Combustible Celluloid
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With: Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Ron Livingston, James Badge Dale, Billy Bob Thornton, Mark Duplass, Gil Bellows, Colin Hanks, Jackie Earle Haley, Rory Cochrane, Jacki Weaver
Written by: Peter Landesman
Directed by: Peter Landesman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for bloody sequences of ER trauma procedures, some violent images and language, and smoking throughout
Running Time: 93
Date: 10/04/2013

Parkland (2013)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Kennedy Centered

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rookie writer/director Peter Landesman had a great idea for Parkland, making a kind of "rarities and 'B'-sides" collection and telling the story of the Kennedy assassination again through the eyes of the minor players. However, he doesn't really connect these stories other than through the tragedy itself, and taken separately, none of the stories has any great depth.

In November of 1963, President John F. Kennedy is visiting Dallas, and everyone is excited. But when he is shot through the head, people experience different reactions. A hospital staff (Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Hanks) tries to save him. Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) films the motorcade with his new motion picture camera and finds himself in possession of valuable evidence.

A Secret Service man (Billy Bob Thornton) tries to deal with the fact that he and his men failed in their jobs. An FBI agent (Ron Livingston) realizes that he could have captured the shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, in advance. And the killer's brother, Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), tries to come to terms with this deadly, shocking act.

It's interesting seeing amateur filmmaker Zapruder portrayed onscreen, especially by Giamatti, but his story arc is a little disappointing: trying to find a place to quickly develop and copy the film, but then just as quickly selling it to LIFE magazine. The story of Lee Harvey Oswald's brother Robert (James Badge Dale) is more interesting, and might have made a good feature by itself, but again, there's too little here.

The hospital sequence is probably the least useful, decorated by escalated blood and gore, giving the talented Marcia Gay Harden nothing to do, and giving the robotic, dead-eyed Zac Efron too much.

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