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Growing Up

Parkland marks the first time Zac Efron has been seen smoking and covered in blood on film.

After a very recent theatrical run (review here), Peter Landesman's Parkland hits shelves this week via Millenium Entertainment.  Utilitzing a great ensemble cast and a vast amount of arhival footage, the film manages to be suprisingly tense considering the audience is well aware of the eventual conclusion.  Although I don't see a whole lot of replay value in Parkland, that shouldn't scare off interested viewers from seeing this well-acted historical drama.

As most readers probably already know, Parkland revolves around the infamous day of November 22, 1963 and the immediate days after.  Within one hour of arriving in Dallas, President Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcoach traveled through Dealey Plaza.  The film is fractured into several different stories concerning people in Dallas directly affected by the tragedy.  Those people include the staff of Parkland Hospital (Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden), clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), members of the Oswald family (James Badge Dale, Jacki Weaver), and various FBI/Secret Service agents (Ron Livingston, Billy Bob Thornton).  Other small roles include Jackie Earle Haley as Parkland's on-call pastor and Mark Duplass as a member of the President's entourage.

The dream ensemble assembled for Parkland does a spectacular job.  Special praise is deserved for both Giamatti and Livingston whose often underappreciated work isn’t heralded enough.  Efron is also surprising effective as a doctor – something I wasn’t really expecting to believe prior to seeing the film.  The use of archival footage is hit and miss.  Old news and radio pieces fit in well with the story and its characters while other footage, like the Zapruder film, are inserted in a rather tacky manner and play like a miniseries that might air on cable.  The DVD isn’t loaded with special features, but it does include a commentary track from the director and a handful of deleted scenes.  I’m not usually fond of one-man commentaries, but Landesman keeps things interesting by dispersing information about both the actual tragedy and the filming itself.  Parkland is required viewing for those who lived through the experience or anyone with a general interest in history.  Highly Recommended.

Cody Endres
Review by Cody Endres
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