURATE, I REALLY AM A SHITTY ACTOR. Kevin Costner examines his contract to see if it requires him to actually be good in his latest film, Thirteen Days.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp
Directed By: Roger Donaldson
By Sean Maraj
Documentaries tell a version of history; movies tell a story about history. That's an important division for Thirteen Days.
Thirteen Days takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Kennedy administration during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The incident marked one of the most dangerous moments of the Cold War, in what turned out to be a disturbing game of chicken between the United States and the Soviet Union, two superpowers on the verge of nuclear war. Saving their country, and perhaps the world from complete destruction, was one of the crowning achievements of the short-lived Kennedy administration.
From the opening scene, a U2 spyplane takes the first pictures of Soviet missiles in Cuba, to the final closed-door meeting between Robert Kennedy and a Soviet ambassador, Thirteen Days shows the ups and downs of decision-makers trying to deal with a situation rapidly spiralling out of control.
Despite his lacklustre New England accent, Kevin Costner does a solid job as Kenny O'Donnell, special assistant to the president. Throughout the movie, he's often nothing more than an observer, watching as the John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert deal with the quickly changing situation.
The finest acting of the movie comes from Canadian Bruce Greenwood, who has the unenviable task of playing JFK. Greenwood does an excellent job, capturing the former president right down to his grimaces of back pain. By the end of the movie, its easy to believe Greenwood as the man himself. Steven Culp also does an admirable job of playing the younger Kennedy as a smart, savvy politician who was always protective of his older brother.
Thirteen Days does a stylistically perfect job of depicting the scenes behind the crisis; especially noticeable is the shift from black and white to colour whenever the crisis takes a new turn. The greatest strength of the movie comes in its ability to encapsulate various and often conflicting elements of the situation.
This can be seen in O'Donnell, who watches the decision-makers while concerned about his family's welfare. There is JFK having to overcome his own insecurities, dealing with generals who don't believe in him and who seem to undermind him at every turn. There is also a nervous RFK who walks into the meeting to come to the final agreement with the Soviets. All of this is put on screen, giving the movie a heart that a documentary could never hope to achieve.
Thirteen Days is much more than a documentary about the Cuban Missile Crisis. At its core, this movie isn't so much about historical fact, as much as men dealing with and trying to get through an incredible situation, while battling the most human of problems.
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