Today two films premiered with vastly different venues let alone plots. One was titled “Parkland” and the other “Runner Runner.” Before I can even address my impressions of both films which I saw today, I have to present a little background as to how I managed to see both films just a couple of hours apart and across three counties in Wisconsin. After a 30 minute search I finally found a theater in Milwaukee which was showing the “Parkland” film. “Runner Runner” of course was being presented on multiple screens in a variety of cinema complexes. That in itself presents the image of who goes to the movies these days.

“Runner Runner” is a flashy film about a college student online gambler who sets out to make his fortune. That student would be Justin Timberlake (See image below). Ben Afleck, the brains behind the virtual casino programs, takes him under his wing in a provocative Costa Rica setting filled with scantily clad buxom women to keep the young guys attention and a shirtless Justin to give a thrill to the sighing girls and a “woody” to certain guys who wish they were him.

“Parkland” is the story behind the events of November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas when President John Kennedy was shot. Those events centered around people who were involved in protecting the President, medically treating him in the ER at Parkland Hospital, the FBI who were keeping tabs on one Lee Harvey Oswald and Mr. Zapruder who was filming the motorcade when the shots were fired thus preserving for history the exact moment of the assassination and the horrific aftermath. Now that all happened 50 years ago but I could tell you exactly what I was doing when the news came across that the President had been shot. I had just arrived at the local Coca-Cola bottling plant in Chicago after my college classes to start working. The plant manager had his radio on and listening to the broadcast of the announcement that the President had been shot. He called me into his office, knowing that I was a big fan of the president. That’s when it was confirmed that President Kennedy had died. My world as an idealistic teen crashed around me.

Now as far as I’m concerned “Parkland” the movie delivered that same crushing feeling in its first half which dealt with the initial shock of the shooting and how the medical staff and those close to the President had to deal with the gruesomeness and shock of seeing the one they loved and served with his head partially blown away. The latter segments which focused on Oswald’s family while dramatic and moving left me wanting to see more of Jackie Kennedy and the Secret Service who carried his coffin onto the plane back to Washington D.C. And apparently even Zac Efron (See top image) playing a resident doctor in the ER at Parkland couldn’t bring such a docu-drama type of film to multiple screens. Even Tom Hanks who produced it or Paul Giamatti an Academy Award winner couldn’t save it. And that’s because critics are expecting something from Zac which I thought I saw on the screen but others didn’t. I could feel his horror as he first looked at the dying President. I could feel his character desperately trying to give CPR to the dead President.

And that’s why I had to travel fifty miles to see both these films today. But enough of background. What’s going on in the acting careers of Justin Timberlake and Zac Efron?

Both of them began as Disney musical talent. Yet one, Justin, keeps getting the good reviews for his acting roles while Zac doesn’t. My theory is that Justin never left his fans behind, that is his music loving fans. He continues to foster his singing career along with that of his acting thus creating a broader fan base. Zac wanted to leave his High School Musical persona behind thus after “Seventeen Again” which played to his fan base he branched off to more serious roles. But they didn’t seem to catch on with the critics in particular. So here’s the deal as I see it. Zac needs to foster his fan base by returning to comedic and musical roles and intersperse them with varied genre roles as that base matures. It works for Justin, so try it Zac.

Arthur Cola is an author and screenwriter whose work may be seen at: http://www.legendarytalesofarthurcola.com

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