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Nonfiction drama about Lennon's killer is very well made
ridleyrules7 February 2007
I saw this movie at the 2007 International Film Festival of Rotterdam. The director was present at the screening for a Q&A. I saw a finished cut, "straight from the Avid", but with at least partly a temp soundtrack.

Plot summary: This is a dramatized telling of the events surrounding the murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman. Chapman (Jonas Ball) is the central character here. We follow his footsteps in the months before and after the killing.

I have recently seen the documentary The US vs John Lennon (2006), It filled a gap in my knowledge about Lennon in the 70's.

This movie, "The Killing of John Lennon" is not a documentary, rather a nonfiction drama. It answers some of the questions about Lennon's death that I still had ofter seeing "The US..." The challenge with this type of story is of course: how do you keep a movie interesting when the protagonist is so obviously not a very nice character. I like how this was handled here. There is a good balance between keeping a healthy emotional distance from this criminal, while keeping things interesting. Ted Demme's"Blow" (2001), a similar type of movie about a famous drugs criminal did not have this balance,. I think, where "The Killing..." does.

Director Andrew Piddington states in the opening titles "All of Mark David Chapman's words are his own." This is important to know, I think, because we get to hear Chapman's words during most of the movie. In dialogs and in voice-over as he recalls the events. It is clear that Piddington has put a lot of research into this, though , He obviously used other sources besides Chapman's testimony.

The end result is a well-made film. Jonas Ball is almost constantly on-screen, and he gives a very believable performance.

Even though this was (as the director told later) made with a very low budget, it feels very well produced and expensive. The creation of the time period is very well done. The cinema scope photography is flawless. I also liked the score, but what I heard was at least partly a temporary soundtrack. E,g, for scenes in the car and taxicab a piece from "The Thin Red Line" (composer Hans Zimmer) was used. The director said this would not be in the final film.

The only flaw that I can see, is that after 3/4 of the movie, it started to feel a bit longish. All in all a very worthwhile watch: 8/10.

Screenplay Trivia: The movie was made without cooperation by Chapman (or Ono, for that matter. All of Chapman's testimonies are public, so that was used to get Chapman's words.

Production Trivia: The entire project took 4 years to realize. Much of that went into research and getting financing.
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A very disturbing watch from a disturbed mind
Tammy0818 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Take one light-hearted, happy-souled, dreamer who wanted to give peace a chance and introduce him to an angry, confused disturbed young man man fifteen years his junior. Add an obsession to the death and a .38 gun. You get 'The Killing of John Lennon', told in Mark David Chapman's own words, from when he first flies to New York 'because I want to travel' to his reading from 'The Catcher In The Rye' in a court where he stands guilty of murder. Forget the blockbuster idea. If you want to label it, it's indie, art house fayre. It took three years for the money to be raised to make it. Very few special effects, filmed on location. Lots of close ups of hands and feet and faces, along with shots shown over and over again.

It is not an easy film to watch, it was as if the happenings on screen had reached out and wrapped me up so much so a day after seeing it it am still stunned and my brain is full of it. The killing itself, along with other notable scenes, of close ups of Chapman behaving in a disturbed, disturbing way, leafing through a magazine full of pictures of Lennon, flipping through 'The Catcher In The Rye', holding it to his face, sitting rocking violently on his bed, dancing around to the Beatles music while his mostly unaffected wife Gloria stands in an adjoining room with her hands flat to her ears, writing 'John Lennon' in the signing book at work, holding a heavy gun and pretending to shoot people outside the window of the Hawaii gun shop, fantasising about shooting two gay men in the next room at the YMCA in New York, his obsessive behaviour after getting his copy of 'Double Fantasy' what turned out to by John and Yoko's last album signed by John, and all to a calmly spoken track of Chapman's own thoughts.

The killing of John Lennon itself; the DVD itself has a fifteen certificate because it 'contains strong violence and language'. I have watched many scenes in films that contain violence and language, but the killing was truly horrendous; so bad I found myself speaking out loud, over the roars from the gun and Lennon's body being bloodily torn apart, 'good god, that's enough now!'

After being arrested, he had a bullet proof vest wrapped around him to be hustled through the waiting press; as the police captain in charge said, 'This man just killed John Lennon. There ain't gonna to be an Oswald on my watch'. A moment of peace in a toilet, and the captain asked Chapman why he did it. He answered that he liked John Lennon. Helplessly, the captain added, 'so did I'. In fact, whenever he was asked why he did it he almost literally always gives a different answer. I believe he did it for the fame, he was sick of having a wife and a job and living in one of the most beautiful places on earth,living an ordinary life; he needed to be noticed.

Today, Chapman is in Attica state prison, in solitary confinement for his own safety, in a room six yards by ten yards. He has been turned down for parole four times so far. But don't pity him. He has never once expressed an apology for what he has done. He's only fifty-four now. If released, it's just possible he might get an obsession with another great person to notch up his fame level again. Chapman might be locked away, he probably would never be released, but he's alive. John would have been sixty-nine, a venerable, well respected old gentleman of rock, rich in memories, like Paul McCartney perhaps even still making music.

All that wiped out because a sad, pathetic little oddball nonentity wanted to be noticed.
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Technically Skilled, But Perhaps Should Not Have Been Made
heffay1112 May 2007
As a film, "The Killing of John Lennon" is extremely well done. It is expertly crafted. Well directed. Well acted. Well edited. Well shot. But that is a technical appraisal. I have a difficult time respecting this film because its emotional impact relies on one and only one factor, John Lennon's murder. If you do not care about John Lennon, the film has no impact. This is why this talented filmmaker chose his subject. Had he made a nearly identical fictional film that featured the murder of someone who the audience does not literally love, he'd have a film that very few would feel the need to watch. He'd also have a film that I could respect.

Instead, he has a film that Beatles and Lennon fans will watch, even if it in spite of themselves. And if Sean Lennon or Yoko Ono said, "You're raping John's corpse," well, I don't see how the filmmaker or the company that might buy and release this film could deny that in fact their money is soaked with John's blood.

The director himself was both arrogant and evasive at the Q&A after the movie. Someone in the audience asked, "Do you think Chapman would be happy after seeing this film?" Instead of answering, the director said, "I don't think he will ever get out of prison, and if he does someone will shoot him immediately." I assume that he avoided a real answer because the real answer is, "Yes. He'd be ecstatic. The fact that there's not one but two films about him will completely affirm whatever parts of his psychotic mind still cling to his desire to be someone. I've made Chapman very happy, that is for certain, even he never sees this movie." I did want to ask why he titled the film with "Killing" and not "Murder." He seemed the sort to enjoy a discussion on semantics.

I support this director's right to do the wrong thing, and only wish he'd have either chosen to not exercise it or would have made some effort, even if it were a disclaimer at the end of the film to express an acknowledgment of the exploitation and perhaps make amends for it. I am not saying that the filmmaker has to donate some or all of his profits from this film to a charity that supports the families of murder victims, but I am saying that he should. The Lennon family certainly doesn't need the profits, if there are any, from this film. And the filmmaker should not want the profits, because it is not his skills that will draw an audience but John's name and the world's affection for him.

I give this film a 4 because technically it earns a 7 and thematically earns a 1, which averages to 4.
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Piddington and Ball are destined for greatness.
leaningt14 December 2006
"I was nobody, until I killed the biggest somebody on earth". The words of Mark David Chapman perfectly sums-up this Andrew Piddington biopic of the estranged murderer of John Lennon. Not only does the film track Chapman's movements in the months leading up to the fateful event, but it also follows what happened to the killer from the moment he shot the infamous Beatle, right through to his committal into a psychiatric hospital. The unknown Jonas Ball's portrayal of Chapman is splendidly subtle and disturbing and combined with the artful and experimental direction of Piddington, 'The Killing of John Lennon' makes for an aesthetically pleasing yet chilling examination into the mind of a killer who just wanted to be famous.
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EXodus25X10 August 2008
In ways this felt closer to a dramatization then a film in the classic sense which I think was a great thing. It makes it feel as close to reality as a movie can be without being a documentary. Jonas Ball who plays Mark Chapman in this film is just amazing, I don't know exactly how close to reality he plays this character but honestly, so what, he is intense, interesting, unique and a force on screen. The film maker used transcripts from the trial and the diary of Chapman to create the dialogue in the film and that authenticates it enough for me, it opens a window into the mind of Chapman that most people would never know. I think the film did a great job, no an amazing job of making everything feel real, like cameras were catching this all as it unfolded. Even with the outcome already known to the audience the anticipation and intensity was at times at a very high level. I was glad the film did not stop earlier but instead went on past the killing into what I feel is the best moments of the film when you see the immediate transformation of Chapman and then slowly his return to insanity. This film proves that a single actors performance can truly make a film. My hats off to this director for recreating such a horrible event with what feels like such authenticity.
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The first celebrity stalker
Camera-Obscura6 February 2007
Seen at the IFF Rotterdam, 1 February 2007.

Expecting little more than an arty exercise in film-making, this turned out to be an exceptional film. Despite its low-budget, this independent feature is a supremely well-made, handsomely filmed and fascinating psychological journey into Mark Chapman's twisted mindset, from his background in Hawaii till his dramatic encounter with John Lennon outside the Dakota building.

Piddington largely based the film on Chapman's detailed diary entries and makes extensive use of voice-over, turning the film into an almost dream-like experience. Shot entirely on locations in Hawaii, Georgia and New York, it's remarkable how he achieved to give the locale - New York in particular - the necessary sleazy and grim 1980 look. In one scene, we see Manhattan through the dirty windows of a taxi cab. When looking carefully, some modern cars can be spotted and some modern neon signs, not around in 1980, but the photography is such, even these small anomalies don't matter at all.

Newcomer Jonas Ball captivates completely as Mark Chapman, filled with narcissistic resentment and anger, desperately looking for a way out of Honolulu, destined to make some kind of claim to the outside world. Although we know exactly what's going to happen, his every encounter he has becomes frightening, even when we know the only person he ever harmed was Lennon. When he picks up a copy of J.D. Salinger's "A Catcher in the Rye", this becomes his everyday bible and its main protagonist, Holden Caulfield's, loathing of 'phoneys', leads Chapman to think Lennon is the biggest phoney of all.

In an interesting Q & A with the director afterwards, Piddington said he based everything on firm, hard evidence and tried to make the film as factually accurate as possible. He even challenged the audience to find factual errors in the film. Not that factual accuracy is that important to me, but he surely set out to make this with a clear factual approach, largely based on press cuttings, police files and books about Chapman.

One of the interesting things about Chapman's psychology is that he didn't have a lifelong obsession with John Lennon. He randomly picked up a book from the shelf in the local library with photos from John Lennon, but if he would have read a book about The Rolling Stones at that time, 'it would have been Mick Jagger all over the sidewalk', according to Piddington. His obsession was largely self-centered. He wanted to be famous. The murder didn't follow out of any reasoned hatred against the person of Lennon himself. Lennon was a phoney, but George C. Scott was on his list too.

Mark Chapman is also the first known case of a celebrity stalker. I'm sure there were cases of stalking before, but no-one was even convicted for stalking before this case, let alone murdering a celebrity. In a certain way, Chapman might be the first true example of a 'modern stalker', a media-driven obsessed man, longing for media fame himself. 'I was nobody', he claimed,'until I killed the biggest somebody in the world.' When incarcerated and watching the news about Reagan's assassination attempt, he exclaimed they got the idea from him. Actually, it was Jodie Foster in TAXI DRIVER that sparked that one, but Chapman's actions might have given the definitive push.

If there's any minor knit-picking, keeping this from hitting the bulls-eye completely, is would be the ending. It seemed like the last half hour consisted of one climax after another, like Piddington wasn't sure how to wrap it up. It didn't really matter to me, because the film kept me in a state of trance till the very end, but if I were the producer or a potential distributor, I would demand some reworking of the ending. But this a very minute reservation about an otherwise great film, that clearly deserves a run at bigger markets. Highly recommended.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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Truly, why bother?
crossbow01068 March 2008
This story traces the last three months of John Lennon's assassin Mark David Chapman, as he slips into the unreality of deciding he must kill John. I know there have been films like this before, about serial killers and assassins, but why one about Lennon? The film is authentic, using Chapman's own words, but the question is, why would you wish to go through the agony of this? If you were alive in 1980, and the Beatles in any way touched your life, you remember where you were when John was gunned down. I don't think the film's goal is to explain Chapman, just to give a sober account of him. In and of itself, I accept that. The acting also is pretty good in this film. But, its like revisiting a really horrible moment in your life on celluloid. If you loved John, you should have mixed emotions, at best, watching this. A pet peeve, almost inexcusable: When Chapman comes to New York and he is in the cab along Times Square, you don't see the Times Square of 1980, you see it as it is now. The Virgin Megastore did not exist in 1980! Times Square was a dangerous place in those days, full of prostitutes and x rated movie theaters. There is no reason why that scene happened. So, if you loved John, I'd skip it. The last thing a Beatle fan needs to hear about is Mark David Chapman.
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Too long in the mind of a killer
dbborroughs13 January 2008
Re-enactment of the months leading up to the shooting of John Lennon in the life of Mark David Chapman using his own words and the actual locations.

Stunningly made and extremely well acted film is the cinematic equivalent to being dropping into the mind of a mad man. This is a often a scary portrait of a man on the edge. Through the use of words and images one can get a sense of what it may have been like inside the brain who killed John Lennon. Its a wonderful achievement that makes me want to see what director Andrew Piddington has done before and will do after (It appears he's done mostly TV documentaries). The early part of the film is very unnerving since you begin to see and understand what Chapman was thinking and going through. It is not an easy thing to identify with a killer and there are moments when Piddington makes you do that. (I know several people who don't want to see this film at all because they want to have nothing to do with the subject) As well made and well acted as the film is the film falls down in one key area, its simply too long. Running almost two hours the film simply begins to run out of steam as we watch the monotony of Chapman's life become monotony on screen. Some scenes seem to go on too long and others seem be a repeat of things we've seen before. What worse is that its an intriguing thing to think and feel like a madman its another to feel trapped in his mind and after a while the sensation becomes one similar to drowning and one wants to simply tune out and shut down. I hate to say it but I think probably a half hour could be removed to speed things up.

Well made enough to be worth a look on cable (I saw this on the pay service IFC on Demand) or as a rental where you may be ale to get through the slow bits by walking away for a while.

6.5 out of 10.
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Michael_Elliott23 December 2008
Killing of John Lennon, The (2006)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

The first of two films looking at the murder of John Lennon in the past couple of years. This one here tells the story of Mark Chapman (Jonas Ball) starting three months before the murder and a year afterwards. This here is certainly a little better than Chapter 27 but both movies have major problems, which in the end means that neither are worthy of the subject matter. On a technical level this one here is pretty strong with its nice direction and performances but I think it's tries to do too much. The movie covers a pretty long period but it kept hitting me as a been there done that feeling. We've seen countless movies trying to get inside the head of a crazy person and this is where the movie fails. I never did feel as if we were inside Chapman's mind no matter what crazy sayings were coming out of his mouth or how many times he read from The Catcher in the Rye. This here makes the first thirty-minutes really drag as we are seeing Chapman in Hawaii as he slowly comes to realize that it's his destiny to kill the ex-Beatle. When things get to New York the movie picks up a bit but we still have to listen to Chapman talk, talk and talk. The most interesting part of the story being told happens after the 77-minute mark when Lennon is killed. Unlike other films, we get some rather graphic details of the murder with all five bullets shattering through Lennon. I'm sure some fans might find it hard to watch these moments but we also continue with what Chapman did after the murder. Everything involving what happened minutes and hours after his arrest are very well done and are quite interesting but soon we get more dragged out scenes of talk. I'm positive there's a very good movie to be told here but perhaps someone should look at the murder away from Chapman's eyes. Ball delivers a fine performance as Chapman and others in the cast fit their roles just fine. In the end there's a lot of interesting footage here and it's very well made but there's also a lot of weak stuff that really kills it.
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Most people would like to put this tragedy behind them...which may be why films on this subject keep failing
moonspinner5521 February 2010
Another dramatized crime-biography on the mental state of Mark David Chapman, this one financed by the UK. Jonas Ball gives a fearless portrayal of the overweight sociopath Chapman who, at just twenty-five years of age, felt so isolated from the rest of the world he began to fantasize about killing a celebrity. Gunning down someone famous--in this case, former-Beatle John Lennon--would be Chapman's ticket to immortality, turning him into a prophet, a savior. No matter what amount of style or technical grace a film culled from this material can hope to maintain, the subject matter itself is off-putting; here, despite finesse behind the camera, the results are also distasteful on occasion. In the realm of a dramatization (with actors playing Lennon and wife Yoko Ono), it is therefore quite strange and queasy to see so much footage of the real John Lennon on display...and not just pictured amongst real-life headlines, but actual newsreel footage of the musician. One assumes writer-director Andrew Piddington was hoping to show a portrait of the victim as well as of his killer, but when the filmmaker stages the murder scene--with bullets bursting through Lennon's chest in slow-motion--one has their doubts that anybody here had their priorities in the right place. The film is doggedly audacious, with authentic location footage mixed in with quasi-introspective and 'revealing' voice-overs by Ball as Chapman, which are often chilling but inherently suspect, serving no particular purpose. Complete with flashbacks, flash-forwards, flights-of-fancy, and quotes from Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", one gets the feeling Piddington was trying to one-up "Taxi Driver" and its protagonist Travis Bickle (whom Chapman also quotes). The director certainly has done his movie-homework and knows many camera-angles and narrative tricks. Yet his picture is as soulless as Chapman, and it leaves the audience with little except the busy, intriguing intersection of an urban American city and a man lost on its outskirts. ** from ****
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Yes, I felt
irishm9 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Another reviewer mentions that anyone watching this film who doesn't care about John Lennon probably won't feel much. I personally couldn't care less about Lennon's music or his politics, and I couldn't stand the Beatles, but I like docu-dramas and true-crime so I gave it a try. I remember the actual incident and I was familiar with the details so I knew there would be no real surprises. I have a vivid memory of joining the world chorus of "oh no, John Lennon was murdered!" only because he died at the same time as my grandmother and I knew I was facing a three-hour drive to her funeral with nothing but Beatles songs coming out of the car radio. That was my idea of "hell on wheels".

But I found I DID feel during this movie, much more than I had felt during the aftermath of the actual killing. The shooting scene is terribly graphic and really forced me to think about what happened… for God's sake, this was a guy just coming home from work, he's got a little kid waiting for him upstairs, and some nutball who wants to be notorious pulls out a gun and pumps four bullets into him right in front of his wife. Regardless of whether or not Lennon and his rather strange wife meant anything to you personally, you've got to feel revulsion and horror at what you see recreated in front of the Dakota. Chapman's "I want" mentality destroyed a young family that night. John Lennon or John Smith; doesn't matter. What a hideous act of selfishness and misplaced hatred. I hope the SOB never gets out of prison.

It's unfortunate that the filmmakers pulled the viewers out of the past by including a taxi ride through Times Square, though. The billboard for "Mamma Mia" was clearly out of place and apparently there were several other modern-day touches that I missed but others have spotted.

I still think the Beatles were a quartet of funny-looking, tone-deaf weirdos… I was born in 1962 so I missed the Beatlemania boat completely… but I DID feel something during this film.
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A Flimsy Character Study
Desertman8426 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Killing of John Lennon is a non-fiction drama about Mark Chapman's plot to kill musician John Lennon.It stars Jonas Ball, Robert C. Kirk and Thomas A. McMahon.It was written and directed by Andrew Piddington. The filmmaker explores these questions in this fact-based drama which examines several weeks in the life of Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon.

Chapman is a self-obsessed young man who has an emotionally distant relationship with his parents and a failing marriage to Gloria. Unable to hold down a job, he spends a lot of time at the public library, where he rereads J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and browses though a photo book on John Lennon, and the two begin to fuse in his imagination, as he links Holden Caulfield's grousing about "phonies" with the fame and wealth of one-time activist Lennon. He hops a flight to New York City and visits the sights Caulfield talked about in the novel when not busy standing vigil outside the Dakota, the luxury apartment building Lennon calls home, with a gun in his possession. The first time Chapman crosses paths with Lennon as he's leaving the Dakota, he asks the former Beatle to sign a copy of Double Fantasy, Lennon's new album; several hours later, Lennon returns home and he approaches him with a very different intent.

The film is ultimately a flimsy character study despite that fact that all of Chapman's dialogue in the film was taken from his diaries or interviews he's given since his arrest and imprisonment as well as being a well-researched docudrama on the twisted mind of the 25-year-old killer.Jonas Ball's performance is commendable.
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Samiam331 July 2010
Some might say it's morally wrong to make a project like this. People all over the world since fall of 1980 have been trying to forget the name Mark David Chapman, with the intention of not giving in to his wish to be remembered as a nobody who killed the biggest somebody. Making movies about the incident as seen from Chapman's perspective certainly are not gonna help people forget, but personally I thought the film was fascinating.

From looking at his tiny resume, I'm guessing that Actor Jonas Ball was chosen mostly because his face is indistinguishable from Chapman's, not because he has any acting skills (even if he did) The role isn't actually that demanding. There is no real need for a performance, most of the character is sold to us through his narrated monologues. The Killing of John Lennon is made mostly by its direction and writing. It takes artistic liberties while ensuring that it's story is direct and the facts are portrayed with clarity (even if a few of them are manipulated)

So what are the facts? Well we know that twenty-five year old Mark Chapman, flew from Honalulu to New York in the fall of 1980, with the intention of killing Lennon. On the evening of September 8, Lennon autographed an Album cover for Chapman, who continued to linger outside Lennon's place. Two hours later, when Lennon returned from a recording session, Chapman pumped him full of lead in the presence of Yoko Ono. Chapman was arrested and was glad to plead guilty to murder.

So what was going on in his head? well if you want the best possible answer read a book, but I just thought this would be interesting to check out. I wasn't disappointed. My one complaint about the film, is that it takes too long to end. Sure it is important that we see the after math of the killing, but the film throws out a bit more than necessary. Up until the last twenty minute, the film makes it pretty clear about Chapman's motives, the ending feels more like a muddled mix of thoughts , which does actually make his sound crazy, whereas up till that point, the film successfully portrayed Chapman as a human being. I suppose it is when crazy people seem normal that bring out the credibility of a story, and I think it is safe to say that the Killing of John Lennon feels credible

For an indie film, the Killing of John Lennon is well done. It is one of those films that you need to approach with an open mind, but it works.
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It Could Have Been Worse.
rmax30482330 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This could easily have been turned into an exploitation flick, the kind that's so easy to visualize among today's profusion of junk. See, there would be a John Lennon look-alike with a phony Liverpudlian accent, and half the film would follow him around on his last day on earth. Then there would be a Mark David Chapman, who wouldn't have to be much of a look-alike because nobody knows what Chapman looks or sounds like, but he would have a violent past and have bizarre encounters with negative images of spooks and spirits, instantaneous shock cuts, an ear-splitting electronic percussive score, the fondling of the blue steel Smith and Wesson, the climactic ejaculation in the portcullis of the Dakota, the foot chase, the speeding cars, the shrieking sirens, the exploding fireball, the shots exchanged in the empty warehouse, Chapman spread-legged atop a flaming petroleum tank screaming into the empty night sky -- "Made it, Ma! TOP OF THE WORLD!" Well, you get the picture. But this Indie production doesn't adhere too closely to the dumbed-down Hollywood template. It's more subtle than that. It's quieter, more thoughtful, if not more enlightening.

Because, after all, who can understand Mark David Chapman? The killing of John Lennon was preposterous. Sure, Chapman considered Lennon a "phony," as defined in Chapman's favorite book, "The Catcher in the Rye." Lennon, who made so much of his spiritual identity, owned five farms with Holsteins, a weekend cottage in Florida, and five apartments in the Dakota. But by such a lenient definition of "phoniness," we are all phonies. Lennon could have been anybody -- almost was. Chapman even carried around a back-up list of other targets in case he missed Lennon -- Jackie Kennedy, Johnny Carson, and two or three other phonies. So this movie, or any movie like it, that attempts to dig up a motive from Chapman's fulguritic brain, sets itself an impossible task. Not even Chapman knows the answers.

If the film doesn't follow the received wisdom of Hollywood, it at least imitates a good source, Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," which derives a lot of its stuff from Bresson. There is a slow and deliberate narration by Jonas Ball, who plays Chapman, telling us of his feelings, his deliberations, his confusion. The movie was shot inexpensively in New York and there are multiple shots of the Dakota, an apartment house that's probably familiar to fans of "Rosemary's Baby." The acting is naturalistic. It sounds real, rather than read from a script, as in so many TV commercials. There are the kinds of awkward pauses that are typically found in real life. Nobody's a stereotype. The cops who arrest Chapman clearly dislike him because of what he did, but they show more curiosity and disapproval than anger. The film is slow but surprisingly gripping.

This is partly because we know what's going to happen. And what's going to happen is so pointlessly tragic that it's hard to sit through. The climactic act is so hateful that it makes the movie irretrievably joyless. It's like watching a well-made film of a man walking down the sidewalk and having a safe fall on his head. Who needs it?
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Examination of John Lennon's killer.
michaelRokeefe4 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
On the night of December 8, 1980, John Lennon, co-founder of The Beatles, was shot to death in front of his New York City apartment. Mark David Chapman(Jonas Ball), more-or-less a loner searching for an identity to grab for his own, decides to induce grandiose attention upon himself. Ending his security guard shift in Hawaii, he flies to New York City with the full intent to killing John Lennon. It was a love-hate relationship...Chapman loved the music, but also conceived Lennon to be a phony because of all his material things. Camping outside John's apartment at The Dakota, Chapman does receive an autograph. He would linger longer descending into a madness that would allow him to put five bullets in Lennon. How true this depiction is is very debatable, but riveting just the same. Others in the cast: Mie Omori, Krisha Fairchild, Robert C. Kirk, Gunter Stern and Joe Rosario.
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Could have been better
pkwsbw12 January 2008
I watched this film on pay per view mainly because I remember that day so well. It's hard for me to say exactly why, but I don't think the film quite works. Somehow the character development didn't click for me. The film was a bit slow moving, and I didn't like the occasional surrealistic asides showing him freaking out, descending into madness.

Technically, there were many flaws. They didn't try very hard to get the period right, other than obvious things like his haircut, car, and the 1980 presidential campaign. Also, I recall reading that part of Chapman's motive was that he was a rigid Christian, and he still smarted from Lennon's offending of the faith way back in the 60s. I think he had been some sort of youth counselor as well.

Overall, there was too much of an amateurishness to the production for me to recommend.
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A pompous movie
brokk2114 June 2009
'The Killing of John Lennon' is a pretentious, unoriginal and pompous movie that is not even worth to be compared to other movies based on the same theme, such as 'Taxi Driver' or 'The Assassination of Richard Nixon'.

The worst part being probably the three or four uncredited quotations to Taxi Driver, it is pure and simple PLAGIARISM. If Chapman was actually inspired by Travis Bickle (the villain of Taxi Driver), then it would have been at least decent to show it in the movie. Besides, several scenes of this film are also largely inspired by Taxi Driver and Scorsese's camera-work in general

I gave 3 out of 10 because I reckon some technical skills (although it's largely overdone in my opinion, there is way too much editing in this movie).
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A superficial, slightly silly rendering of a horrible event.
S-Lanaway23 February 2009
I have read many Lennon biographies as well as numerous detailed accounts of Chapman's life. The books that I have read go deep into his background and they explore what conclusions can be made about his thought process and motivations.

In that regard, this film presents a strikingly superficial rendering of who Chapman was and what was motivating him. While skipping realistic depth and detail, the film uses atmospheric shots, music, and creative editing to conjure an atmosphere that is in effect, an art project.

Given the subject matter, I find it distasteful.

The shots of Chapman walking around in a clearly 21st-century time square (the film is set in 1980) are silly. The randomly sped-up shots of him maniacally grimacing are irritating, and, honestly, a bit cheesy.

I will give the film credit for it's depiction of Lennon at the end, I found him strikingly life-like.

If you really want to learn about Chapman, get one of the recognized books on the subject matter and delve deep.

This film is an art-school project that reveals nothing and presents a superficial, unbelievable caricature of Lennon's murderer.
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The Catcher in The Die!
meeza6 September 2008
Did John Lennon's alleged hypocrisy ended up getting him killed? That is one of the gunning themes that are brought to the line of cinematic fire in the well-executed "The Killing of John Lennon". The film focuses on the deranged adult life of Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman and his daily fixation with the literary work "The Catcher in The Rye". It starts from his young adult days residing in Hawaii and reaches to Chapman's deadly journey to Lennon's home in Manhattan. Writer-Director Andrew Piddington does a credible job in depicting Chapman's plodding disintegration to maniacal madness. However, he was a tad of a nowhere man with his underdeveloped, sluggish script. Imagine unknown Jonas Ball stealing the show as the deranged Chapman. I am sure it was a hard day's night for Jonas evolving into that character. Ball had to have balls to do it. It is one of the best acting performances of the year by an actor with a testicular last name. Piddington wisely also incorporates the theme of the hunger for social acceptability and popularity within Chapman's deviousness, and how man could be catapulted into literary theory obsessively in low self-esteem states. I do not think many Beatles fans will be twisting and shouting jubilantly with a viewing of "The Killing of John Lennon" but they should see it more as an objective narrative than a helter skelter fable. **** Good
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The Lesser of Two Chapmans
cashiersducinemart20 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"I hate the movies. They're phony, so goddamn phony," says Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27. Other than The Wizard of Oz, Chapman isn't much of a film fan. The Mark David Chapman (Jonas Ball) in The Killing of John Lennon would probably disagree. Despite the opening credit in Andrew Piddington's film that "All of Chapman's Words are His Own," his Chapman liberally quotes Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now. Likewise, Piddington's direction liberally quotes Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, Oliver Stone, and Spike Lee.

The Killing of John Lennon skips backwards and forwards in time quite a bit in the first two acts. The narrative begins in September, 1980 with Mark David Chapman in Hawaii. The audience sees glimpses of him working as a security guard, freaking out about his overbearing, oversexed mother (Krisha Fairchild), berating his soft spoken wife (Mie Omori), hassling scientologists, and pretending to be a sniper. Chapman must be making good money with his crappy job. While he drives a shitbox car, he can afford a gun and two trips from Hawaii to New York.

The aborted first "mission" to execute John Lennon doesn't add much to the story but appears to be included for the sake of accuracy. Unfortunately, this care about details isn't consistent. Two of the more obvious gaffes have a September 1980 news broadcast mentions that the presidential election is "next Tuesday" (a few months early) and a convicted Chapman is sent to Riker's Island instead of Attica.

The pacing of Piddington's film is clunky. Once Lennon has been shot—far more graphically than in Chapter 27 which keeps the camera on Chapman throughout the killing—The Killing of John Lennon runs out of steam but remains on screen for another 40 minutes! This final act ambles aimlessly through police interviews, psychiatric interviews, and scenes of Chapman in prison where his narration grow tiresome.

The Chapman of The Killing of John Lennon sees himself as an agent of change. He's ending the '60s with a .38 and helping to usher in a new era lead by Ronald Reagan. Election posters line the entrance of the library where Chapman rediscovers The Catcher in the Rye and a Reagan stump speech plays over the opening of the film. With a Chapman more indebted to Travis Bickle than Holden Caufield, the brief inclusion of John Hinkley Jr's assassination attempt of Reagan could have been interesting. Hinkley was another proponent of The Catcher in the Rye and swore allegiance to Jodie Foster after repeated viewings of Taxi Driver. With a dearth of material to keep viewers engaged, perhaps Piddington should have considered exploring the Hinkley parallels further.

If you can imagine Fred Rogers ("Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood") impersonating Travis Bickle, you have a close approximation of Jonas Ball's performance as Mark David Chapman. Though his "accent" is mentioned, there's little trace of Chapman's Southern roots present in Ball's vocalization. The actor is also lacking the girth, Jim Jones glasses, and unassuming politeness of the killer. This Chapman looks more like Jim Morrison gone to seed. Leto's Chapman soars to heights and sinks to lows swiftly, often sounding like a petulant child. Ball is very even in his delivery, giving his Chapman much more of a sinister air.

The Killing of John Lennon utilizes the multi-format approach popularized by Oliver Stone's JFK and Natural Born Killers. Piddington merely seems to be following Stone's example, adding nothing of his own. Things go from bad to worse in the third act which not only meanders in tone but appears to have been made as a student film and tacked on as an afterthought. The interview of Chapman by a Bellvue psychiatrist looks as if it were shot while the cameraman was asleep. Though, at nearly two hours (and half that filler), sleep is the most natural response to this sloppy film
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Could have been better with a better director or writer.
darill-280273 January 2021
Interesting story however the director / writer was horrible of the way they made this film. It's almost as if the director / writer was as deranged as the killer was in the movie. Other than that, interesting learning how John Lennon was killed as I did not look or study into before until now. Most of the parts in the movie was weird and boring due to the way the director / writer has made it.
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Jonas captivating as Chapman ... makes worth seeing
best_value_vacs17 May 2015
So I have not once expected ANY portrayal of Lennon or ANY of the Beatles to be believable. Not anymore than seeing Val Kilmer portray Jim Morrison ( incidentally everyone should check out the recently posted " Lost Ray Manzarek interview". So seeing Jonas Ball as Mark David Chapman was both disturbing and refreshing ( for lack of a better word). Honestly it was so disturbing I really had to watch the film like it was detached from what it was reenacting. Sort of puts me in a bad light as a reviewer for saying that, but it's true. So what exactly made me give this docudrama an 9 of 10? It was the performance of Jonas. His psychotic realism gripped me from the start.
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movie takes on a difficult task
Buddy-5118 July 2010
"The Killing of John Lennon" takes us into the mind of a cold-blooded assassin. I speak, of course, of Mark David Chapman, the mentally disturbed 25-year-old who shot down the former Beatle in front of his apartment in the Dakota building on December 8, 1980. The movie achieves its goal by restricting itself pretty much to Chapman's actual words, which flow forth mainly in the form of voice-over narration, as he comments on his thoughts and deeds.

We're first introduced to Chapman in September of that year as a moody, darkly introspective near-loner (he was married at the time) living in Hawaii, who calls people he doesn't know with threatening messages, and becomes so obsessed with "The Catcher in the Rye" that he begins to fancy himself another Holden Caulfield, i.e., a uniquely insightful observer and commentator on people and life whom no one else seems to understand. We learn of his being raised in a loveless family by self-absorbed and disinterested parents, where emotions and physical affection were seen as inappropriate and to be avoided at all costs. We see how he first begins to focus on Lennon as the representation of all that's wrong with the world and his own life, viewing the singer/songwriter as a hypocrite and a sell-out for preaching the gospel of love-over-materialism in his music ("Imagine no possessions…") while living the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous himself. Like Holden, Chapman came to see himself as on a mission to expose and bring down the "phonies," and Lennon was the one he alit upon.

We then follow Chapman to New York City, where he methodically closes his trap, carefully following in Holden's footsteps all along the way (for instance, Chapman stays at the Waldorf-Astoria and orders up a hooker simply because Holden does those things in the novel). Chapman comes to see himself as fulfilling Holden's quest to "kill the fat man in the hotel" - only Chapman will take that act out of the realm of fiction and fantasy and make it a reality.

Written and directed by Andrew Piddington, the movie, which has been shot largely at the actual locales, provides both a chillingly detached portrait of a man who was a self-described "nobody" until he "killed the biggest somebody on earth," and an unsensationalized account of his actions before, during and after the murder. Jonas Ball, who is on screen virtually 100% of the time in this film, effectively captures the loser-like nature of what is essentially a nondescript pipsqueak with delusions of grandeur who's determined to make himself noticed by a world that's paid little or no heed to him up to this point.

It is probably impossible for anyone to successfully get into a mind as warped and twisted as Chapman's. But the makers of "The Killing of John Lennon" do give it a valiant try.
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Looooong and Sloooooow
craigs_lust5 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "The Killing of John Lennon" at the Tribeca Film Festival. I thought this movie would provide interesting insight into why Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon, but I felt like it missed the mark (no pun intended).

First of all, at 2 hours, this movie is about 45 minutes too long. There are long, drawn-out dreamlike sequences that were unnecessary - it would have far more interesting to learn about his relationship to his wife and to also include information such as the imaginary people Chapman heard and took guidance from.

The film fails to capture the zeitgeist of the day - there are many instances where we see modern cars and signs (such as the logo for Planet Hollywood and current Broadway shows when the cab is driving through Times Square) and a general lack of it feeling like 1980. Chapman was among the first of the celebrity stalkers, and a feeling of this relative innocence of the day is lacking. (For example, Chapman frequently asks the doorman if he's seen Lennon that day. Nowadays, the cops would be called. Back then, he was probably just seen as a rapid fan.) The film is presented mostly in monologue. I'm sure this was a decision to give the feeling that Chapman lived in his own world, but it ends up leaving the viewer feeling like they've missed something.

I saw people checking their watches about an hour in the movie. I knew it was two hours long and really wanted to leave about halfway through.

A documentary about Chapman would probably be an intriguing movie, but this movie is lacking in many elements.
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Don't watch
JCricket972 March 2008
I can't believe I just gave 2 hours of my time to further the name of someone who was SO sick he took one of the most talented songwriters away from us. He is obviously disturbed and wanted to be famous, much in the way people today want their 15 minutes even if it is at the expense of others lives... I hope NO ONE else watches this and gives that sick man the satisfaction of prolonging his fame - which was achieved in the worst way and forever changed the music world. I will not say his name here or in discussing this film - however I will make sure everyone I know doesn't make the same lapse of judgment I did. And to the film maker - you may think you are cutting edge - or giving insight, but what you are doing is giving more power and fame to people who do not deserve it, and do should not have it. I am ashamed of myself for being sucked in by the title. You got my money but I will be damned if I do not do everything I can to keep others from being as stupid as I know I was!
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