CHAPTER 27 – 2007 – movie
This is one of the most underrated films that I’ve seen or reviewed. It is not a movie where you can sit back with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy being entertained for 84 minutes.
It is technically classified as a biographical film – a biopic. The film opens with Chapman’s arrival in New York City. They used Leto’s voice in a rambling, difficult to understand narrative to move the story forward and to give us some insight into Chapman’s confused mental state.
“I believe in Holden Caulfield, and the book. And what it was saying to a lost generation of phony people. … …. Holden….”
“It was December and all, and I went outside and walked a few blocks North. There was this kind of a crazy cold day. No sun out. No wind.”
I had to download the script to figure out what the heck he was saying. Speaking as a film editor, I enjoyed their technique of starting a fade out and then, before it finishes, cutting to the incoming scene.
I’ve used fade-to-cut, but their little trick is just below the level of perception and very effective.
We learn that he’d actually been to the city once before in an aborted attempt to carry out his plan to assassinate Lennon.
“Steve. How you doing? - I'm doing fine, and how'd you know my name? You don't remember me? I was here a little over a month ago. - From Hawaii? I was here to see John Lennon? - Nope. Okay, well, uh... Last time, I didn't do it.”
In preparation for the role Leto went on an eating binge. He gained 67 pounds by drinking microwaved Hagen daze ice cream, mixed with vegetable oil. When it was all over he was left with poor health, gout and heart problems. He said he’d never recommend that anyone take that route to prepare for a role.
“I didn't speak to anybody. I was in character 24 hours a day. For me, it was an experience that I
had to have alone. The character was very isolated, and I took that approach as well. I had a very religious approach to developing the character. It's not like the director said, "Cut!" and everyone was able to laugh and go get a drink and talk about something extraneous.”
We see Chapman inserting himself into the small group outside the Dakota’s main entrance. I’m not sure when Lennon took up residence there. I often exited the park at 72nd, but I never saw a group of people there just hanging out at the Dakota.
Over the next three days he struck up an awkward acquaintance with a local celebrity photographer, Paul Goresh (Judah Friedlander) and Jude (Lindsay Lohan), a Beatles fan.
It is during these interchanges that Leto’s acting brilliance is on full display. We see Chapman, struggling on the edge of sanity and straining to engage in normal conversation and conduct.
Jude intuitively senses that Chapman’s fragile hold on reality is near the breaking point. We sigh with relief as she makes her exit.
'Wait, wait. - - I really should get home. - Just a little bit longer. I know he's gonna come out, I know it. I know it. - Maybe some other time. - But I know he's gonna come out. He's got to. You know? - - I'm sorry, I can't. Please? - Good luck. - Please? Wait. I said "wait"! -- It's over."
Friedlander does a terrific job in the role of the celebrity photog. In the face of Chapman’s confrontational attitude Goresh succeeds in photographing Chapman as he reaches his long held goal…. he at last meets Lennon, who graciously signs this new album.
“What are you waiting for? There he is!
-- Have you got a pen?
--Thanks. -- Is that all you want?
-- Yeah, thanks.
-- Are you sure? That's all?
-- Yeah, that's all.
-- Thanks, John.
-- You're welcome.”
On Monday, December 8, 1980 we returned from a weekend upstate, and were living at 85th and Broadway at the time. I, and most of my friends, were a little too old to be authentic members of a Beatles “fan club”, but we all liked their music. Lennon lived just a few blocks away. He kept a psychedelically painted Jag sedan in the parking garage where I’d been storing my car for years.
It was pretty ostentatious and always boxed-in at the same spot. I’m sure he never drove it; I looked in the ash trays… didn’t find any old stale joints.
We were all very sad when he was shot, but his proximity long ago removed any element of mystery or wonder; we all shared the same streets, bought our lox at Fairways or Zabar’s, and grabbed hotdogs at Gray’s Papaya.
New Yorkers typically avoid eye contact so it’s doubtful that I would ever have picked him out of the crowd on the street.
A lot of people are wondering how, so senseless an act could take place.
This frightening movie dramatizes the obsessive behavior that can result when yours, mine, or anyone’s brain chemistry becomes imbalanced; usually by too little or too much norepinephrine. Most of the time this imbalance can be corrected by medication.
Jared Leto, who did an outstanding job in this role, described Chapman as “a failure of humanity”. Altho I admire Mr. Leto’s acting ability, his qualifications
as a psychologist are lacking. It is not “humanity” that failed Mr. Chapman. It was something far less dramatic. Examinations and tests revealed it was his brain chemistry that had gone awry.
Long before his life was over taken by his fantasies and obsessions, he was prescribed medication that could have given him control of his own actions.
Chapman’s obsession with Lennon was triggered by a book he read which described how successful Lennon had become.
He was furious that Lennon had made so much money, and he was under treatment by a doctor in Hawaii the time.
The drugs Prozac and Paxil were prescribed for this condition. However, he had become a “born-again” Christian and against his wife’s and doctor’s advice he refused to take his medication.
Chapman’s flawed and delusional view of his place in the world was driven by his imagined perception of what is real.
He is one of humanity’s extreme examples of what happens when a crippled view of reality becomes the only reality.
“The phony must die, says the catcher in the rye. I will do it. If you give me the opportunity, I will do it....
Yes. Mr. Lennon? That's all I wanna tell you about.”
“We have arrested Mark David Chapman... for the homicide of John Lennon.”
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