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Parkland: Billy Bob Thornton

Here’s a first look at the trailer for “Parkland,” a feature film that recounts the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Even though it’s a dramatization, it’s chilling and realistic!

Like everyone else of a certain age, I can remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot: I was a young kid in school, and my chemistry class were interrupted by a message on the loudspeaker from the principal, who in a solemn voice announced the President’s death. Everyone went numb.

I remember a bunch of usually rambunctious kids walking quietly out of their schoolroom, some crying, all in what I now recognize as shock. All classes were suspended for the rest of the day and everyone went home and became glued to their television sets. If you’ve lived through it, the memory of the feeling of disbelief, sadness and shock returns to you as soon as you recall that horrible day.

From the press release and what I can observe on the trailer, “Parkland” seems to weave together the viewpoints of the ordinary people thrust into circumstances that come unexpectedly out of nowhere as the President is shot, including the perspective of the Parkland Hospital doctors and nurses who tried to save his life.

There’s an unwitting cameraman who got caught up in recording the momentous historical event; the FBI agents who nearly had the gunman but initially let him out of their grasp; JFK’s security team; witnesses to both the President’s death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s rise to power; and the reaction of the stunned country.

Zac Efron in Parkland

The ensemble cast includes Billy Bob Thornton (“Sling Blade”), James Badge Dale (“Shame,” “Flight”), Zac Efron (“The Paperboy,” “At Any Price”), Jackie Earle Haley (“Little Children,” “Watchmen”), Ron Livingston (“The Conjuring”), Marcia Gay Harden (“Mystic River”), and Paul Giamatti (“Cinderella Man”).

Efron plays the inexperienced doctor whose daunting task it is to try and save the President’s life. I admit, it’s hard for me to see him in this role since watching him in “The Paperboy,” where he spent most of the film in his underpants.

Jacki Weaver, who received an Oscar nomination for her supporting roles in both “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Animal Kingdom” may just win the little golden statuette this time for her turn as Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother.

“Parkland” is based on the 2007 book “Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” by Vincent Bugliosi.

Written and directed by Peter Landesman, it’s produced by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, Bill Paxton and Exclusive Media’s Nigel Sinclair and Matt Jackson,

Look for “Parkland” to arrive in theaters Oct. 4, 2013.

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