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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Piddington
Cast:
Jonas Ball, Krishna Fairchild, Gunter Stern, Gail Kay Bell, Mie Omori, Robert Kirk, Richard Sherman
Writing Credits:
Andrew Piddington

Tagline:
I was nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on earth.

Synopsis:
Mark David Chapman, a 25 year old security guard in Hawaii, bought a plane ticket to New York with the intention of killing the world's greatest musician and dreamer: The Beatles' John Lennon. Camping outside Lennon's apartment in New York waiting for an autograph, Chapman's childlike obsession with this "celebrity phony" descends into madness. Both gritty and dreamy, The Killing Of John Lennon is a stunning examination of a stalker's mind just before the kill.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3.077 thousand on 1 screen.
Domestic Gross
$6.672 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 115 min.
Price: $19.95
Release Date: 8/5/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary from Director Andrew Piddington
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Sneak Peeks


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Killing Of John Lennon (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 20, 2008)

Almost 28 years after the tragic murder of John Lennon, his assassin becomes the topic of two separate flicks Ė both distributed by the same company! That may be overkill, though Iíll have to reserve judgment on the higher-profile Chapter 27 until I see it.

That leaves the bluntly-titled The Killing of John Lennon as todayís subject. The story starts three months prior to the December 1980 murder. We meet future assassin Mark David Chapman (Jonas Ball) at home in Hawaii. We observe his precarious mental state as he moves toward his decision to assassinate Lennon so he can slay various mental demons.

A certain faction of Beatles fans refuses to acknowledge Chapman by name. They rationalize that Chapman killed to achieve fame Ė among other motives - and they prefer not to give that notoriety to him. I can understand that point of view to a degree, but I think the catís out of the bag. Referring to Chapman by some pseudonym doesnít negate the dark fame he already earned or reverse events.

That said, films about his life make me a bit uncomfortable. A project like this will probably either be a cartoon psycho story or it will serve to humanize its subject, and Iím not sure I want the latter to occur. Some folks perform actions so heinous they forfeit their right to be humanized, and that may apply to Chapman.

In reality, Killing neither makes Chapman a cartoon nutbag nor a believable, realistic character. It occupies a dull netherworld in which not much of interest happens, at least not until Chapman executes Lennon. For its first 80 minutes or so, Killing meanders and inundates us with artsy pretensions.

Then the titular murder occurs Ė in a graphic manner Ė even though more than 30 minutes of movie remain. Some viewers criticized the decision not to end the flick where one might expect and continue after the apparently climactic murder. It does seem like an odd choice, but I must admit that the 30 minutes or so after Lennonís slaying provide the most compelling parts of the movie. They offer a glimpse at the aftermath of the killing and what happened to Chapman. The flick takes on a somewhat documentary feel for that time.

Which is probably the approach it always should have been. An in-depth documentary about Chapman and all facets of Lennonís assassination would likely work pretty well. Unfortunately, this dramatization of the events falters most of the time. Even the final half-hour sputters; it improves on the first 80 minutes, but the film remains flawed.

It becomes very tough for Killing to dig itself out of the whole it creates during those initial 80 minutes. Much of the movie just goes with all sorts of slow-motion, quick cuts and other stylized techniques to put us in Chapmanís mindset. However they just seem self-conscious and distracting, and they never offer any psychological depth. We get a dime-store take on a madman without real introspection and value.

We do find all sorts of overwhelming pretensions, though. Do we really need a shot of Chapman shouting into the camera with the sound of a lion overdubbed? Ball relentlessly overacts in the part and seems like little more than a nerdy version of Travis Bickle.

Speaking of whom, Killing really wears its Taxi Driver influence on its sleeve. The film makes references to that movie as well as related others like Raging Bull. These references come across as cheap and thoughtless. I get the impression the director probably thinks heís being clever, but they simply serve to make the comparisons all the more obvious, and they donít flatter the rambling Killing.

As I write this, Iíve not yet listened to the commentary from director Andrew Piddington, so Iíll be curious to hear his justification for the bloody manner in which the movie depicts Lennonís murder. I find it hard to imagine any explanation will make much sense to me, though. I feel that the graphic visuals exist to titillate the audience, not to serve the story.

I imagine the filmmakers featured the bloody images to accentuate the movieís sense of realism. Oh, they flaunt their attempts at realism up front with title cards that tell us the film was shot on location and only uses Chapmanís real words. Perhaps all of this does facilitate the factual accuracy of the tale, but the shooting remains too bloody, and all the realism in the world wonít make this dull, meandering piece any more interesting. Killing creates a boring, fairly pointless psychological drama.


The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

The Killing of John Lennon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie provided a messy transfer.

The heavily stylized nature of Killing affected all parts of the image. Colors tended to be either excessively heavy or rather flat and desaturated. Even within the movieís stylistic parameters, the hues seemed off and werenít rendered very well. Blacks were fairly muddy, and shadows tended to be thick. Neither was terrible, but both showed mild problems.

The transfer often suffered from prominent edge enhancement, and that had a negative effect on things. Sharpness looked okay at times but could also be rather tentative due to those haloes. They made wide shots a bit blurry. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and source flaws appeared to be absent. Things could go pretty grainy at times, but otherwise the flick was clean. Overall I thought this was a problematic presentation, particularly due to the heavy edge haloes.

At least the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Killing fared better. The showy nature of all the stylized bits added life to the mix. These filled the various channels in an active manner and fleshed out those scenes. The rest of the movie focused on good stereo music and general atmosphere; they werenít as involving, but they were fine for the material.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech came across as concise and natural, with no edginess or other issues. Music was full and rich, and effects showed good clarity and accuracy. Nice bass response filled out the track. All of this made the soundtrack worthy of a ďBĒ grade.

When we head to the setís extras, we find an audio commentary from director Andrew Piddington. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at locations, filmmaking techniques and what he intended to do with the flick, cast and performances, cultural and cinematic influences, story and thematic choices, attempts at realism, the exceedingly long time it took to complete the movie, and a few other production issues.

Though Piddington provides a reasonable amount of good info here, he does so in a way that seems a bit off-putting, at least to me. He discusses the film in hushed tones and seems really pleased with himself. That reverence for the flick lends an egotistical tone to the track that makes it less enjoyable. Still, we do learn a fair amount about the movie, so its fans should get something from it.

14 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 33 minutes, 46 seconds. Most of these donít go much of anywhere, though some offer more concrete exposition. We learn more about Chapmanís life and his relationships. In particular, we see more of Chapmanís wife and his mother. Some potentially interesting material appears, but Iím glad the scenes were cut since they wouldíve added to the length of an already tedious movie.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for How to Rob a Bank, Paranoid Park, Chapter 27, Finishing the Game and The Last Winter. The trailer for Killing also appears here.

An awkward, rambling look at a madman, The Killing of John Lennon does little more than bore us with its pretensions. The movie lacks real insight and seems exploitative too much of the time. The flick features good audio but suffers from bland, flawed visuals. At least it adds a few decent extras. I canít recommend this tedious, dull film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.8571 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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