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Parkland is an odd
but interesting little movie that chronicles the sideline events surrounding
the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963. Its
interest in the periphery of the Big Story is what makes it unusual and, at times,
unsettling, but the filmmakers believe that we already know the obvious. What we don’t know is what it
was like to be in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital in the early
afternoon of November 22, or how a well-meaning garment manufacturer named Abraham
Zapruder was affected by the home-movie footage he shot at Dealey Plaza that
day. Journalist turned writer-director Peter Landesman shines a light in the
corners of one of the past century’s most stunning events; whether you care to
see what is revealed is up to you. The material is drawn from Vincent
Bugliosi’s book Four Days in November:
The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

As someone who clearly remembers that afternoon and the days
that followed (I was 12 years old at the time) I was drawn to all of this
detail: the chaos and confusion, the finger-pointing at the local FBI office, squabbling
over jurisdiction by various law enforcement agencies, and the uncertainty over
how to deal with mundane necessities like securing a coffin and boarding it on
Air Force One.

The costuming, makeup, and production design are impeccable,
and remind us how severe and formal ordinary people looked some fifty years
ago. And the film offers juicy roles to a number of talented actors including
Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeremy Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Ron
Livingston, James Badge Dale, Colin Hanks, Jacki Weaver, and Zac Efron.

To some viewers remaining on the fringes, without ever
tackling the heart of the matter, may be off-putting, but I found Parkland consistently intriguing, if
relentlessly downbeat. 



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