Monday, July 7, 2008

The Killing of John Lennon (2006) NR - 3 Stars

There were mixed emotions about viewing this film. One one hand, I didn't want this killer to be glamorized and on the other hand, I was curious to know what the reasons were behind his motivation to kill John Lennon. The movie does a pretty good job about explaining the type of man that Mark David Chapman was/is. The narration in the film is Chapman's own words taken from interviews and his diaries and the film is shot on location where the actual events took place. "I was Mr. Nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on earth."

Mark David Chapman, (Jonas Ball) was living in Hawaii with his troubled marriage to Gloria (Mie Omori). His father was basically out of the picture and his mother (Krisha Fairchild) was not setting good examples for him by running all over the island with younger men. He seemed to hold a lot of anger inside of him.

Chapman spent a lot of time at the library where he got a copy of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. As he begins to read the book, he identifies with "Holden Caulfield" the main character of the story. He reads the book over and over again until he is obsessed with the meaning of the Caulfield's ranting about phonies. While at the library, he glances through a book about John Lennon. As he looks at the images, he gets the image in his head of what a phony Lennon really was. The verse "Imagine there's no possessions" from John Lennon's song, Imagine, sets him off till he knows in his core, he has to kill John Lennon. He chants, "The phony must die said the Catcher in the Rye."

Chapman tells his wife and mother he's leaving for New York to travel for a bit. He visits a shop in Hawaii and purchases a hand gun and gets the proper paper work to take it with him to New York. Once he arrives, he visits the sights Caulfield talked about in his book and stays near the Lennon's home. He patiently waits outside the Dakota apartment building where John and Yoko live. But Lennon never makes an appearance and after viewing "Ordinary People" in the theater, he changes his mind and heads back to Hawaii to be with his wife.

But the obsession never leaves him and he re-reads Catcher in the Rye again, as he believes his mission is to return to New York and finish the job. He buys a copy of Double Fantasy, Lennon's new album and gets lucky as the couple are just leaving to go out. Lennon signs and even personalizes the autograph with a date and for a moment, Chapman is thinking how lucky he is to get such a treasure of a souvenir. But on December 8, 1980, after Lennon is returning from a recording gig, Chapman empties his 38, striking Lennon 5 times. The police arrived to rush Lennon to the hospital but it's too late. Today, Chapman is confined to a 6x9 foot cell in solitary confinement as his life has been threatened. His parole has been rejected 4 times.

2007 - The Killing of John Lennon - Tribeca Film Festival - Special Jury Recognition (Spotlight).

IFC Films
Director: Andrew Piddington
Writer: Andrew Piddington
Producer: Rakha Singh
I viewed 7/08

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