Oct. 2 2013 03:28 PM

Plodding JFK drama starring Zac Efron leads our rundown of films screening around town


"What a shitty place to die," utters a beleaguered secret-service agent (played with maximum seriousness by Mark Duplass) upon leaving Parkland Memorial Hospital with the body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in tow. He's speaking derogatorily about Texas, undoubtedly due to the rage he feels because of the president's sudden death. Still, there's an overt elitism in his words that is troubling. 

Peter Landesman's Parkland, a meek helping of historical revisionism that zeroes in on the experiences of bit players during and after the JFK assassination, doesn't do much to dissuade this representation of the South as ideologically (and morally) inferior. In fact, locals of all professions and demeanors, from doctors (Zac Efron) and nurses (Marcia Gay Harden) to the Dallas FBI field office, are seen as either obstacles to the government's response or just plain ignorant. 

One might chalk all this regional animosity up to the panic, guilt and anger filling the hearts of everyone involved with this nasty affair. But Landesman's simplistic treatment of certain characters signifies his disinterest in the social complexities of the event itself. Look no further for proof than the abrasive turn by Jacki Weaver as Lee Harvey Oswald's conniving snake of a mother.

The one character who survives Parkland's plodding script and gratuitous hand-held shooting style is Oswald's conflicted brother, thanks in large part to the talents of actor James Badge Dale. Unlike most of the supporting cast, Dale invokes an eerie sense of restraint in each of his scenes. 

Regarding the menacing threads of the JFK assassination, Parkland—which opens Friday, Oct. 4, at AMC La Jolla and AMC Palm Promenade in Otay Mesa West—only hints at cover-ups and conspiracy theories. These salacious digressions pop up at convenient times to promote angst and doubt in the minds of specific characters, only amplifying the film's remedial vision of history as a series of superficial dramatic moments. This is textbook hyperbole at its worst.


Blue Caprice: A dramatic re-telling of the story of two men responsible for the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings that claimed the lives of 10 people in October 2002. Screens through Oct. 10 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

German Currents Film Festival: San Diego's premiere showcase of German film returns with its third annual event, including opening night film Die Vermessung Der Welt (Measuring the World). Screenings take place Oct. 5 and 6 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. See germancurrentssd.org for details. 

Gravity: Sandra Bullock plays a marooned astronaut struggling to survive an epic space disaster in Alfonso Cuarón's breathless adventure film.

Night in the Woods: If you ever have a chance to go hiking in the woods with "friends" harboring pent-up emotional issues, don't.

Parkland: Intimately follows the lives of various people wrapped up in the events leading to and after the JFK assassination in Dallas, 1963. 

Runner Runner: Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake star in this thriller about a gambling prodigy who hunts down the gangster responsible for sending him to the poor house.

San Diego Film Festival: Festival fever hits the Gaslamp Quarter Oct. 2 through 6, where there will be an exciting slate of films, parties and panel discussions. Tributes to director Judd Apatow and actor Mariel Hemmingway are also planned. See sdfilmfest.com for details. 

When Comedy Went to School: A historical exploration of Jewish comedy featuring interviews with everyone from Larry King to Hugh Hefner. Screens through Oct. 10 at the Ken Cinema. 

One Time Only

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks: Documentary about the creation of Julian Assange's controversial website that went on to reveal crippling information about the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the new Central Library in East Village.

To Catch a Thief: Cary Grant stars as a reformed jewel thief who finds himself caught in the middle of a grand scheme to steal millions. Screens at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at Reading Town Square Cinemas in Clairemont. 

Children of Men: Clive Owen plays Theo, an apathetic drunk living in a dystopic world where women can no longer give birth, who gets embroiled in a violent revolutionary plot. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at Arclight La Jolla.

North by Northwest: Hitchcock. Cary Grant. Mt. Rushmore. This is a no-brainer. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 5, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.

Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50: A sequel to the original documentary about a pair of art dealers who, as a couple, have collected more than 5,000 pieces of art. Screens at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Rear Window: Jimmy Stewart looks out from his apartment window and witnesses what he believes to be a murder, only to become obsessed with solving the case despite imminent danger. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and Tuesday, Oct. 8, and at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at Reading Gaslmap Cinemas.

True Romance: Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette play a couple of low-life hustlers on the run from the mob, the police and just about everyone else with a gun. Screens at midnight on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Ken Cinema.

Inside: A female perpetrator with nefarious intentions terrorizes a pregnant woman in this extreme horror film from France. Screens at 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Meth Head: A young man hits rock bottom after falling prey to meth addiction. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Deep Sea: A glorious ocean exploration with Del Mar's own veteran underwater filmmakers and explorers, Howard and Michele Hall. Screens at noon on Monday, Oct. 7, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Arrive early for the Deep Sea Challenge Lecture at 10:30 a.m.

Wish You Were Here: Two couples on a breezy Australian vacation quickly turn on each other after incriminating secrets are revealed. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at the new Central Library in East Village.

Frenzy: Alfred Hitchcock's second-to-last film is a merciless serial-killer yarn about a wrongly accused man trying to prove his innocence while a psychopath terrorizes London. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at Reading Town Square Cinemas in Clairemont. 

Now Playing

Don Jon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and stars in this coming-of-age story about a young New Jersey lothario addicted to the fantasy world of pornography.

Enough Said: The latest slice of modern melodrama from director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give) features a mosaic of confused couples. Stars James Gandolfini in his last screen role.

Haute Cuisine: A fictional take on the story of Danièle Delpeuch, who was appointed as the private chef for François Mitterrand, the former president of France. Ends Oct. 3 at the Ken Cinema.

I am Divine: The definitive biographical portrait of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, who became a cinema icon in the controversial schlock films of John Waters. Screens through Oct. 2 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Inequality for All: Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich uses the documentary as platform to raise awareness of the country's widening economic gap.

On the Job: Corrupt officials in the Philippines use convicted prisoners to carry out public assassinations in order to cover their tracks in this high-octane thriller from director Erik Matti.

Out in the Dark: A Palestinian student falls in love with an Israeli lawyer in this topical gay drama from director Michael Mayer. Screens through Oct. 3 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Rush: Ron Howard's biopic about the bitter rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), who battled for track supremacy throughout the 1970s.

Wadjda: In this first film shot completely in Saudi Arabia, an enterprising Saudi girl competes in her school's Koran-recitation contest to raise the remaining funds she needs for a green bicycle that has captured her interest. 

Battle of the Year: Get your groove on with a bunch of fit young people competing for bragging rights in the ultimate dance competition.

Museum Hours: The Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna becomes the backdrop of a burgeoning friendship between a museum guard and Canadian woman visiting an estranged relative.

Prisoners: A desperate father (Hugh Jackman) takes the law into his own hands after his daughter disappears, despite the ongoing investigation by a dedicated police officer (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Salinger: An expansive and controversial look into the life of the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye

Thanks for Sharing: Romantic comedy about three friends who meet in a 12-step program for sex addicts. Awkwardness ensues. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Gwyneth Paltrow. 

You Will Be My Son: A father and son clash over the future of their prestigious vineyard in France. Ends Oct. 3 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

The Family: Robert De Niro's career continues to plummet in this dark comedy about a New York City family of mobsters living in France under false identities. 

Insidious Chapter 2: More horrific and ghostly images from director James Wan, the devious auteur behind Saw, The Conjuring and, of course, Insidious

Short Term 12: SDSU alum Dustin Cretton directs this award-winning film about the complex relationships populating a foster-care facility. Starring Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom).

Riddick: Vin Diesel returns as the titular criminal badass who must battle an alien race of predators and brutal mercenaries. 

Instructions Not Included: A smarmy playboy (Eugenio Derbez) gets a rude awakening when an ex-flame drops off a baby at his doorstep, forcing him to become an unlikely father figure.

Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation: The venerable edgy 'toon-fest has returned to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla location with a 20th-anniversary show that runs through Nov. 23.

The World's End: The creative team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz return with this sci-fi comedy about a group of estranged childhood friends who reunite for an epic pub-crawl, only to find a menacing alien presence occupying their home town.

In a World…: Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in this film about an underachieving vocal coach who makes a play at becoming a voiceover star, following in her famous father's footsteps. Ends Sept. 26 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

Lee Daniels' The Butler: Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) serves as a butler in the White House for seven consecutive presidents, witnessing shifts in civil rights and foreign policy from a fascinating vantage point. 

The Spectacular Now: An alcoholic high-school senior (Miles Teller) romances an inexperienced fellow student (Shailene Woodley) and inadvertently falls in love.

Elysium: After being diagnosed with a terminal disease, a factory worker (Matt Damon) attempts to infiltrate a manmade space habitat where the world's wealthy now live in permanent luxury. Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9). 

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: The titular son of Poseidon must embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters in order to stop a rising tide of ancient evil. 

Planes: The kids will probably do flips for this animated Disney film about a crop-dusting plane who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race. 

We're the Millers: In order to sneak a huge Mexican weed shipment into the U.S., a veteran pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) creates a fake family in hopes of bypassing authorities. Co-starring Jennifer Aniston.

2 Guns: Plenty of bullets will be spent in this action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington as dueling law-enforcement officers trying to clear their names. 

Blue Jasmine: Woody Allen's latest comedy showcases the amazing Cate Blanchett as an entitled 1-percenter who experiences a harrowing fall from grace.

Smurfs 2: Another Smurfs movie, because why not? 

The Wolverine: Hugh Jackman reprises his iconic role as the immortal clawed X-Man battling a brutal band of Yakuza in modern Japan. 

The Way, Way Back: A 14-year-old boy finds self-worth during a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her combative new boyfriend (Steve Carell).

Despicable Me 2: Gru (Steve Carell) and his army of minions attempt to transcend their roles as villains and save the world in this sequel to the popular 2010 animated film. 

Cosmic Collisions: So, that asteroid that might smash into Earth in 20 years is much bigger than previously thought? Awesome. This new IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet looks at what happens when things bash into each other in outer space. On the bright side, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, at least future species will have a new source of fossil fuels. 

Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.


See all events on Friday, Dec 9