Sunday, October 06, 2013

"Parkland": a somewhat literal account of the JFK assassination in Dallas in 1963

The American Film Company has produced an admirable chronicle of the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 2013, “Parkland”, told in large part from the viewpoint of medical staff at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where both JFK and later Lee Harvey Oswald were taken and both died.  The rendition is fairly straightforward, with no indulgence in conspiracy theories like those in Jesse Ventura’s book, or in the History Channel series a few years ago, “The Men Who Killed Kennedy”.
Though having many established stars, this is a relatively small film given that the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy comes up soon.

The, directed by Peter Landesman, is based on a chapter ("Four Days in November") of a book by Vincent Bugliosi "The Assassination of John F. Kennedy".  
Zac Efron is appealing as Dr. Jim Carrico, and he certainly gets bloodied himself in the O.R.  Tom Welling (Clark Kent in “Smallville”) plays Roy Kellerman, JFK’s bodyguard Billy Bob Thornton is Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels, who is so much in character as he acquires the new 8-mm film from Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti). 
Jacki Weaver plays Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey’s mother, who is a bit of a character who does seem to want to exploit the notoriety of what happened, to the consternation of the brother Robert (James Badge Dale), who has to deal with pressure that the lives of the grandkids and indeed the whole family is ruined for what one person did – that they need to change their names and leave Dallas and never come back. That was typical thinking in 1963.
The look of the time is valid – the typewriters, the pre-high-tech, the cigarette smoking, the clutter.  Parkland Hospital is on Harry Hines, not far from the Oak Lawn neighborhood where I lived for some of the 1980’s. 
The was not a good time for me.  I was in my first job, at the National Bureau of Standards, when I heard about the shooting from my boss, and I heard Walter Cronkite’s announcement over the radio at 2 PM EST.  I remember the bus rides home in Arlington, where I lived with my parents still (I was 20 and going to GWU part time after a lot of turmoil over my expulsion from William and Mary over “latent homosexuality”) and I remember wondering if a nuclear attack could happen.  The Cuban Missile Crisis had happened a year before.
Exckusive Media, the distributor, seems to be relatively new.   The official site is here

I saw this film at the Angelika Mosaic on a Sunday afternoon before a moderate crowd.

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