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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Front row seat to US history: "Too much, too ugly, too fast"
"Parkland" (2013 release; 93 min.) brings the story of the events surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The movie doesn't waste any time and in the initial scenes we get to briefly meet the various players who'd become intimately involved in the events of that day: the Secret Service guys, the FBI guys, the accidental witnesses to the...
Published 9 months ago by Paul Allaer

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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Fall of Lancer
"Parkland," released shortly in advance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK (whose White House codename was "Lancer"), is a depiction of the events in Dallas surrounding the shooting, based upon Vincent Bugliosi's book "Four Days In November." That book was in turn taken from the factual background portion of Bugliosi's much longer book that argued Lee...
Published 9 months ago by JEP


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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Front row seat to US history: "Too much, too ugly, too fast", October 8, 2013
This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
"Parkland" (2013 release; 93 min.) brings the story of the events surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The movie doesn't waste any time and in the initial scenes we get to briefly meet the various players who'd become intimately involved in the events of that day: the Secret Service guys, the FBI guys, the accidental witnesses to the assassination, the doctors and nurses at Parkland Memorial Hospital, and of course the President and his immediate entourage. The initial 15 min. or so of the movie make ample use of the archive footage that exists from JFK's visit to Forth Worth and Dallas. After being shot, the President is taken to Parkland, where a young doctor (played by Zac Efron) at first is overwhelmed with the task at hand, and then gives his all in trying to save the President's life. A couple of major story lines eventually emerge: Abraham Zapruder (played by Paul Giamatti) films the entire sequence of events with his new 8 mm camera, and quickly gets inundated by the media to get that footage; even more interesting for me is the story line involving Robert Oswald, brother of Lee Harvey, dealing with the fall-out of being associated with/family of the killer of the US President.

Couple of comments: next month marks the 50th commemoration of JFK's assassination and while we all know pretty much what happens, this movie does shed some interesting perspectives on what happened immediately after the assassination, including at Parkland. Other than the (sporadic) scenes with Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti or Billy Bob Thornton (as the head of the Dallas Secret Service), the cast is made up of unknowns (for me anyway), and that plays out very well as it gives a more authentic feel to the movie. The use of the historic footage adds as well (at some point, one of the TV reporters (Sam Donaldson perhaps?) sums up that fateful day as "too much, too ugly, and too fast" and how true that is. It may very well be that America lost its innocence that day.

Imagine my surprise when out of the blue and without any pre-release hype or advertising this movie showed up this week at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati. I figure this will not play very long and went to see it right away. The screening I saw this at tonight was not very well attended (all of 3 people, including myself), so that is not a good sign, which is a shame as I think this movie deserves an audience. Bottom line: if you are one of those who still is interested in the terrible events that took place in Dallas in late November, 1963, I would encourage you to check out "Parkland", be it in the theatre or on DVD/Blu-ray.
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Fall of Lancer, October 9, 2013
By 
JEP (Issaquah, Washington United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
"Parkland," released shortly in advance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK (whose White House codename was "Lancer"), is a depiction of the events in Dallas surrounding the shooting, based upon Vincent Bugliosi's book "Four Days In November." That book was in turn taken from the factual background portion of Bugliosi's much longer book that argued Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination. So going in, this is a work that is based on the known facts of the assassination, without getting into any of the conspiracy theories. (If you want to see a movie drenched in that topic, watch Oliver Stone's "JFK" instead). Leaving aside "JFK" and the various TV documentaries and miniseries, I don't think there has been a straightforward major movie depiction of the events in Dallas like this before. While movie critics have not been enthusiastic about "Parkland," I thought that it was very good, even if there are portions of it that could have been better.

The movie is mainly focused on some of the surrounding characters, such as the doctors and staff at Parkland hospital in Dallas (where both JFK and Oswald were taken after being shot), Abraham Zapruder (who famously filmed the shooting of JFK), Forrest Sorrels (the local secret service agent in Dallas), and Oswald's brother and mother. For the most part, the actors all do a very good job and the film is well done, with some historical TV clips included to help move the narrative along and set the proper context. Billy Bob Thornton, as Forrest Sorrels, and the actor portraying Oswald's brother Robert in particular turn in fine performances. The director included some nice visuals, such as the scene in which the Zapruder film reflects in the glasses of one of those watching the initial screening of the film, rather than showing it directly. The movie also captures the deep sense of grief and sadness many experienced following JFK's death.

The main complaint of many of the critical reviews that I have read is that the movie is somewhat scattered and unfocused. I had read "Four Days in November" a couple of years ago, and also recently read William Manchester's "The Death of a President," the large and well known book commissioned by the Kennedy family about the assassination. While most people probably know the basic facts of the assassination, I found that was it helpful to have recently read about the events in order to keep up with the quickly moving story. I would say, however, that especially compared to Manchester's sprawling account of the same events, which covers the reactions of a huge number of Kennedy family members, associates, and friends, "Parkland" actually seems fairly narrow and focused. The reality is that a large number of people were involved in the main events, so virtually any depiction of the events as a whole is going to have to address that fact. The introductory minutes of the movie probably contribute to the critics' complaints, as the movie has barely gotten started before the President is already riding through downtown Dallas and Zapruder is filming the shooting. A little more introduction and set up would have been helpful and avoided the rushed feeling at the start, and there actually is some interesting background about why the trip to Dallas was even necessary that could have been expanded upon. The actor playing Lee Harvey Oswald is pretty effective in a surprisingly limited number of scenes in the movie, and some of his known actions right before the shooting (and after) could have also been included. With the movie running only about 90 minutes, it easily could have been expanded for those items.

The other often cited complaints of the critics relate to the casting of Zac Efron as one of the Parkland doctors and the over the top characterization of Oswald's mother. I agree Efron was probably not the best choice for the role, but he certainly provides a determined and appropriately somber effort in his role. As to Oswald's mother, from the accounts that I have read, she in fact was pretty much as depicted here and really made many of the outrageous claims and comments used in the movie, so I don't think the movie should be faulted for that.

Similarly, some critics have complained about the passage where Billy Bob Thornton, as agent Forrest Sorrels, says "this was not supposed to happen." Sure, it sounds trite, but Manchester's book makes clear that virtually all of the Kennedy administration went into deep grief and shock in the days after the assassination, and many said and did odd things in the aftermath. "This was not supposed to happen" is of course not an eloquent statement, but it is probably the kind of thing that was actually being said by the agents at the time.

Overall, despite the critical reviews, I thought the movie was very well done, if a little overly compressed. (I would give it 3 and one-half stars if possible). Maybe someday there will be an extended director's cut available, which I think would be more effective.
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61 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Drama Recreating The JFK Assassination Immediate Aftermath, October 5, 2013
This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
Having recently watched a small handful of documentaries recounting the known facts and some of the ardent speculation relating to the JFK assassination, I went into Parkland not really knowing what to expect, but I was mostly pleased with the film's dedication to depicting most of the known facts in a non-political fashion. Being familiar with some of the facts, I can say that, largely, they do a pretty solid job, though the take some modest liberties in order to present some moments a bit more dramatically for a theatrical audience; still these are small details that don't amount to historical revisionism so much as they are creative choices -- when you only have two hours to explore the details, you do have some limitations. If anything, I'd have to say some of the portrayals may've been a bit too dry (Billy Bob has only a handful of scenes, and its hard to sense any real grounding for his character, though he has one nice shouting moment that underscores an intense dedication to duty and service). If anything, Parkland will make you long for investigating these events even more, as the limitations of a theatrical release do hold the story back in some aspects. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parkland, October 29, 2013
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A very emotional and historic film. Tom Hanks films
are amazing. Excellent acting makes one feel the experience
is very realistic. Surprising real time sound and time of
event is unsettling emotionally. Best movie about this subject.
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61 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely moving. Powerful., September 26, 2013
This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
I was fortunate to see a screening of Parkland before its release and found it an extremely moving motion picture about the chaos at Parkland hospital the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Since this event was especially tragic to my generation, be prepared for the emotion and drama of this movie. It is powerful!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Parkland' - An Emotional Memory Of A National Tragedy, November 10, 2013
'Parkland' is an amazing film, particularly considering it was the creation of a first-time writer-director, Peter Landesman (based on Vincent Bugliosi's book, `Four Days In November'; the size of which nearly rivaled the Affordable Health Care act) and then to be ultimately made on such a small budget and shot in 24 days. Landesman has said that every American has a version of this movie in their head. "Parkland' definitely takes us into the heads of some of the most prominently involved, if not publically known, individuals.

I was 20 when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was America's first brush with a tragedy of this sort playing out on our TV screens instantaneously and for many subsequent days in, for those days, an unprecedented television event, although now an exercise repeated too often for good taste. America and Americans were much more innocent in that era and technology was limited and somewhat still in its pioneer days. For the 10 years following the assassination I purchased and read anything printed about the tragedy. To say I was familiar with the details would be stating it mildly. Following that decade of close study of the circumstances surrounding Kennedy's death, I moved on with my life. When new information or re-hashes of old information were in the newspapers, it barely made a blip on my news radar or my emotional scale. Thus, I did not expect to be affected by 'Parkland' to any great emotional degree.

`Parkland', with the cast, the directing, the script, and the sets combined, was able to take me back completely to, not just those three days, but individual minutes of those days; where I was, what I felt, who I was with, and how that weekend unfolded. The film accomplished this in such an enveloping way that I was shocked at my own reaction.

The intent, as stated by Landesman, was to present the story in compressed time and to focus on the doctors who treated President Kennedy and on those individuals in charge of Kennedy's safety, as well as Mr. Zapruder, who I saw in this film as sort of an everyman. 'Parkland' reminds us as well of many aspects of the events that will never be repeated should such a tragedy ever occur in America in the future. Life has changed, government is very different, society has evolved in a not particularly positive manner, and individuals today are, sadly, not what we were then. America has changed and it is sad.

From the moment you hear the severely traumatized Abraham Zapruder repeatedly screaming, 'they've hilled him', whether you experienced the incident on TV as an adult or whether you barely know who John F. Kennedy is, you are emotionally involved in this awful day and the events which closely followed. 'Parkland', while not glamorizing or exploiting the actual physical details of the assassination, locks us instead inside a very small room where we never were; the Emergency Room of a busy hospital, with rookie doctors, more seasoned nurses, and many, many individuals under extreme duress. Today there would be at least one newsman and cameraman as a pool media person to document for the public what Americans had not before witnessed. You see the vision of the very real crushing impact that the loss of 'their man', President Kennedy' had on his Secret Service agents and the feats they accomplished, spurred on by their intense dedication for the very loved, very special individual under their protection. Zapruder's personal response to the killing of 'his' president is depicted closely and directly symbolizes to the viewer the reaction of regular Americans to such a shocking loss.

Each member of the low-waged cast gave us one of their best performances. Particularly the following three: Billy Bob Thornton, as Forrest Sorrels, head of the Dallas Secret Service Office, gave a steady, understated, thoroughly believable performance. He portrayed a man in Sorrel's position perfectly, depicting him professionally doing his job while containing his emotions and yet managing to fully display his deep feelings simultaneously. I expected nothing less from Thornton, a brilliant actor who never disappoints and always shows us full blown characters, each perfectly nuanced in every detail, regardless of the size of the role, including, in this instance of Sorrels the small, but impactful, body language, subtly conveying a man suddenly carrying the weight of the world; Zac Efron thoroughly nailed the young doctor, Charles 'Jim' Carrico, a new E.R. physician who was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into working desperately to save the most important patient ever to present for his care, a patient who was already unfortunately lost. The strain of the realization of what was happening under his hands was provocatively present on Efron's face, in his eyes, and through his body language; Abraham Zapruder, the only one of these three main characters that most of the public has actually seen, was depicted through the spot-on performance of consummate actor, Paul Giamatti. Mr. Zapruder was never the same after that day and died at relatively a young age, likely due to the strain of the incident and the impact the loss of President Kenney, whom he so greatly admired. Giamatti never missed a beat in sharing the instant changing impact the tragedy had upon Zapruder at once. Giamatti's reenactment of Zapruder's plaintive cries immediately following the assassination were utterly and stunningly chilling and a perfect representation by one man of the sound the entire country was vocalizing individually at that very moment. Marcia Gay Harden and Ron Livingston, as well as every member of the cast, also gave amazingly strong performances for this film.

`Parkland' regardless of the constraints under which it was filmed, is a must-see movie. The fact that it went apparently straight to DVD was a rude surprise and a shame really. A larger audience should be seeing this film. I recommend it for every teen and adult in the country, regardless of their age at the time of the event, their political leaning, their interest in history as a broad subject, or of any other factor, and instead just because this is a very real, very authentic depiction of an American tragedy that warrants a look 50 years beyond what could be, at least until 09/11, considered America's worst nightmare.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JFK Assassination, October 29, 2013
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This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
This film is historically accurate. Some of the scenes are quite emotional. Very good actors. If you are interested at all in this moment in American history, you should be pleased with this film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of news., November 26, 2013
By 
The Shadow (HOUSTON, TX. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parkland (Amazon Instant Video)
The day I ran home from school crying and didn't even know why. The day news stopped being news in favor of sensationalism. Even though there are far more free people in this country than their were at that time we have lost something we can never retrieve, our innocence. That was the day news became entertainment and since then it has went down hill to the point that it can't be trusted. You may say I missed the point of the film and maybe so but that film that everyone had to get their hands on was the beginning of the end for factual news in this country. Whether this helps or not this was a hard movie for me to watch. The anger it brought out in me led to this. That it is how the movie mad me feel in between tears. To me a movie like this is about how it makes you feel and the emotions it brings forward. So in my opinion the acting and direction of this movie made me feel as though I was there and I don't know how you can do better than that 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abraham Zapruder: "Oh my God! They killed him!", November 23, 2013
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This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
PLOT POINTS REVEALED!

.
PARKLAND (2013) is an inside look at the JFK assassination that shows scenes and examines lives never before represented in a motion picture. It opens mere minutes before the Kennedy limo turns onto Elm St. We see Abe Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) and his secretary cross the street to a platform near the grassy knoll. Abe's viewpoint was 30 yards distant from where the kill shot got JFK. He was a wreck from this traumatic experience and never fully recovered. Referring to JFK, Zapruder told a persistent newspaperman that "his head just flew to pieces."

Soon after, Zapruder's surrounded by agents, including the chief of Dallas Secret Service (Billy Bob Thornton) who flat out demands the film in his 8mm Bell & Howell camera, Instead, Abe and several agents went from lab to TV station trying to find someone to develop the film.

Meanwhile, the dark blue limo has arrived at Parkland at 12:45 pm, five minutes after the shooting. We see JFK placed on a stretcher and whyeeled into an emergency room that immediately was overcrowded with doctors, nurses and JFK's entourage. Every step of their fruitless efforts to keep him alive is shown. Jackie wandewrs in, totally spattered with blood. She hands head nurse Marcia Gay Harden something. We're told it's a piece of skull and brains. Jackie moves to a corner, kneels and prays as last ditch heart massage is about to fail. The nurse goes to her locker and retrieves a large wooden crucifix. She hands it to Father Huber, who's administering last rites on the president's remains. He lays the cross on the chest. Later, after the interior of Air Force One is torn away to accomodate JFK's bronze casket, this crucifix is placed on it.

The detail throughout is just remarkable.

Perhaps the weirdest story is that of the Oswald family, brother Robert (James Badge Dale) and Lee's mom, Marguerite (Jacki Weaver). The old woman is clearly deranged, and not by this accusation against her son. Repeatedly she claims he's a CIA agent, when not demanding a payoff from LIFE magazine for her inside story. Robert is appalled, convinced his arrogant younger brother killed "the most important man in the world." He's abused by Dallas cops, told to leave town and change his name, and generally despised as much as Lee.

On Sunday morning, an official arrives at the Oswald home to inform them that Lee's been shot, but he's gonna be OK. Then a call comes in: JFK's accused killer is dead. Marguerite's reaction is incredible. She says, "My son is a hero, a government agent. They should bury him at Arlington alongside the president."

We also learn of Dallas-based FBI agent James Hosty (Ron Livingston). He'd been tracking Oswald's activities for months, something Hosty's boss was unaware of. After they hear that Oswald's been arrested and is prime suspect in the assassination, Hosty is questioned about an incident that occurred just 10 days earlier. Oswald had stopped by CIA headquarters to both complain that Hosty was speaking to his wife and to threaten he'd blow the place up if these conversations continued. Hosty's boss explodes in anger, for this threat on a Federal facility, real or idle, was a felony and Oswald should've been immediately taken into custody for making it. If Hosty wants to save his job, he's ordered to burn his Oswald file. He does as he's told.

There is so much more I haven't mentioned.
If you're at all interested in this historic American tragedy, PARKLAND is an absolute must-see.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subdued and dignified, November 23, 2013
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This review is from: Parkland (DVD)
This was an excellent film - restrained, dignified, thoughtful. It reminded me of the way things once were...until that day when it all seemed to change and shift and turn into something altogether different.
Bravo to the producers and the cast for not getting carried away with the anniversary in some tawdry way - but rather commemorating the day with a fine film that doesn't veer into sensationalism.
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Parkland
Parkland by Peter Landesman (DVD - 2013)
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