Dan O'Mahony, 24, a record distributor in Costa Mesa, expressed admiration for the film because "it keeps this sort of Big Brother concept in the foreground, because it's a very real thing. I don't think we understand 5% of what our government actually does or how they make their money. It's good to see artists coming out and stating that, somewhat defiantly."
At AMC's Century 14 Theater in Century City on Friday afternoon, the audience was almost exclusively people older than 30. But, Saturday afternoon at the same theater, in the midst of the last-weekend-before-Christmas shopping crowds, there was another practically sold-out showing to an audience that included a handful of children.
Among them was 8-year-old Jody Castro, a Los Angeles third grader. When asked if the movie had frightened him, he said, "No. I just thought of it like it was a mystery. I just felt that they were trying to figure out who murdered John F. Kennedy."
But 10-year-old Janelle Castro, Jody's sister, was disturbed by the movie. "It was a little scary. Before the movie, people just told me that Oswald killed him. But, after you see it, you have to believe something different."
The children's father, Joel Castro, an attorney, said that he had brought his children because "I wanted them to see what happened."
"If in fact Oliver Stone has done a factual scenario," he said, "then it is extremely disturbing, to say the least. It's certainly changed my opinion. I assumed the Warren Commission was accurate. The 'magic bullet' (the bullet said to have caused seven different wounds in Kennedy and Gov. John Connally) is unbelievable. You come away from a film like this feeling very ignorant, because you assume you knew everything there was from reading all the news accounts, and it turns out you really knew very little."
Contributing to this article were Times staff writer Michael Granberry in San Diego and free-lance writers Nancy Churnin in San Diego and Tom McQueeney in Orange County.