Peter Landesman writes and directs Parkland, a film depicting a pastiche of events following the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald’s family, the doctors in the trauma unit, the Secret Service guys and Abraham Zapruder all get screen time in this sometimes-interesting but somewhat scattered drama.

Paul Giamatti is the film’s best asset as Zapruder, a Kennedy enthusiast who is super-excited about the presidential visit and his chance to catch the event on his new film camera. Not nearly as interesting is Zac Efron as the doctor who worked on the dying Kennedy, and Marcia Gay Harden as a nurse.

Billy Bob Thornton scowls a lot as a confused security agent, while Jacki Weaver is irritating as Oswald’s mom. Oswald, played by Jeremy Strong, is reduced to little more than a cameo.

Had Landesman chosen to focus on fewer characters, this might’ve worked. As it stands, there’s too much going on. A true cinematic effort about Oswald, his family and the devastation that followed the assassination would make for an interesting picture. Perhaps somebody will make that movie in the future.

Special Features: You get a director’s commentary and some wisely deleted scenes.

One reply on “Blu-Ray Review: JFK-Assassination Drama ‘Parkland’ Is Too Scattered to Work”

  1. One of the nicer reviews of Tom Hanks’ fairy-tale movie Parkland reads like this: “Awkward, incoherent and plodding, Parkland doubles back on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy…[the] script is the work of novice director Peter Landesman, an investigator journalist…but amateur filmmaker.”

    This raises several disturbing questions: 1) Peter Landesman is an investigative journalist? Calling Landesman an investigative journalist is like calling me the Queen of England, and I am neither stuffy, nor royal nor prissy; 2) Peter Landesman is an investigative journalist?

    Landesman needed a special obliviousness to avoid bumping into evidence of conspiracy while documenting a case that reeks of conspiracy. One of the characters in Landesman’s film Forrest Sorrels (played by Billy Bob Thornton) told his good friend Orville Nix that he thought shots had come from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll. This is conveniently excluded from the film, and its significance cannot be overstated. Sorrels was head of the Secret Service’s Dallas field office. Orville Nix took a film of the assassination which shows flashes of light (rifle fire) from behind the picket fence at the time of the shooting. Certainly Sorrels scrutinized Nix’s film and saw the same thing; somehow, Landesman left this out of his script.

    There were reports of Secret Service agents flashing credentials to witnesses and police officers right after the shooting; Sorrels knew of these reports and also knew there were NO Secret Service agents on the ground near Dealey Plaza at the time of the shooting. So just who were these impostors? No word from Landesman.

    His film should be called “Parkland Omissions,” because of the thousands of facts Landesman overlooks; one is the testimony of Dr. Malcolm Perry who performed a tracheostomy on JFK and stated that the neck wound was one of entrance, indicating shots from the front. Landesman dodges, evades and neglects this and many other facts. He is a circus clown, performing at the whim of Tom Hanks, grandmaster of the Parkland charade.

    Another Parkland doctor, Robert McClelland, who is still alive in Dallas, has never changed his story of what he saw that day–a large exit wound on the back of JFK’s head. So Peter, if Oswald is shooting from behind, how is the exit wound where Dr. McClelland placed it?

    It is a historical fact that all Parkland doctors and nurses saw evidence of frontal bullet entry wounds on JFK. Hanks, Landesman, and all their prevarications and their Orwellian rewrites can never alter this immutable truth.

    Tim Fleming

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