I’m sitting here burning the midnight oil, finally finishing up my Parkland movie review. I honestly didn’t know if I would ever get this done because I’ve been at deaths door; last week right after I started reviewing the movie and writing this blog, my illness went nuclear, so I had to stop writing. I had to stop pretty much of everything for that matter because I was in as close to a coma like state as you can get, sleeping 20 hours a day and when I wasn’t sleeping it was a chore to stay awake, focused or coherent but there’s nothing I hate more than pissing off my very few but loyal readers, so here goes. Just be warned if it sucks, it’s because it’s been a slow process digging my way out of the grave or at least enough so to write this stunning review……. So, I FINALLY got a chance to watch the amazing movie Parkland a few weeks ago. I had been so excited that Tom Welling was returning to acting, as so many of his other fans were, that I literally went crazy over this movie on my Facebook, Twitter etc. and got everyone of my friends and family interested in the movie whether they liked Tom or not. Even with my intense social and anxiety disorders I told myself I was gonna get out of the house and see this movie no matter what.
Guess what? On October 4th, the day the movie was supposed to open to the general public I went to Fandango to buy my tickets like everyone else. It wasn’t playing at the big theater right down the road from me, so I was like OK maybe it is at one of the smaller artsy type theaters because it is a smaller film with a targeted audience…um, yeah NO. The film was showing in TWO THEATERS in my state. For some people this isn’t that big of an issue although it really should be. You shouldn’t have to drive 200 fucking miles to see a god damned movie with a bunch of Oscar winners, fan favorites and an up and coming star/otherwise known as every little girl’s wet dream ;) With that many amazing and beloved Oscar winning and nominated actors, you would think they would have the movie showing all over the place. I mean just adding up the fan bases of the major characters alone should have been enough to get a wide release but noooooooo that would mean something was actually going right in my life for once. Aside from all of that, after my three brain surgeries I am not allowed to drive because I still have the tiniest of teeny tiny seizures and my doctor will not clear me until I can prove I am not having seizures blah blah blah….so unless the movie or whatever is a cab ride away, I am not seeing it and Exclusive media fucking sucks for that reason alone. I decided to do what any true obsessed fan who can’t find the movie anyplace else would do and who absolutely cannot wait another month for the DVD; I found it and downloaded it on the internet. Do I feel guilty about it? Yeah a little but it wasn’t for lack of trying to find this fucking movie at a theater near me. But back to my review ~
If you didn’t know Parkland isn’t your normal conspiracy theory movie. There are no grassy knolls or any other kind of bullshit. What there IS, is some brilliant story telling but I guess it is not really telling a story per-say it is re-telling it in an entertaining and moving way. The story being told is not about some cover up; it’s about real people, the people that had to deal with this giant shitstorm that day and the fallout of the days after. It was emotional and made me feel something that I just didn’t expect to feel when I was watching it. Even moi, heartless old Nan shed a few tears here and there…. I was surprised in the fact that actual footage from the day of the assassination was used in the movie, so that had a strange effect on me. It was almost like being there and experiencing that day like so many people in my life had experienced it. Being a child of the 60’s, I have plenty of people that remember exactly what they were doing when word came of Kennedy’s death. My ex-husband for one was just getting ready to have his tonsils taken out and they had the radio on in the waiting room. A nurse rushed in and everything stopped, He said they all just put their heads down and cried. Needless to say my ex didn’t have his tonsils removed that day. Out of something so terrible a country came together on a single day in one tragic moment in time. I don’t think America has suffered that kind of shock, sadness and loss that would bring them together in the same way for another 38 years, which was when the Twin Towers fell.
*FROM HERE ON OUT THERE ARE SPOILERS*
I don’t want people to think “OK well she told us about the movie (some of which was already in the trailer) we don’t need to go see it” You will be sorry you didn’t if you like any of the actors in this film. They are all exceptional :)
The movie starts right in with the actual footage of Kennedy greeting the crowds and you realize just then by the looks on their faces and just the general feeling of it all what a truly magnanimous man he was. The footage blends seamlessly back and forth with the new scenes at Parkland Memorial Hospital with the incomparable Marcia Gay Harden as nurse Doris Nelson and Zac Efron as Resident doctor Jim Carrico just getting ready for another day. The movie then goes on to show you some of the key places and characters of the movie, first focusing on Paul Giamatti
playing the character Abraham Zapruder famous for shooting the only footage of that day and capturing the horror of the assassination and something he would have to live with for the rest of his life. We see the local FBI Office next and Special Agent James Hosty which definitely seems to revere President Kennedy and is very excited about his visit although he seems to get teased a bit by his co-workers for it. We see his boss Gordon Shanklin as well letting everyone know this is the Secret Services job and to report to them if they see anything worrisome. For just a moment they show Robert Oswald at his place of employment I think to show
that he was basically a regular guy. He and his whole office were listening to the radio while they were working as they turn the broadcast up and then the movie changes to actual footage of Love Field. Peter Landsman is so amazing the way he just goes back and forth from real footage to new, it is almost hard to tell what is what; the only way of really knowing, is that we of course know the brilliant actors playing the roles. They show some of the secret service agents and then come to Billy Bob Thornton who plays Forrest Sorrels, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Secret Service agency. He’s looking over everything and when asked if he will be OK, he says “Oh yeah, it’s gonna be a good program”. Little did he know just what kind of day he was in for. We then get introduced briefly to Dealy Plaza as Abraham Zapruder is trotting down, trying to find the perfect place to film the President’s motorcade with his new 8 mm camera. Zapruder finds the “perfect spot” on top of a pedestal and starts getting the camera ready to film. We see a scene in the hospital that encompasses the main feeling of admiration and love one of the nurses had for the Kennedy’s, there was no doubt the majority of Americans no matter who they were or what political party they were affiliated with were enamored with them or “Camelot” as they and their family were often referred to.
We go back and forth from real footage of the motorcade to Zapruder filming and shots being fired with that look of horror on his face when he realized what he had just filmed. Just typing this sends chills up my spine. The acting was so amazing and Paul Giamatti transformed himself into this character making me believe every second of it, like I was right there with him. There is a reason he is an Oscar winner, he is amazing. The movie then switches to the hospital which is totally clueless to what has just happened. The secretaries are gossiping about something or another and when they answer the switchboard, they were so totally ignorant about what the call was about, all they really knew is that it was a VIP, the president. We then focus
on the ER where they just assume the president is coming in with the flu or something because no one has told them anything. As much as I wanted to break down each character and actor that played them, I just don’t have enough time and this would be the longest blog ever, so I am just going to focus on some standout performances. This is not to say that everyone in the movie wasn’t fantastic. I mean we are talking about some amazing actors like Marcia Gay Harden and Ron Livingston to name a few but there were key performances that for me just made the movie even better and so I am focusing on them for now, although I DO have to give Ron Livingston a shout out for The Conjuring, which I watched on Halloween; now THAT was creepy as fuck but, I digress. The first actor I want to talk about naturally is Tom Welling, even though he is not the first big name to grace the screen in the movie, he IS the reason I became
interested in it at all, so we have to give credit where credit is due and give him props for giving me the opportunity to see such an awesome movie with the most amazing, moving true to life performances I have seen on screen in a while. After we hear the shots, we see the cars all speeding up to the hospital and get our first glimpse of Tom playing agent Roy Kellerman in charge of the White House Secret Service detail. He is first seen in the car where it looks like he is shielding the slain president’s body with his and is leaning in towards Jacki. We then see him again outside the car getting emotional about what has happened and then finally we see him lifting Kennedy’s body from the car and putting it on the stretcher and then wheeling it into the hospital with several other secret service agents. What can I say about all of this but his whole performance was moving and truly convincing. Now I know a lot of you are going to just say, “Oh she has a thing for Tom Welling, she thinks he’s hot yada yada yada” you know what? You are completely right, I think he’s a fucking rock star as Peter Landesman so eloquently pointed out in the interview down at the bottom of the page BUT this was something different. The man I saw on the screen wasn’t Clark Kent, He wasn’t that kid from Cheaper by the Dozen or the hot guy from the Fog, not that he was a bad actor in any of those shows/movies, but the caliber of this movie was just different. This was a REAL actor with real potential and he belonged right there with all of those Oscar winners and nominees. He may have had a small part but his parts were amazing and moving. There were nuances that felt so real I didn’t even catch them until I watched it the second and third time to write this blog, When the doctor went to put the tracheotomy in, he had to turn away but it was the mix of squeamishness and devastation in that single moment that sold it. When the president was lying there dead and they brought in the coffin, he truly looked despondent like he wanted to cry but he couldn’t because he was the one who had to hold it and everyone together. That is something I am sure the real agent Kellerman actually felt at that time. God knows I’ve seen plenty of actors that couldn’t fake it as well as Tom did. Then when he wanted to take the president back home and that asshole of a medical examiner tried to keep him, Tom as Roy Kellerman got pissed and took that scene and the president by force. Hell, I got pissed…I was like “Oh no you didn’t just mess with my boy Tom” but then again I’m a little nuts so whatever, back to Tom… When he shoved the driver out of the way and said you’re not driving and got in the car, I was like YES. It was clear that Roy Kellerman once again took charge on a day that it would have been impossible for most people to think, let alone take care of the situation at hand. As they were loading the coffin onto Air force One, they couldn’t get it around an existing wall that was there so Roy just grabbed a hack saw and sawed and broke that wall away so they could complete their mission to get the president back home and when he said they had never lost a president on their watch before, it was sad and you had some realization of what these people endured. Tom did everything you would expect from an A list actor (even though he is not technically considered one yet), he got it right and made you feel it like you were right there with him. I actually cried a little when he was standing over the President’s coffin remarking it was the first time the secret service had lost a president under its watch. He had an expression on his face of disillusionment, regret and sadness. The emotion he expressed was just painful….but in a good way. The next person I want to focus on is Zac Efron because he did an amazing job in his performance as well and quite honestly a few short months before I couldn’t understand why on earth they would cast him in a movie like this. I even went as far to ask if this was a musical version of the JFK assassination. Yeah it was bitchy but yeah that’s me…get over it. What I know now is that Zac is a decent little actor, plus he has a hot body but don’t get me started with that ;) Knowing he was playing an important role in this movie I thought I would go investigate what the hell they saw in Zac Efron that I hadn’t yet. I had already seen Charlie St. Cloud and yeah, I’ll give him credit, it was good and the acting was decent but I wanted to see something more. I read somewhere that Landesman had seen Zac in the Paperboy, honestly I don’t know if that’s true, but I wanted to go and check it out for myself plus I love Nicole Kidman and John Cusack so it was a win win for me either way :) I watched the movie and was blown away because this wasn’t the little Zac Efron that we had known for singing a bunch of super lame songs in “high school”. This kid was really good and it was right then that I knew he was going to be perfect in this movie as well. Zac played Jim Carrico the resident doctor on staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital the day of the shooting. The first scene we see of him is in the lounge taking a call to go to the ER. The next major shot is when nurse Doris comes to tell him they have a patient coming in. Not realizing it is the president he says” I’m busy” and goes about his work. She says It’s the president and he says “he probably has the flu”. When they wheel the president in and everyone is screaming and he realizes the enormity of the situation, he asks where the attending physician is and is told he IS the doctor for the moment. The sheer terror expressed on his face looks real when it’s obvious he is going to have to take charge of the situation but then as any good doctor would he snaps out of it and gets right to work. His “doctor speak” was good, very convincing and all his movements seemed like he could actually be a doctor….not just playing one on TV :) He was almost elated when he found that the President had a heartbeat for a moment, I think Jim Carrico thought he might be able to save him for a second. When the attending physician came in he pretty much took charge but after tireless efforts to save the president it just wasn’t going to happen. The look of devastation on Zac’s face again was heart wrenching and convincing to say the least, he embodied a doctor who looked as though he had never lost a patient before let alone someone of that magnitude. Zac played this role well and has caused me to take notice in what he may or may not be doing next.
Collin Hanks who played attending physician Malcolm Perry always surprises me with every role he takes although I guess his stellar acting ability shouldn’t surprise any of us, being son of a king in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t just handed everything to him; he worked for it, sometimes in shitty shows and sometimes in less than great movies but his acting was always pretty good. I’ve seen him in a few things but my absolute favorite has to be when he played Travis Marshall on Dexter. The complexity of which he played the character was outstanding. Suffering from severe psychosis, he brought out a dark side of his personality that seemed omnipotent and almost all season the fans and Dexter thought it was Dr. Gellar (who was dead and just in Travis’s head) committing these crimes or making Travis commit them. That role was so good and after that I knew that the word nepotism was nowhere in this guys vocabulary, he gets jobs based on talent and talent alone. When I saw he was in this movie that his father’s production company Playtone was making, I was more than pleased and couldn’t wait to see what he would do with the role. When all of the drama was ensuing in the ER, Dr. Perry was chilling with his fellow doctors in the break room. A medical
assistant rushed in and said he’s needed and he told him “I’ll be there in five”. The medical assistant says you’re needed NOW. He just gives him a look, as all of the sudden every doctor is being paged at the same time to the ER and they are all baffled. He just says I’ll go, not realizing what the hell he is getting into. When he gets to the scene, he is a little shocked but jumps in right away as any true professional would do. Once again his scenes were flawless and I was totally convinced this man was a real doctor. At the end we saw him doing everything humanly possible to save Kennedy but it was the fact that just days later Lee Harvey Oswald was brought in after being shot that showed the human component and integrity of the man. He definitely took the Hippocratic oath to heart of first, do no harm. When they are working on Oswald, there comes a point where he said “we might actually save this one” and as agent Sorrels looks on waiting for his confession, another surgical assistant looks over and says “Do we want to?” This prompts Dr. Perry to work harder on him to no avail unfortunately. Lee Harvey Oswald was no longer for this world and no confession was ever received.
Billy Bob Thornton played Forrest Sorrels, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Secret Service agency. As I said before he thought they were gonna have a good program that day, well they got a show that no one was prepared to deal with. I’ve loved Billy Bob in just about everything he has been in, no one can forget Sling Blade, he was brilliant in that movie and probably remembered for the most of any of the movies he’s been in. I even kind of loved Bad Santa but then again I am one of those girls that deserves a lump of coal in her stocking so what can you expect? You saw Billy Bob in bits throughout the movie but when he viewed the film of the assassination, that’s when he really came to life. One of the “suits” told him he blew it and he just came unglued. He screamed “Shut up” “Did you see that”? “We blew it?” “That wasn’t a damned Easter parade that was the president of the United States, do you understand me?” “You think we need your God damned opinion about anything?” “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and I have never lost my man, this was not supposed to happen, yesterday I lost my man.” and with that one little speech we might have seen one of the most powerful moments of the movie. In the movie, he is transformed, I mean more so than just about anyone else, he looks the part, he looks like he could walk into a time machine and step out in 1963 and fit right in. As convincing as everyone was in the movie with emotions and everything there is always just something in most period dramas that make you feel like you’re not really watching history. It wasn’t bad with this film, in fact it was barely noticeable but as far as Billy Bob’s part, he WAS 1963.
Paul Giamatti played Abraham Zapruder who is another fantastic actor who’s been in too many awesome movies to count. Could he have said no to Lady in the Water? Yeah maybe, but I have actually seen worse films and the guy got his acting degree at Yale, yeah that’s right I said freaking Yale. Who does that? Awesome people that’s who :) Zapruder was all over this movie, having the misfortune of capturing the ONLY footage of the president and his assassination on film made him a most wanted man. In the beginning we see him so joyous about getting to get up close to film the president’s visit and it is made clear later in the film that his father had brought them over as immigrants and he was very proud to live an American life and everything that goes along with it. This day embodied everything that being an American meant, or it was supposed to before everything went horribly wrong. Everybody wanted to see what was on that Belle and Howell 8MM camera but the problem was nobody knew how to develop it properly. He ended up finding a Kodak processing lab that could develop the film and made three copies, one for the secret service, one for the FBI and originally, one for himself. Heartbroken, despondent and forever changed, Zapruder ended up selling his copy and all rights to the film to LIFE magazine for $150,000 (which today would be about 1.1 million) with the explicit demand that they leave the kill shot out. He said “Something’s the world does not need to see; we are talking about a dignified man, this is a very undignified end for a very dignified man”. He was heartbroken dejected and forever changed, and Giamatti as usual made it seem all too real.
Jacki Weaver played Marguerite Oswald; You know I have seen Jacki Weaver in at least five different things and I never really realized she was the same person. I guess this is a credit to her acting. The only thing I can say about Marguerite Oswald was that she was bat shit crazy. Weaver drew you in from the first moment on screen and you didn’t know whether to feel sorry for Marguerite for being so crazy or to just hate her for being well; so crazy and ignorant. She had it in her mind that her son Lee was an American agent or spy or something when the reality is he was a screwed up man who couldn’t find his place in the world calling himself a revolutionary that tried to defect to Russia, who basically threw him back because they didn’t want him. I don’t know if he told her he was with the government or if she just made that up in her own mind to justify his atrocities but the way Weaver brought this character to life was actually a little terrifying. She felt like it was her time to shine and profit from the story of being the woman who spawned the man who assassinated the president of the united states. When she found out her son had died she had the audacity to
suggest that he be buried at Arlington national cemetery alongside of the president. She was maniacal and narcissistic and for a split second you get an insight to how Lee Harvey Oswald could have been a complete monster although I still don’t understand shooting the president because you feel like someone is “threatening” your wife. It’s not like they were going to deport her, Hosty just went to see if she was alright when he thought she was being knocked around. There were a few things about the movie that I didn’t love but not many. It seemed to cut back and forth from place to place and I suppose they could have taken more time but all in all it was a good movie and that wasn’t enough to really bother me that much. I still don’t understand why there aren’t tons of rave reviews out there, there were a few but not as many as I would have thought. With so many great actors who gave amazing performances, I am not sure why people and critics weren’t jizzing themselves over this. I mean the acting is there, the story is there and it has powerful visuals …what is more exciting than the realness of it all, I mean when it is actual reality and not some fabricated bullshit made up for TV called reality but let’s not go there. This movie was exciting and enlightening, moving and heartbreaking. It was acted beautifully and to me just seemed really well made for the most part. It was convincing, I mean I was convinced and I am a picky bitch when it comes to movies; even IF I watch some of the shittiest movies known to mankind (Twilight) but seriously…I was truly convinced and I felt like I was back in time for that hour and a half.
One thing that kind of pisses me off is the amount of comments and Facebook posts I see from people that are freaking out about historical mistakes and inaccuracies etc. They talk about not having time to put Jackie’s pill box hat and the flowers on Kennedy’s body before they wheel him in on the gurney and the way they rush Johnson in the hospital, even the size and which room they take him in. OK, first off, this was NOT a documentary it was a movie and movies are made to entertain. Although the movie was based in reality, the director still had a responsibility to make the movie entertaining to some degree, I mean seriously when was the last time anyone went out of their way to go see a documentary? Hey more power to you if that’s your thing but being an ass and trying to discredit this on every forum and place you can comment because you don’t agree with the way it is made? Go make your own damn film and see if anyone goes to see it if you can scrounge up the 10 million or know anything about directing a film. I suppose that throughout history I have bought into the conspiracy at one point or another, I mean as fucked up and shady as our government is who couldn’t believe they are capable BUT watching this movie put a lot of things into perspective and made a lot more sense than trying to grab at who done its, maybes and nefarious schemes, so for the people ranting on Facebook or where ever about Oliver Stone’s version being sooo much better, yeah whatever. No one cares, go to his fansite and jizz out, don’t go and attack other fans for their opinions…just go away AND if you want to get in a pissing match with me?? Go ahead and try; I’m ALWAYS up for a good argument and rarely ever lose :) People talking it down without knowing their head from their ass, some critics not even giving it a chance and the
distribution debacle has made this seem like an abysmal failure in box office receipts so far. They are a fraction of production costs but like I said most of it lays in the distributors hands and like I said they suck dick and did a shitty job getting this movie out to the masses. I am curious what the numbers could have been had the movie even shown in 4 or 5 cities in my state, in every state for that matter. It is the ONE complaint I read the most, is that no one got to see it in their town and it is now coming straight to DVD. I guarantee that fans would have gladly paid to see it in theaters AND bought the DVD because each of these amazing, Oscar winning and nominated actors have their own individual fan bases, not to mention people seeing it because they love history, were a fan of the book, fan of Peter Landesman or wanted to see it just because Tom Hank’s produced it and everything he touches turns to gold, maybe they are just a Kennedy buff or just like good dramas. Had this movie been marketed correctly, it could have made more money and what sucks about this is that in situations
like this, it seems like it falls on the actors shoulders when movies fail yet they have no control over who or how many people see it if the distributor is stupid. Case in point I read something online that mentioned the movie and Tom Welling in the same sentence…something along the lines of him failing to bring fans out to see his movie or some shit like that. OK first off, he is NOT the biggest star in this, second none of the actors did any more than Tom did to promote this movie, flying all over the world and to every festival to promote it, doing interview after interview and drawing HUGE crowds in the process. This was not Tom’s or any of the other actor’s faults; this is a distributing debacle and now they better just hope that there are people who want to purchase the DVD. I found it online to download; I also saw it posted on YouTube both of which are free. Most people aren’t like me; they won’t go out and buy something they can get for free. I will always support my favorite actors and so even though I already have it and am currently having financial difficulties, I will also be purchasing it as I hope the rest of the fans will do to support their favorite actors. The ONLY reason I got it for free in the first place was because some moron at a distribution company didn’t think more than 3 people in the state of Oregon or anyone outside of the Portland metro area would care about this movie…they were wrong. If you take nothing more away from this ~ at least go rent the movie and see for yourself (preferably buy it and support your favorite stars). I think most people who don’t have their heads up their asses will enjoy it. It may not be 100% historically accurate or whatever but I know Peter Landesman said he did over 3 years of research, so I am fairly certain he got quite a bit right and the people speaking out are just dumb asses who wouldn’t be happy if Kennedy had been resurrected just so they could re live the same horrible event and solve their precious and ever so lame conspiracy theories….
Peace, love, happiness and oh so much drooling over Tom Welling ~ until next time ;)