The new JFK-assassination drama Parkland announces first-time director Peter Landesman as a student of history, a thorough filmmaker with an eye for unusual detail who (at least in his first movie) takes an unconventional approach to a very familiar story and figures out how to tell it through a different scope. I’m very excited to hear that he’ll continue to work in the nonfiction realm with his follow-up project, because I believe he understands how to see subtle shades in murky realities.

Deadline reports that Landesman will next helm Down By the River, an espionage revenge thriller that will be based on the nonfiction book by Charles Bowden. The writer-director has been shepherding this project for some time, bringing it to the attention of producer Scott Stuber and Bluegrass Films years back. It tells the tragic story of the murder of the younger brother of a high-ranking DEA agent. When it becomes clear that the sibling’s murder was ordered by a Mexican druglord – probably in retaliation for the work the DEA agent has been doing along the U.S.-Mexico borders – the agent crosses over into Mexico and goes after the criminal responsible for his brother’s murder.

Landesman, speaking on the story (and on Bowden’s book), calls it:
“Haunting and epic. It winds and digs deep into the gray zone of the U.S.-Mexican border. We are using the true story chronicled in this book as a launching point, and the facts are like a punch in the gut. DEA agent Phil Jordan is a deeply compelling and complex cinematic character — courageous, brilliant, enraged, unstoppable. The desire to make this film for me is like a compulsion, and it’s great to be working with Scott again.”
Landesman is a controversial figure, a former journalist turned screenwriter who once wrote for the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. He once ran into opposition when the facts he presented in a story on sex slaves were questioned. It questioned the number of women being positioned as “sex slaves,” and whether an accurate figure led to an “epidemic” or not. Clearly, the issue remains horrific (and true), but scrutinizing the details became an issue.

Landesman seems to have taken that to heart, as Parkland proves he has an unusual interest in the smallest details when it comes to a large-scale story like the Kennedy assassination. As I discussed in my review, I appreciated the off-kilter approach the director takes to some very familiar material in Parkland, and I’m encouraged to see what he plans to do with Phil Jordan’s story for Down By the River. For now, if you want to see if Landesman’s storytelling methods interest you, here’s the Parkland trailer. The movie opens in theaters on Oct. 4.

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