User Reviews (98)

  • clarkj-565-1613365 October 2013
    Abraham, Martin and John
    I was 12 when President Kennedy was assassinated. Even though I am Canadian, it was a huge deal for us. I remember seeing him and his wife Jacquie coming out of the Church of the Ascension in Westmount Montreal sometime in 1962 or thereabouts. No crowds, no security, you could feel something exciting about him. North America changed profoundly after that. This movie does not put forward any theories about what took place at Dealey Plaza, but it does show with great accuracy how normal people are affected by extraordinary events. No matter how well we are prepared for things, when disaster strikes it takes everyone off guard and chaos ensues. Look at current events and we see the same thing. The mixture of archival footage was done exactly right, so you felt that you were really there. Despite the horrible circumstances, by the simple acts of ordinary people, one could see that not everyone had lost their humanity. The acting was superb, Marcia Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti and Zac Efron in particular.
  • Garret Ian Wolowski5 November 2013
    A conspiracy-free portrayal of the aftermath
    Warning: Spoilers
    First of all, most if not all of the low/negative reviews are based upon lack of questioning the events that transpired. This is not a conspiracy theory fueled film. The aim of this film is to document the immediate aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination through 4 different story lines and it does just that.

    Maybe I'm a little bit biased because it's one of my favorite historical events to research and learn about, but I found it to be an insightful and well done look at the people who became involved after the event, without showing/repeating most of the general information that most, if not all viewers familiar with the assassination are already aware of.

    I, for one, am satisfied that they did not blatantly show the entire Zapruder film once the FBI obtained and developed it. Not because I'm squeamish, but because although some may be, and also that this film is not primarily set on the actual assassination itself but rather the emotion and reactions felt afterward.

    However, I do wish that they had shown more of Lee Oswald than they did. But then again like I previously said, most people who have researched the case have seen the videos and know the story (based on the Warren Commission at least) of Oswald's whereabouts and his part in shooting the President.

    People complaining there's not enough "conspiracy" or lack of Oswald in the story, feel free to watch Oliver Stone's JFK instead, or open up a YouTube search and have at it.

    So if you read everything I wrote, or just skipped down here, Parkland is an insightful look at the immediate aftermath of Kennedy's assassination and is highly recommended for fellow history buffs in general, or those interested in learning about the events surrounding November 22, 1963.
  • TheSquiss10 November 2013
    A numbing experience of the horror before conspiracy theories emerged.
    A certain generation gained its knowledge of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy from Oliver Stone's JFK. Don't get me wrong, JFK remains a fine film, but there's a danger of believing the conspiracies are factual. Parkland, Peter Landesman's directorial debut, doesn't necessarily right any wrongs but it does approach the assassination with a clean slate.

    Parkland unfolds the story we are all familiar with, but manages to shock thoroughly as it recounts the events of 22 November 1963 and the immediate aftermath before the conspiracy theories and thoughts of dark dealings beyond the obvious murder emerged. Landesman manages to numb us, playing our own horror and sense of helplessness across the faces of the protagonists before us as their innocence is lost and their faith in humanity is rocked.

    Central to Parkland is Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), the man who inadvertently shot one of the most important 26.6 seconds of film in American history: the arrival of the President's cavalcade and his harrowing, public execution at the hands (probably) of Lee Harvey Oswald. We watch Giamatti's Zapruder evolve from confident boss to shuddering, emotional mess as he realizes just what he has recorded and the impact that footage will have on the world and his own life. It is very easy to view Zapruder as a fortunate man, a man who in a lucky half minute, shot himself fame and financial security, but Giamatti flawlessly portrays a man who just might crumple permanently under the weight and pressure from the police, the Secret Service, the press...

    At every turn in Parkland there is another character recoiling in their own horror, undergoing their own life-changing trauma, and each is played with the sensitivity demanded in order for Parkland not to be a mawkish, voyeuristic experience.

    After last year's The Paperboy (but overlooking the awful The Lucky One), it's definitely time to take Zac Effron seriously as an actor. As Doctor Charles 'Jim' Carrico, the young doctor called upon to put his own emotions aside and fight for the life of his President as the First Lady weeps in the corner holding a chunk of her husband's brain, he looks shell shocked and as numbed by the events as we feel.

    Subtler is James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald, another man whose life is irrevocably changed by the actions of a man, who happens to be his brother. At first shocked by the shooting, he retreats into himself as realisation dawns, emerging only to castigate his deluded mother, Marguerite (Jacki Weaver), who sees an opportunity for fame and hero's honours for her youngest son.

    But Parkland is such a powerful film for much more than the performances. They say the devil is in the detail and it is the minutia that kicks us in the gut the hardest. The obvious is overlooked in favour of the finer points. We never see the Zapruder film clearly or in its entirety but the sound of Jim Carrico pumping the President's chest while the gathered crowd watches silently and without hope, goes right through us. The handle of the coffin torn off as the agents lift it out of the hearse, the panic as they realise it will not fit into Air Force One, the hasty removal of the aircraft panel with saw and shoulder... They all serve to make the situation real, the horror genuine and immediate.

    Landesman has created a film of morality; not just the obvious judgment towards murder, but the more difficult matters of a church burial for a man despised by the population, the suspicion thrown at the family and the blame levied at those who could have prevented the act if they had had the benefit of foresight. Parkland is an emotional journey the delivers a series of punches to leave us reeling.

    Yes, we know the story, even though we may not have even breathed our first breath in 1963, but have we experienced the emotion before now?

    For more reviews from The Squiss, subscribe to my blog and like the Facebook page.
  • Tony Heck3 November 2013
    A different look at the Kennedy Assassination. Doesn't take sides, just the facts. As a huge assassination buff I really liked it.
    "This was not supposed to happen!" Dallas Texas, November 22nd 1963. President Kennedy is in town for a campaign stop and is on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart for a speech. He never makes it. While riding in his motorcade he is struck in the head by a bullet and is rushed to Parkland hospital. A staff of doctors do all they can to save his life but are unsuccessful and he becomes the 4th President to be assassinated. This is what happened next. I will start by saying that I am extremely interested in the Kennedy assassination. I have tons of books, movies and other memorabilia of the Kennedy assassination and administration. I won't bore you with what I know or even my opinion of what happened because that would distract from the review. What I will say is that this is nothing like JFK. That is one of my favorite movies ever but it is more or less an opinion and more conspiratorial. This movie doesn't really deal with the assassination head on but rather the out lying players. The movie focuses on Zapruder (Giamatti), the man who took the famous movie. Forrest Sorrels (Thornton) the head of the secret service. You also see the actions of countless medical staff, Oswald's family and the Dallas F.B.I. You see the actions of these people and how the assassination affected them rather then what all the other movies focus on. Overall, a different kind of Kennedy assassination movie. It doesn't take sides, just shows how people acted. I really enjoyed this a lot. I give it an A.
  • David Ferguson15 October 2013
    Immediate Fallout
    Greetings again from the darkness. Fifty years of investigation and research have spawned an endless number of theories about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened, that tragic day in 1963. President John F Kennedy and his lovely wife Jacqueline had captured the hearts of many Americans, and on a trip to Ft Worth and then Dallas, the streets were lined with eager citizens who just wanted to catch a glimpse ... hoping some of that Camelot magic would rub off. Instead, a city and a country, went spinning off into feelings of anger and devastation. Rather than show us what we already know, this is a peek at a few individuals impacted in ways you might not have previously thought about.

    Vincent Bugliosi made a name for himself as the prosecutor in the Charles Manson Family murder case, and then penning the corresponding book Helter Skelter (subsequently made into a movie). This movie is based on Bugliosi's book "Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy".

    The main stories we follow are that of Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), Lee Harvey Oswald's brother Robert (James Badge Dale), their mother Margueritte (Jacki Weaver), Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels (Billy Bob Thornton), local FBI Agent James Hosty (Ron Livingston), and the emergency room doctors and nurses who treated JFK and Oswald (Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden). You might think that's too many stories for a single movie, and you are probably correct. However, it's fascinating to see the frenetic pace and immediate fallout of just how these people were impacted. Sure, we would like more details and backstory, but that's not the approach this film takes. It just provides a taste of the gut-wrenching decisions Mr. Zapruder has to make while grieving for his beloved President; and the shock of Oswald's brother as reality hits; the stomach-churning delusions of Oswald's mother; the absolute frustration of the CIA and FBI agents knowing their historic failures will be their legacy; and the disparate emotions that enter the operating rooms with Kennedy and Oswald.

    The film doesn't take any stance on the grassy knoll, CIA involvement, LBJ involvement, or number of shooters. This is not a crime solving story or research into conspiracy theories. No, this is a look at real people in extraordinary situations that no amount of preparation can pacify. There are so many little details revealed ... one of the most powerful occurring at the Lee Harvey Oswald funeral, and another as the JFK casket is loaded onto Air Force One just prior to LBJ taking the oath. So many little things you have probably never before considered.

    If you were alive at the time of the assassination, you understand the impact. If you have read any of the stacks of books written about that day, you understand what happened and the messy investigation that followed. Bugliosi and director Peter Landesman effectively mix news reels from the day with dramatizations of the fallout, and the actors do a tremendous job of showing just how personal this affected those at the time. A different perspective brings with it interesting discussion ... and a big thanks if your mother is nothing like Oswald's!
  • reelscreenreviews22 September 2013
    A Perfect Depiction of a National Tragedy - Tiff Review by ReelScreenReviews
    Warning: Spoilers
    ******This Review May Contain Spoilers****** The assassination of JFK and the following 4 days are re-counted in our next review. Hello there to everyone watching and thank you once again for getting your 2013 Toronto International Film Festival info from We Live Film & ReelScreenReviews, I am movie critic Nick Iacobucci & our next movie review is for "Parkland". This period piece and intense drama will open in limited release at the beginning of October and will bow on DVD in November, and it stars Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, & Billy Bob Thornton. "Parkland" comes to us from director Peter Landesman, and he is a first time filmmaker that also serves as the screenwriter on this project.

    "Parkland" tells the tale of the events that unfold on November 22nd, 1963, or the day that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. After being shot President Kennedy was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where a team of respectable medical personal did everything in their power to save this world leader. This film also incorporates the elements of Abraham Zapruder or the man that famously shot the most watched home movie in history. "Parkland" also covers Lee Harvey Oswald and his family's relation to Parkland Memorial, and it also has time for the Dallas Police, the Secret Service, and the FBI.

    Well people "Parkland" is shot very up close and personal, and many times throughout the film you actually feel like you are watching a documentary. It obviously makes use of the Zapruder film and mixes dramatic narrative and actual footage for an almost seamlessly flowing story. "Parkland" felt very realistic from time to time, and never relents on an intensity that it brings forth from the film's beginning.

    Now even though most people are fully aware of the events that occurred on the road in Dallas that fateful day, most are completely unaware of the events that followed. The actions that unravel in the operating room are grippingly graphic and powerfully real, and the film also introduces other points of insight. Like what happens amongst and within the Oswald family is a revelation, and their relationship with the cops and the Feds is quite interesting.

    "Parkland" also explains how an ordinary average garment manufacturer could easily be considered a United States national hero. Abraham Zapruder knew what he had filmed, and I might add knew about the technicalities of photography for the time period. He was there with the FBI & the Secret Service every step of the way, and Mr. Zapruder was the distinct and crucial element as to why anyone knows anything about the murder of JFK. He positively knew what he had filmed and he kept on filming it as it played out, and in my opinion that alone makes him a hero. There are only conspiracy theories today because of the strength of Abraham Zapruder in that moment on the 22nd of November 1963, and without him nobody would've known anything concrete. It shows us direction and a time scale of the shots fired as well as a 2 dimensional blueprint of the murder itself. Put simply in an era where cameras were just being invented for the masses, this was the one aspect the killers never counted on.

    Then "Parkland's" authentic look and feel was truly a character all its own, and added very much in its delivery. The clothes and décor, the cars and props, everything in this feature is a spot on match for 50 years previous. Then aside from the way the movie looks the emotional connection that it captures with the audience is even more impressive. There were many people in attendance that were crying for a fallen American President that was likely killed many years before they were even born. This film perfectly conveys the misery & tragedy of a country mourning the loss of its emperor.

    Then I actually wrote the word 'Relentless' in my notes to describe this film 4 times throughout its viewing. "Parkland" absolutely does not stop in terms of the trauma that unfolds in the hospital, the city, or the country that November day. It seems to interweave authorities, witnesses, victims, & of course medical personal all wrapped up in a national heartbreak. This movie is filmed well, the screenplay is tight, the acting is top notch, and with little time to breathe I don't know how anyone could complain about boredom.

    I think that I clocked "Parkland" at a quick 1 hour and 30 minutes, and in that time there wasn't even 1 boring or worthless second. This film is the definition of a true ensemble cast, and that's where everyone that stars in it cares more about the film than they do about their own individual performances. This movie flew by as one of the most enjoyable, interesting, and informative films that I have seen all year, and that's why Nick's Reel Screen Review is a perfect 4 stars out of 4. That perfect recommendation comes for the grippingly realistic drama "Parkland".
  • estebangonzalez107 November 2013
    Reminded me of a Paul Greengrass sort of film
    ¨It's the first time that the secret service has lost a president under its watch.¨

    I'm actually surprised I enjoyed this film so much considering the bad reviews it has been receiving and my lack of knowledge on the historical details about the assassination of John F Kennedy. There have been many films made about this specific event, but very few have taken this approach where you get to experience things through the eyes of secondary characters and people behind the scenes like the Parkland medical staff that had to attend the president, or Oswald's brother who is shocked to hear his brother has shot the president. The apparently small scaled moments of this tragic event (like how the medical staff decide to keep the president's boxers on during surgery to preserve his dignity, or the urgency with which the Secret Service agents were trying to get a film of the assassination developed, or how Robert Oswald reacts when he hears that his brother is the prime suspect of the murder) are what truly make this film gripping and unique. The film has its flaws such as failing to have narrative cohesion and the characters are underdeveloped at times, but I think it worked really well considering everything happened so fast and these people had to make split second decisions. The overall feeling of chaos and messiness of the events that took place really transcend here as everything happens so fast and the film is reduced to a length of merely 90 minutes. The film follows a semi documentary style that totally works because you can feel the tension and urgency with which they had to deal with during such a catastrophic event. Parkland is Peter Landesman's first feature film and somehow the movie touched me in a way that apparently hasn't touched most audiences or critics. I didn't expect to like this film as much as I did, but I really felt engaged from the very opening scenes up to the very end. It doesn't offer new insight to a popular historical event, but it does tell the story differently. As we approach the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death this might be a movie worth checking out (just don't go into it thinking you are going to get another Oliver Stone JFK). The film's strongest strength relies on this sense of urgency and how it depicts the events in real time as everyone had to make life changing decisions in a matter of seconds. But it also seems to be its weakness as many consider it to be a little too over the place and chaotic with little cohesiveness.

    The film follows the tragic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 involving the assassination of President John F Kennedy. The story focuses on the perspective of the people in the sidelines that witnessed the event first hand like the medical staff in Parkland Hospital that were there that tragic day. Young Doctor Jim Carrico (Zac Efron) was the resident doctor that day in Parkland, and some of the nurses that were there to assist him were Nurse Doris (Marcia Gay Harden) and the emergency room nurse played by Mallory Moye. We get another perspective of that day through the eyes of a small businessman named Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), who happened to capture the assassination on his Super 8 camera. We also see things through the eyes of Dallas's chief of the Secret Service, Forrest Sorrels (Billy Bob Thornton), an FBI agent named James Hosty (Ron Livingston) who was investigating Lee Harvey Oswald (Jeremy Strong), and Lee Harvey's brother Robert (James Badge Dale) and mother (Jacki Weaver) who react differently to the news about the murder. All these different perspectives are weaved together giving us an engaging film and different insight into what was going on. Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, Colin Hanks, Jackie Earle Haley, and Kat Steffens all play secondary characters in this star studded cast.

    There were some strong performances in this film although not really Oscar worthy. I specially liked James Badge Dale in this film who gives a quiet but brave performance, while Paul Giamatti rings true with his emotional performance as he has to deal with the pain of viewing the horrific event he captured on camera. The rest of the cast didn't really stand out considering they all had very little screen time, but it was good to see some of these talented actors working together. Jacki Weaver is a talented actress and she proves it once again in this small role. The cast is solid and the script is also pretty engaging. I was glad everything was depicted so fast and that the film didn't run too long.
  • trublu21515 November 2013
    A subtle yet powerful film about one of the most infamous days in American history
    The assassination of John F. Kennedy has been recanted in countless movies and television shows for the past 20 years. So what makes Parkland any different from Oliver Stone's JFK or the miniseries The Kennedys? The difference is that this film is in no way, shape or form a political film. This is NOT a conspiracy film, this is not a political family saga, this is a story that we have never been shown. The people who surrounded JFK on his final hours are the people that saw the true horrors of November 22 and Parkland puts us right there with them. The cast is masterful, Billy Bob Thorton, Zac Effron, and Paul Giamatti being the stand outs of the impressive list. The story is impactful, showing the audience what Parkland hospital was really like that fateful day when President Kennedy was brutally murdered. The hysteria, the sweat, the tears and the blood fill the emergency room as a determined Zac Effron pounds on the chest of Kennedy's body. It is moments like these that save Parkland from the cheesier scenes, notably any with Ron Livingston. The film succeeds partially to Effron's small but commanding performance and a latter half of the film focused on a brooding Robert Oswald, who is played pitch perfectly by James Badge Dale. The film doesn't break any new ground in the dramatic factor but instead reminds us of how good these actors can be in the right setting. The story is split between the actual events of the assassination, the search and capture of Oswald, and the colossal screw up at the FBI that may or may not have prevented Kennedy's assassination. In any sense, Parkland works with the 90 minute running time despite so much information coming at you at once, which sometimes works against its advantages, making for a confusing watch for a couple minutes before you can have time to process what is going on. Despite a jarring narrative at times, Parkland succeeds in performances alone and is worth it for that alone.
  • Robert W.9 September 2013
    A very highly anticipated film for me, my first North American Premier to boot!!
    Warning: Spoilers
    I am a Kennedy historian, have been since I was about 13. I live for any films (dramatizations or documentaries) about the Kennedy dynasty or Assassination. When I first heard about Parkland, my expectations immediately were astronomical. I was so thrilled and could not wait to see it. So, add to that astronomical excitement when I received a ticket to the North American premier at the Toronto International Film Festival. My reason for telling all this was perhaps when the film comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray I will watch it again and come back to my review. It was hard to truly analyze this film amidst my excitement. I do agree with many professional critics that creator/writer/director Peter Landesman bit off more than he could chew. This is a huge story and a lot going on and he covers more than he should. Despite the film being called "Parkland" it spends as much time focusing on other events outside the hospital after the assassination. It would have made far more sense to stay inside the hospital and show us a dramatization of these people (similar to what Emilio Estevez's Bobby did) rather than covering so much all over the place. I do give him kudos for his historical accuracy and covering an angle of the assassination that I am fairly certain has never been on film before.

    Despite there being some significant names attached to the film, there was literally no star. Everyone shared a few minutes, a few scenes, and a few lines. Perhaps that made it harder to become emotionally invested in these characters. I have never been a "hater" of Zac Efron but I've never really been a fan either. He won me over in this film for two reasons. 1. At the premier of the film he was so incredibly great with his fans and the crowd. He worked that crowd and got to every person he possibly could. 2. His performance (in particular the scene at the beginning of the film when he is first called in to work on Kennedy) is pretty close to the best in the entire movie. He shows some incredible emotion and strength and proves he has some serious acting chops. Despite being listed second in the cast Tom Welling's role was incredibly small. I am pretty sure he had three lines in the whole film so sadly I can't say good or bad to his performance because it was simply unnoticeable (and I am a huge fan of his from Smallville days.) Paul Giamatti is good in his role as Zapruder. I expected him to be great because Giamatti is a great actor and he certainly looks the role but he just doesn't seem to really sink into it. Marcia Gay Harden is decent in her role but it is a painfully small role which was surprising for her. She is basically a supporting cameo to the whole story. Ron Livingston gives a solid performance as James Hosty but I desperately wanted to see more from him and more from the character as well. Same for Billy Bob Thorton who gives a good performance but in so few scenes. The person who seems to get the most screen time is James Badge Dale who plays Robert Oswald. He is also very good in the role but the script just doesn't seem to give any of these great actors enough to really get into their characters. Many of these real life people could almost support their own films so to see their characters rushed is unfortunate. Jeremy Strong is a good Oswald, he certainly looks the part but his one major scene opposite Badge Dale isn't enough to show off his ability.

    This type of story is simply too grand and complex in scale to cram into an hour and a half without it feeling rushed. I wanted to become emotionally invested in these characters and I struggled to do that. I also noticed that I felt like the rest of the audience was getting a little restless around the halfway mark. It laid everything out in point form and didn't beat around the bush but it missed the dramatization of the situation and forgot to make you feel like you were there rather than receiving a history lesson. It isn't a total loss, there are some really good scenes (Kennedy first arriving at Parkland, Oswald's burial was a particularly strong scene.) I thought the scenes of Zapruder and others seeing the film for the first time would be powerful but honestly...their reactions felt forced. I sort of understand the tepid reviews this is receiving. It is worth seeing but falls short of being a great historical film. Peter Landesman simply doesn't have the directing experience to make this work. I am sure he is a brilliant man but his directing lacks experience. His previous work that I have seen (Trade-See my review) could have been an amazing, stunning film but due to his direction it missed some crucial things and same could be said for this. Yes, my expectations were high but it ended up only delivering on the most basic level. 7/10

    ***Side note--I attended the North American Premier at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday September 6th/2013. I had the opportunity to shake hands and speak briefly with Tom Welling. I am not stating this to brag but rather more for my own benefit so when I look back on this review I can fondly remember my first premier! Thanks everyone who read my reviews!!***
  • phd_travel21 November 2013
    Different angle - fascinating
    If you think you have seen enough on screen about the assassination, this movie doesn't go into territory covered by previous movies like "JFK". No conspiracy theories or reconstruction of the shooting. Instead its provides you with a detailed fascinating view of the events and people that you don't figure centrally on screen before. What happened at the hospital from the point of view of doctors and nurses - harrowing. Removing the body after death to Air Force One by the secret service. Lee Harvey Oswald's brother and mother and their reaction. Zapruder's filming of the event and the way the film was developed and first viewed. The FBI's first reaction to the shootings and Oswald.

    The movie is very well directed. It gives a feel of being in the thick of things. Authentic. The acting is good with a mostly well chosen cast. Zac Efron as the doctor who first attended to JFK. Paul Giamatti as Zapruder. Tom Welling and Billy Bon Thornton as a Secret Service agents. The actor playing Oswald looks like him. A couple of not so good choices. The actress playing Jackie didn't look too much like her. Colin Hanks didn't look like a chief resident doctor.

    Overall very interesting. Worth a watch.
  • Aisha Robins12 October 2013
    Inconceivable Event, Powerful Film
    Though I agree with reviewers that some of the acting was less than stellar, particularly in the vapid portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, I became completely engaged in the devastation slammed into the lives of the "little people" and those charged with handling the travesty that was the point of "Parkland." Everyone was just "going about their lives," excited to see this hero President in their own city. It wasn't about memorable dialog. That was in the prepared statements of straight-faced Walter Cronkite in that new era of television reporting, but it wouldn't have been appropriate for those on the scene. The point was the event, and the total panic and confusion in what was an incredibly short time span. People were stunned, and they didn't know what to do, whether in the operating room to protect the dignity of the President by leaving his shorts on, or faced with the decision of where to put the casket. I don't care if these didn't happen in reality. I expected to be emotionally engaged in the story and I wasn't disappointed. I was appropriately jolted by the shifts between images of how each person in Dallas responded - from the Secret Service to the Dallas Medical Examiner to the typically human compulsions to crowd the one-foot square window into the operating room. Though the portrayal of Marguerite Oswald might have seemed "over the top," for me it captured her bizarre, insane determination to be the aggrieved party. What a dramatic contrast with the personal strength of her son, Robert Oswald. Even though he always believed his brother killed the President of the United States, we learn that he never changed his name and didn't move his family from the Dallas area. And the life of Abraham Zapruder was decimated. Here's a small business owner who's excited about using his new state-of-the-art movie camera to capture the President's visit. He wasn't there to film an assassination. I think I would have been "sweaty," too, if this kind of responsibility dropped onto my shoulders because of an inconceivable twist of fate. Suddenly his life was taken over by the Secret Service, the ultimate national police force, and his integrity and resistance to being in the limelight were obvious. Though he was the center of attention in processing the film footage, that was clearly not his role in the overall unfolding of events. Bottom line, I guess the reviewer and I had very different perspectives on the validity of Peter Landesman's goals for "Parkland" and how well he achieved them. I couldn't disagree more strongly with Peter Debruge's review.
  • DragnetDC6 October 2013
    Riveting and Refreshing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Warning: Spoilers
    If you believe the garbage, lies, obfuscation, non sequiturs, and pure fiction produced by Oliver Stone in "JFK," then you will hate "Parkland." However, if you, like me, have been waiting a long, long time for Hollywood to make a movie that sticks to the facts (the good, bad or ugly facts) about the crime of the 20th Century, then you will LOVE this movie.

    The dialog is real. The words the actors speak are as close to reality as possible, and not some script writer's ideological interpretation to fit a conspiracy theory.

    The movie is so fast paced, I didn't think 94 minutes could fly by that quickly! The panic, fear, confusion and shock of the Secret Service agents, Dallas Police, FBI, Parkland Hospital staff, witnesses, news media and the American public is non stop!!!!! Paul Giamatti is superb as Abraham Zapruder, the reluctant hero who recorded the most famous home movie in history.

    James Badge Dale nails it as Robert Oswald, the assassin's brother who now has to deal with a new, terrible reality. He makes you feel his disgust for his brother's actions, but at the same time, feel his sympathy and sorrow for Lee Harvey.

    Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden are great as the Emergency Room doctor and nurse, who without warning, are forced to deal with a fatal gunshot wound to the most important person in the world. You can see the initial fear and trepidation on their faces before they snap out of their daze and try to save the President's life.

    One of the most underrated actors of our time, Ron Livingston, plays FBI agent James Hosty, the man who was assigned the case of Lee Harvey Oswald after he returned from Russia. The FBI's investigation of Oswald is going nowhere fast, and Hosty describes Oswald as a "nobody." But as his boss screams at him, a NOBODY who just shot the President! The viewer feels sorry for Hosty as he is being forced to compromise his ethics and integrity to help the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover avoid the embarrassment sure to follow if the world finds out Oswald came to the FBI office in Dallas ten days before the assassination and threatened Hosty.

    Billy Bob Thornton......................what more can I say! He is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. He jumps off the screen as Forrest Sorrels, the Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service in Dallas. He must be nominated for an Academy Award for this role! And I will close with a comment about Jacki Weaver, an Australian actress who plays the mother of the Oswald brothers. Phenomenal!!! She knocked it out of the park. Quickly, the viewer see just how crazy she is, and how in the middle of such horrors as the assassination of the President, she embarrasses her son Robert with her utterly preposterous claims about her son, Lee.

    I hope every high school history teacher in America shows this film in class so the younger generation can see what really happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
  • samkan24 October 2013
    Melodramatic Yet Good
    Warning: Spoilers
    The dictionary definition of "melodrama" says"characterized by heavy use of suspense, sensational episodes, romantic sentiment....."; i.e., not necessarily the bum rap usually associated with the moniker. Contrary to a few of the COMMENTS herein, I didn't find any of the five character stories/point-of-views to be controversial or conspiracy oriented Rather, the film aims to convey the intensity and tragedy that struck our country on 11-22-63. The emergency room scene following JFK's shooting is many things - horrific, tragic, sensational, gripping, etc. A viewer would have to be near comatose not to be taken by such! Paul Giamatti's scenes display some fine acting as do the young actor who played Ronald Oswald. In sum, the movie-making skills and acting are just suburb. Don't go to see this move as an followup to Oliver Stone's JFK or if you're a conspiracy kook. PARKLAND serves as a reverent, appropriate momento to the 50th anniversary of our national tragedy.
  • lavatch6 October 2013
    Parkland Fails to Assess the Facts in the JFK Assassination
    Warning: Spoilers
    For a number of years, I taught a course on the JFK assassination at a major American university. I was looking forward to "Parkland" as a film that could provide new insights into the case at the time of the fiftieth anniversary. Unfortunately, the film presents a superficial account of the events of the tragic assassination weekend. Above all, it fails to assess the wealth of new information we have today to understand why and how President Kennedy was murdered.

    The film is structured around four main stories unfolding during the assassination weekend--the events at Parkland Hospital, the famous home movie taken by Abraham Zapruder, the instant arrest and subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald while in custody of the Dallas police, and the handling of the case by the FBI. In every instance, the filmmakers fail to probe beneath the surface to shed light on the assassination.

    While the film pays tribute to the heroic efforts of the Parkland medical professionals to save the life of President Kennedy, it completely ignores the most important testimony of those eyewitness at the hospital. Researcher Robert Groden interviewed 82 members of the medical staff--the precise group of characters depicted in the film--and learned that every eyewitness (100%) indicated that the president was shot from the front of the limousine, due to the tiny entry wound to his throat. The significance of this detail is that Oswald could not have been the only shooter in the case. The film neatly sidesteps this essential issue.

    In depicting the historic role played by dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder, the film is hopelessly mistaken on crucial details about Zapruder's home movie. Zapruder himself provides a fascinating and detailed account of his filming and his recall of the events in Dealey Plaza, as published in the Warren Commission hearings. It is not clear that the screenwriters even consulted this essential primary source. After returning to his office, Mr. Zapruder first locked the film in his safe. He insisted on working personally with Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels to try to ensure the integrity of the evidence. The film, which shows Sorrels coercing Zapruder, does not come close to depicting the original handling of the film and how the chain of custody in this crucial piece of evidence was broken during the assassination weekend.

    In its portrayal of the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, the film made the fatal mistake of developing Oswald from the perspective of his brother Robert. We never saw the vehement attempts of Oswald to proclaim his innocence, wherein he informed the media that "I did not shoot anyone" and "I'm just a patsy." In the film's odd treatment of Marguerite Oswald, the performer adopted a Southern accent; but the short Marguerite did not speak with a Southern drawl. In the film, Marguerite claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald was a government agent. But the film never made the effort to determine whether or not there was any truth in Marguerite's assertion.

    In perhaps the most accurate subplot depicted in "Parkland," the film focuses on the intentional destruction of evidence by the Dallas FBI office when SA Gordon Shanklin orders Agent James Hosty to destroy its file on Oswald. This strand of the film is revealing because we never see the FBI actually investigating the crime scene: Oswald is immediately arrested, identified as the killer of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit, prior to being shot by Jack Ruby on live television. Immediately, Oswald was convicted in the minds of the public through the efforts of the FBI and, later, the Warren Commission. Astonishingly, the crime scene was not secured, evidence was destroyed, and the facts were subsequently manipulated to fit the instant conclusion of Oswald's guilt.

    In 1991, director-writer Oliver Stone was condemned by the media for his three-hour treatment of the assassination in the film "JFK." But Stone and his screenwriter Zachary Sklar published a 600-page book (still in print), documenting sources for every fact in the film. Will the filmmakers of "Parkland" also be providing a companion source book to demonstrate the extent of their research? Or, was the goal merely to present the same story told to the public after Americans returned to work on November 26, 1963?
  • l_rawjalaurence24 November 2013
    Low-Key Retelling of the Kennedy Assassination
    Based on Vincent Bugliosi's book retelling the events leading up to and following the Kennedy assassination on a minute-by-minute basis, PARKLAND is a low-key film that eschews sensationalism in favor of characterization. Director Peter Landesman focuses on the reactions of those involved in the affair, notably Dr. Jim Carrico (Zac Efron), who treated JFK at the Parkland Hospital, and FBI agent James Hosty (Ron Livingston). The film is shot in cinéma-vérité style, with lots of quick cuts and close-ups on the protagonists with the minimum of climatic scenes. Sometimes the action drags slightly, but PARKLAND's main concern is to illuminate the human cost of the tragedy - for example, the reaction of dressmaker Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), whose amateur film of the tragedy constituted the only available record of what actually happened. Director Landesman shows how the emotional effect of being regularly interrogated by the FBI proved too much for him. We also see the reaction of the nurses in the Parkland Hospital, who strove to save the President's life but eventually failed. Compared to other versions of the event - for example, Oliver Stone's JFK - PARKLAND lacks sensationalism. but is nonetheless extremely well made, a testament to the efforts of everyone involved, actors, directors and those behind the camera alike.
  • Jaybird2486 December 2013
    Extraordinary Film
    This is an extraordinary film. It's as true to what actually happened as a filmmaker could do it. And it takes you places, including the bloody trauma room where the heroic efforts to save Kennedy failed, that no assassination film ever has. The story is largely told in the faces of the characters. Even the Zapruder film plays out reflected in his eyeglasses. And remarkable vignettes such as the actual fight with local authorities to get the body back to DC and the struggle to get the casket onto a plane never designed to carry one are shown in full. A side story shows the effect of Oswald's act on his family, his brother trying to digest and cope with it all, and his lunatic mother staking her own claim to fame. Whether you lived through that terrible time or have others in your life who never did, see Parkland. The event will never be forgotten. And this film will take you to a new level of understanding why.
  • Onthethreshold7 October 2013
    An underrated masterpiece...
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm not too sure why this film has had such critical reviews but what I will say is that given the depth of this story, the condensation of this into a mere 90 minutes manages to pull off the gist of the tale quite well. Anyone who has read "Four Days in November", "The Death of a President", and " The Day Kennedy Was Shot" can appreciate how much more could've been told in this film but in the same vein doing so would've made watching this film interminable. Oliver Stones "JFK" could pull off three hours because much of what he directed was contrived and speculation which makes for more interesting cinema but "Parkland" tells the story as it was and leaves the speculation of conspiracy to others. In the end this was a good effort because fundamentally some stories are best left to proper documentary film makers and historical writers who possess the talent to tell it in a way only they can. (and there is plenty of excellent material out there to read and watch)" Parkland" may help encourage the curious to seek this material out given the half century anniversary of this tragic event. In the final analysis, this movie achieves its goal of depicting how the assassination of the 35th president affected its witnesses, peripheral players and ultimately a nation even till this day.

    This was not a film meant for controversy, Academy Award nominations or box office ticket sales records.
  • dstieler8 January 2014
    Great Emotional Ride
    Warning: Spoilers

    I see a lot of bad reviews and a low score for this movie and at first I didn't understand why. But after reading the reviews I understand now that people just don't get what this movie is. If you're looking for a documentary style movie or for a conspiracy theory laden movie, well that's not what you getting here. What this movie is, and what makes it such a good movie, is the fact that its not supposed to be either one of those things.

    This movie depicts a moment in time where history causes the lives of many people to collide at one horrific moment and depicts the emotional roller coaster that the people involved experience. We all know what happened, but the facts alone are quite sterile, as the years pass, the overwhelming emotion of the moment is lost. It is the emotions of the characters that drive this movie. Of course there are no conspiracy theories, because in the few days immediately following the assassination, conspiracies weren't even on most people's radars. The country was consumed with grief, anger, pain and sympathy for the former first family, especially Mrs. Kennedy.

    The graphic scenes in the Parkland Hospital Emergency room are necessary to fully express the desperation and heroic efforts made by the ER doctors and the sense of grief and ultimate failure of the Secret Service Agents who lost their "man." The president's wounds were severe, there is no escaping that fact. To play down the gore in the ER would be a disservice to the emotional tone of the movie. You need to see how desperate the situation really was and how it affected everyone in that ER. This movie's beauty is in the details. Jackie sitting in the corner as the doctors work on the president and then handing the nurse a piece of her husbands skull and brain matter that she was holding in her bloody white gloves gives you a glimpse into the horror and devastation she was experiencing at that moment. After the president had been placed in his coffin, the Secret Service did actually fight with the medical examiner and did essentially steal the presidents body, an historical fact that many people may not know. Then the decision to place him in the seating area of Air Force One and the difficulty of getting the casket through the door, including the loss of one of the handles, is just a fantastic scene that depicts the dedication and desperation of the agents who failed their president.

    The film also successfully depicts the emotional struggle of Abraham Zapruder and his realization that he is responsible for a momentous piece of film and the weight of that knowledge crushes him. The depiction of the Oswalds, especially brother Robert, is fascinating. His family is now forever shamed and forever linked to this event through no fault of his own and he has to live with that fact for the rest of his life. Lee's funeral is depicted, an event that occurred the same day as Kennedy's funeral, and true to the facts the only pallbearers for Lee were the press members on hand.

    I urge you to watch this movie and appreciate it for what it is, a glimpse into the horror of that day as witnessed by the people who experienced it.
  • ProfessorFate27 October 2013
    A street level account of a horrific event
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm pretty sure most everybody knows the story, but okay,

    **************SPOILERS AHEAD**************

    It seems some reviewers are criticizing "Parkland" for not being the movie they wanted it to be - in other words, it doesn't argue their conspiracy theory angle. No, it's not a movie that wallows in conspiracy theories. What it does do is present the impact of the JFK assassination on a group of people we normally don't hear about: the doctors and nurses at the hospital, the secret service agents, Oswald's brother and mother, the people at the Dallas FBI office, and Abraham Zapruder and his family. In my opinion it presents these stories extremely well.

    The film is a moment-by-moment observation of what happened to these people on the day of the assassination and the days that followed. It reveals some fascinating details that may surprise even those who are well read on the topic. For example, we see Zapruder begin filming and get a look through his camera as the motorcade approaches, but then the director focuses on Zapruder as the shots are fired. Even those barely familiar with the assassination probably know the actual shooting only took a few seconds, but in the scene we live those seconds with Zapruder, and it's startling how lightning fast those seconds speed by. The audience is left dazed and numb at what has just happened, just like Zupruder and the others on the grassy knoll.

    The Parkland hospital emergency room is literally stormed by the Secret Service, and the staff, who were chatting and relaxing a moment earlier, suddenly have the President's bloody body thrust before them. The director does a great job creating a palpable "you are there" feeling, allowing us to eavesdrop on the operating room and notice little details like Jackie's pill box hat riding atop JFK's body as he is wheeled in, or sharing the surprise when the doctor notices the President is wearing a lumbar support. Reading about the confrontation between the Dallas medical examiner and the Secret Service is one thing, but the scene as presented by the director is full of tension, anger and testosterone. Every scene at the hospital is absolutely compelling and perfectly paced.

    The subplots involving Robert Oswald and the local FBI agents were also really well done, and the script cleverly weaves these two stories together near the end of the film.

    I've done more than my fair share of reading on the topic, and it's obvious there was a conspiracy, but that's not the point of the film. No movie can do everything, and film makers who try to jam too much into a 90 minute film are foolish. I didn't see any lies or blatant distortions. What I did see was a riveting and compassionate look at a horrible event in US history. "Parkland" is brilliantly successful at what it sets out to do, and that's the only criteria upon which it should be judged.
  • madorosh6 October 2013
    Excellent Depiction of Some Ancillary Characters, However Rushed
    Warning: Spoilers
    It was rumoured years ago that Tom Hanks wanted to do a mini-series based on the Kennedy Assassination, as a counter-point to Oliver Stone's film, "JFK", using Vincent Bugliosi's research as a guide. If anything, this film is a convincing argument for such a series - and perhaps is even a test-bed for such a project. The film seems to pack a lot of material in, and as noted by many others, the pacing feels off.

    However, there is a great verisimilitude created by the inclusion of actual footage - in limited amounts - as well as the integration of the ground-breaking television coverage of the events of the day. The conclusion of the film is perhaps too subtle, but if one pays attention to what Cronkite is saying and relates it to the action on-screen, there is a very clever "conclusion" to the film that it seems some reviewers have missed. I saw this film in the same (opening) weekend as "Gravity" and ironically, the latter film is receiving rave reviews for the acting of its cast, despite not really having much of a story. In fact, "Gravity" is really not much more than a thematic notion about "rebirth" with two weakly drawn characters, while "Parkland" focuses on a group of real-life men and women who had to deal with a major historical catastrophe. I found the latter far more gripping, and compelling.

    Some of the choices in "Parkland" were a bit odd, and comparing to the historical record as set out by the source material - Bugliosi - one sees some liberties taken for one presumes cinematic reasons. Other reviewers have pointed out some (i.e. Zapruder had initially locked his film in his safe, not clutched it to his bosom in Dealey Plaza). One wonders if we truly won't see an expanded version of this film, in mini-series form, with the many other characters explored. The actor chosen to portray Lee Harvey Oswald bore an uncanny resemblance and the effort seemed wasted given the tiny screen time given to that major historical figure. One could easily see some merit to an 8 or even 10 part treatment of various subjects, including Oswald's life in Russia, the assassination attempt on General Walker, the work of the Warren Commission, the rise of the conspiracy industry, Jack Ruby's last weekend of freedom, the Clay Shaw trial, etc. Many more interesting stories to tell from the perspective of the Bugliosi/Posner perspective.
  • chodorov30 August 2015
    Well-acted, poorly put together
    Warning: Spoilers
    The acting was pretty good - as much as any one actor had a chance to do so. But I am amazed that not one review points out how incredibly one-sided this movie is. The clearest evidence that Oswald could not have been the lone-shooter as claimed was the Zapruder film, which is an important part of this movie. But it is never shown in the movie. Also, that Oswald was already publicly announced as Kennedy's assassin within one hour of the shooting was, and still is, outrageous. Yet how anyone came to this conclusion is not even touched upon in the film. Not one single scene from the search at the TSBD, nothing until Oswald was already in custody. And how and who decided to remove the body from the hospital before an autopsy is not even touched upon, just the short heated exchange between the coroner and the Secret Service. If the film simply showed what happened in the hospital, that would be one aspect of the story. But here many other aspects are shown, and an incredible amount of detail remains not shown or even touched upon. The film has some interesting aspects, a side not shown before. But the story telling is just plain poor, leaving too many questions unanswered. They showed Oswald being shot, but nothing about what happened after, except the ER scene. OK, but then why all the stuff about the FBI and the burning of the file? Again, very selective in what is shown and not shown. I give the film 5/10 because I like the style of it and the acting. But the story itself is really poorly portrayed.
  • dbwilyumz5 October 2013
    Good docudrama, but no real plot
    Parkland is well done with an excellent cast. It is also an odd movie because it has no "plot". It's a docudrama, re-enacting a series of scenes and incidents. There's no story arc, no real character development or transformation.

    The character with the most "story" is Abraham Zapruder, who is affected by the experience, and we see it. Many of the other characters are just there, doing what they do. Zac Efron is kind of wasted in his role as surgical resident Dr. Jim Carrico, because he just does surgical-resident stuff; the script doesn't exploit any of his charms.

    Parkland is tightly paced, for the most part, but sags a bit toward the end, because there actually is no end, just the last incident. They had to fall back on an audio wrap-up by Walter Cronkite and pull the lens out of focus to close it up.

    Conspiracy theorists will find no solace here, because this movie is about the people who weren't part of the crime.
  • bluefoxniner20 November 2013
    why the low rating???
    Warning: Spoilers
    Parkland is a very different type of film to the usual JFK assassination types. It doesn't delve into the 'whodunnit' side of things or point fingers at cover ups nor conspiracies.

    What it does do,however is look at how the death of JFK affected people not routinely associated with him.

    I found it to be unlike any other film i have seen, the only one that it bears any sort of parallel to me is " taking chance".

    I thought the documentary type shooting was beautifully atmospheric and felt numb with helplessness at the suffering of Jacqueline Kennedy.

    It's obvious appeal will immediately be with those who like the Kennedy assassination genre, but I found it to be a deeply emotional film in it's own right.

    it's worth a lot more than the current 6/10 rating.
  • crdnlsyn1323 May 2015
    I have been studying, watching, speaking about, and all around fascinated with this event that happened 8 years before I was even born. I've seen every adaptation and film about this event, and this is the first one that actually captured the 'human' element of the story. For decades we've grown so jaded by the coverage, and documentaries and reports that go on year after year on the anniversary, that we've disassociated the 'human' element of what happened.

    We've never been given a real glimpse into the emotions of the doctors, and nurses in the room that day. We've NEVER truly felt Jackie's pain and anguish in that room, on that day, until now. I cried, after years and years of watching, and reading, and talking about all this... during the emergency room scene, I cried. The 'human' element of all of it, FINALLY hit home.

    Great film, great story, told from a great angle. Conspiracy theorists, and detractors should set aside their agendas for a moment, and just feel what the Doctor's and Nurses, and all the others felt during those moments. Truly moving, no matter what you believe happened that day.
  • 3xHCCH16 December 2013
    A Different Perspective of the Kennedy Assassination
    This film was made with a color palette purposefully muted to mesh seamlessly with actual news reels about that fateful day of November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That was the day an assassin's bullet killed beloved US President John F. Kennedy. The whole thing looked like a documentary the way it was handled by new director Peter Landesman.

    This film though was unlike the other films we might have already seen about the Kennedy Assassination. This is definitely not another "JFK" that offers more conspiracy theories. In fact, this movie is not even directly about JFK himself, nor Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby, who were the major players in this real-life drama. "Parkland" interweaves for us the stories of various individuals who were indirectly dragged into the tragic mess of that day by sheer chance.

    Abraham Zapruder is a name we always hear when the topic is about the JFK assassination. Of course, his iconic film clip that graphically shows how the fatal bullet hit JFK during his motorcade. But we do not know or see Zapruder himself until this film. As portrayed by Paul Giamatti, his performance was topnotch and stirring as he grappled with the responsibility of capturing the moment of JFK's death on film.

    Forrest Sorrels is a veteran member of the Secret Service who is devastated that his perfect record of protecting his 'Man" had just been broken on that day. Billy Bob Thornton portrays this character with utmost respect and dignity. We also meet other SS men like Roy Kellerman (Tom Welling), with their touching display of utmost loyalty to their fallen leader.

    Dr. Charles Jim Carrico was the emergency room-resident on duty that fateful day. Having Zac Efron portray this character was initially distracting because of his star wattage. However, Efron played it very cool despite his character not knowing fully what to do, and being drenched with presidential blood. Colin Hank played the attending consultant Dr. Matthew Perry, though his screen presence paled beside Efron's.

    James Hosty is an FBI agent who had been investigating about Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination. However, unfortunately he never really thought Oswald could kill JFK. He was played by Ron Livingstone as this person wracked by guilt and conscience as his superiors do not disguise their dismay for his lack of foresight.

    Robert Oswald is the brother of Lee Harvey who was ashamed about the role his brother played in American History. James Badge Dale played this character with his internal conflicts out on his sleeve. The Oswald matriarch Margeruite, though, was played by Jacki Weaver perfectly off - kilter.
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