PARKLAND—-the JFK assassination tragedy will not relinquish its fascination grip on vox populi, and in this 2013 work from director-scenarist Peter Landesman, the focus is on the first three chaotic days after the shots, starting with the frantic efforts to save the mortally wounded President at the hospital in Dallas. With a swarm of characters, the familiar and the unsung, the script shies away from the conspiracy theory angles, and the 93 minutes has enough to cover with all the doctors, nurses, bystanders, law officers and witnesses.
Excellent cast: James Badge Dale (Oswald’s torn-up brother), Marcia Gay Harden ( the take charge head nurse), Zac Efron, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, Ron Livingstone, Jeremy Strong (a good pick as Lee), Jacki Weaver (great as Marguerite Oswald), Paul Giamatti (an anguished Abraham Zapruder), Jackie Earle Haley and David Harbour.
Reviews were mixed, applauding the performances, lukewarm on the narrative flow. It held me, even though I don’t agree (at all) with the ‘findings’ of the book it was based on.* It brought in a paltry $1,412,000, against a production cost of $10,000,000, which no doubt saddened Landesman, as this was his first directed feature. Music score by James Newton Howard.
* Vincent Bugliosi, who commands respect for his prosecution of Charles Manson, his book (“Helter Skelter”) on that event, and his ballsy condemnation of Punk Bush in “The Prosecution Of George W. Bush For Murder” somehow accepts the Warren Commission findings in his 1612-page opus “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy”. Sorry, Vince, this kid sticks with conspiracy all down the line. Of course, maybe I should actually read the book. Bugliosi does believe there was conspiracy involved with RFK’s murder (and I sure as hell agree with him on that).