Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Today's first movie is Parkland (2013, PG-13, Available On DVD).
Many of you will recognize this name immediately because it's the hospital in Dallas where President Kennedy was taken after he was shot.
President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive in Dallas. Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) takes his place along the motorcade route with his motion picture camera, and then takes his place in history. Doris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden) is a nurse at Parkland Hospital who remains calm while everyone around her, at first, is too shocked to take action. Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale) faces the shame of his brother Lee Harvey Oswald's actions. Their mother, Marguerite Oswald (Jacki Weaver), revels in the attention heaped on her family. A host of other well-known actors also appear in the movie, including Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, and Jackie Earle Haley.
All of these characters come together to portray the assassination of a president on November 22, 1963. This movie isn't about conspiracy theories or solving crimes. It's about chaos.
I felt quite touched by Paul Giamatti's performance. Zapruder is reluctant to allow anyone to see the footage that depicts the actual shooting. Marcia Gay Harden is also quite good. She's the kind of take charge nurse I like.
I am a bit amused, however, by the disclaimer at the conclusion of the movie. From the Internet Database: Although based on a true story and depicting real-life people the end credits state: "All characters in this film are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."
Although we see President Kennedy in news footage from that day, an actor is credited as portraying the president. I guess the actor plays the corpse.
Parkland is not a brilliant movie, but it's interesting and moving. I don't think I'd show it to children––it would be too confusing for them––but I would definitely watch it with teens and be prepared to explain the action and to talk about the ubiquity of the question among multiple generations: Where were you when you found out President Kennedy had been shot?
Parkland earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.
Our companion documentary is JFK: One PM Central Standard Time (2013, TV-PG, Available On DVD and Netflix Streaming). Narrated by George Clooney, this show should be available from multiple outlets.
The photo representing this movie on Netflix says "PBS." The above photo, from the Internet Movie Database, states that it's part of the "Secrets of the Dead" series, which is on PBS. IMDb also notes the following: Shown in Britain on 22 November 2013 as a one-off special under the title "JFK - News of a Shooting" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Whence it came, it's an interesting documentary that, similar to Parkland, is about chaos. But in this case, the chaos revolves around reporting what had occurred in Dallas, with a special focus on CBS News and Walter Cronkite.
The documentary is filled with fascinating details; i.e., Walter Cronkite had to make the initial TV report that the president had been shot from a radio booth because no camera was available in the newsroom. After the camera was obtained, it took about 30 minutes for it to warm up so Cronkite could go on the air. The show his report interrupted was As The World Turns.
Cronkite had been a wire service reporter. He absolutely would not report something unless it was confirmed by official sources. His behavior was so different from that of today's so-called television journalists and all their speculation. They seem to be hired, for the most part, for their affability and good looks, or sometimes their anger with the totality of humankind.
Thus, in spite of information coming in from reporters on the scene, including Dan Rather, Cronkite began his stint on the air by stating that three shots had been fired at the presidential motorcade (see news clip below). Cronkite gradually released more information as he received it.
Quite a few journalists who were in Dallas that day present their recollections. One woman (I'm sorry; I don't know her name) says the press car arrived at the hospital before the president's car. A Kennedy aide revealed immediately that President Kennedy was dead. (In Parkland, doctors discover a faint pulse that leads to a desperate attempt to resuscitate the president.)
Priests were called in to give the president the Last Rites. As they left, they revealed that Kennedy was dead. Finally, a spokesperson for The White House held a press conference to confirm that President Kennedy was dead. After that confirmation, Cronkite reported the president's death.
At the news conference, the time of death is set at 1 p.m., although no one actually knew what time Kennedy "officially" died.
Again, I don't recommend this film for children, but if you are so inclined, then you should watch it with teens. You may be astonished by some of the details you learn.
JFK: One PM Central Standard Time earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval and Appreciation for Disseminating Information.
I am tempted to watch Dead Poets Society this weekend, but I don't know if I'm ready for it yet.
Infinities of love,
I took a class on assassinations back in the day and have always been especially interested in the Kennedy assassination so these films will be going on my list. Funny, I was thinking of watching Dead Poets Society, too, since it's one of Williams signature pieces.ReplyDelete
A class on assassinations sounds very interesting. Dead Poets is my favorite Robin Williams film.Delete
Great rundown of these two films, Janie. I remember the day very well, as do most people, and we were all glued to the TV waiting for Cronkite to update us on what was going on. I'd say that day (or several days) put the reality of terrorists in my mind forever.ReplyDelete
I was four years old. I don't remember learning that the president was dead, which is kind of odd because I remember the funeral procession on TV and I know my mom would have been watching As The World Turns.Delete
Hi, Janie! I spent November 22, 2013 in tears, the same emotional state I was in that black Friday 50 years earlier. During the week marking the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination I watched documentaries on the subject, original broadcasts of the events as they unfolded that day in Dallas and the movie Killing Kennedy starring Rob Lowe with a surprisingly convincing performance by Michelle Tractenberg as Marina Oswald. Films or documentaries about the JFK assassination dredge up a lot of pain, bitterness and anger. Nevertheless, I am drawn to them like a moth to flame, perhaps because I am still trying to fully understand how and why it happened.ReplyDelete
That disclaimer at the end of Parkland is indeed puzzling. I suppose producers of docudramas that contain unsubstantiated situations and dialogue need to cover their behinds.
The live TV coverage of the assassination by Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and other news icons is very familiar to me because I have watched it many times over the years. Nevertheless, I would like to see One PM Central because, as a former TV newsman, I have a keen interest in learning how a breaking story of that magnitude was handled.
Thank you for these reviews, dear Janie, and enjoy the rest of your day!
I don't know if I've seen Killing Kennedy. I need to check on that. I still miss Uncle Walter. One PM Central is fascinating because it brings together the recollections of a multitude of people on how the story unfolded.Delete
That is a funny disclaimer!ReplyDelete
I don't think I'd want to watch any Robin Williams movies so soon. I'd need about five boxes of tissues!
I decided I'm not ready for Dead Poets Society yet. Maybe in a few weeks or a few months.Delete
Parkland sounds like an interesting movie. I read the Stephen King book where a man went back in time to stop the assassination. It was an interesting take on things! The book was called 11/22/63.ReplyDelete
I liked Parkland. That Stephen King book sounds interesting. I've never read much Stephen King, in spite of his huge popularity.Delete
Two very interesting presentations about a very different and difficult day. I was in my last year of high school. I remember us being told.ReplyDelete
And the loss of Robin Williams. So very sad — both his illness and his decision to do something to end that. I understand his situation. Been there; almost did that.
Blessings and Bear hugs, Janie!
The same to you, Bear. It's been a sad week.Delete
Mrs. Chatterbox said the same thing about Dead Poet's Society. Like you, I don't know if I'm ready.ReplyDelete
I decided I'm not ready yet.Delete
I'm drawn to all the documentaries that dissect the historical events, item by item, person by person. I often wonder if we'll ever know what really happened in most of these cases.ReplyDelete
Not knowing is frustrating, but it's a fact of life. I doubt if we'll ever really know what happened that day in Dallas. I try not to think about mysteries and conspiracy theories because they drive me nuts.Delete
I don't think I ever heard of Parkland. However, I do remember the assassination since I was a senior in hs. It was a very sad time.ReplyDelete
I don't remember if Netflix told me I would like Parkland or if I saw a trailer for it on a DVD. If Netflix told me, then they were right.Delete
Dear Janie, thank you once again for your movie reviews. I used to know how to use the DVD player connected to the TV but the last time I got a movie from the library I couldn't remember. It had been a year or so since my last viewing of a movie that way.ReplyDelete
So this weekend, I hope my niece, with whom I'm going out to lunch on Saturday, will look at the tv and DVD player and clue me in onto what I need to be doing. When that happens I'm going to check out some Robin Williams movies and also the JFK movie that was your second review in this posting. Peace.
Willy Dunne Wooters bought a DVD player for the TV room. When I needed to watch something in the family room, I couldn't remember how to use the DVR or the DVD player. I had to play around with them and search for various remotes before I got them to work.Delete
I've been drawn to any specials or movie about JFK's assassination. I remember watching the janitor lowering the flag in front of the junior high and wondering why he was doing that...and then they announced it over the intercom. I was 12 years old in the eighth grade. We were glued to the TV for days and it was on every channel back then. Shocked by the killing of Oswald right after that (and Ruby suddenly dying later right before his trial, for that matter). John-John saluting tore your heart out. I had Parkland in my queue, but I will watch the other one on streaming, for sure!ReplyDelete
We probably only had two channels. I remember the funeral procession playing over and over.Delete
I think we had four or five, including PBS. And even PBS was covering it, too.Delete
Wow! You had a wide choice of TV channels. And now we have hundreds.Delete
My grandparents took me to the place where JFK was killed. On the sidewalks, its all marked in white paint of the path that the car took and where he was shot at. The building that the shooter was in, is now a museum of everything that had happened. It was surreal to see. I don't remember very much now though. I would like to go back to see it again.ReplyDelete
If you ever have a chance to go to Boston to see the JFK Presidential Library, take advantage of the opportunity. It's interesting, and it's in a beautiful spot.Delete
Dear Janie, thanks for the suggestions as to what I might do. I've ended up not going to lunch with my niece so I need to try to do this on my own. I seem to have the gastro-intestinal something that's going away. So no lunch in a Thai restaurant for me! Peace.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry you couldn't go to lunch. Please ask for help if you need it. Getting divorced taught me to experiment when I can't get something to work. I never experiment far enough to break anything, though.Delete
I would like to see Parkland for the great cast alone. Walter Kronkite was a great newsman, and you could see how difficult it was for him to deliver the tragic news. Today as I was switching channels, I saw that Dead Poets Society was on. Unfortunately, I only caught the last twenty minutes. Robin Williams should've also won an award for that movie.ReplyDelete
I felt quite impressed by Parkland. Although it moves quickly from one character to another, it was never confusing. The last 20 minutes of Dead Poets Society is the best part.Delete
Well, I watched THIS show the other day. Robin Williams was fantastic. The reality of his death still has to sink in.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the link. I'm sure some readers will feel better if they click on it.Delete
"All characters in this film are fictional...."ReplyDelete
Talk about CYA.
It's ridicurous, as Franklin says.Delete