Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chapter 27: Movie Review


Observations without judgement for a character study deserving of judgement.

Mark David Chapman (Jared Leto) has flown from Hawaii to New York to meet John Lennon. This is his second trip. This time he’s going to do something big; he just doesn’t know if it’s going to be a good or bad thing. There are multiple ways to interpret that line. I like the inference that he knows what he’s going to do, he just doesn’t know if it’s good or bad. 2007

Directed by: J.P. Schaefer

Screenplay by: J.P. Schaefer

Starring: Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Judah Friedlander

The film is a remarkable journey into the mind of a deranged madman, and it’s good because that’s all it is. We don’t get distracted by following John Lennon, or following the hippie scene of New York, or even meeting anybody other than Mark himself. There are basically two other characters. Jude (Lindsay Lohan) is a fellow Beatles fan hoping for a chance to meet the legend. It is a little strange when she becomes friendly with the clearly unstable “fan”, but she provides a great turning point for Mark when he wants to spend more time with her—but not if she’s going to distract him from his target.

The next character is Paul (Judah Friedlander), a paparazzo-type who hangs out in front of the Dakota apartment building capturing Lennon and his compatriots in photographs. He’s probably used to on-edge fans desperate to get a glimpse of their hero and is fairly friendly towards Mark. He provides another turning point when Mark met John Lennon and got his autograph and Paul was there and got a picture of them. He was so excited, he almost forgot his ultimate purpose.

But that day was Monday, December 8, 1980. Monday was important, because Monday was a day which Holden Caulfield had a small adventure. It was reported that Mark David Chapman believed he was Holden Caulfield, but either way, he was very fond of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and believed Caulfield was telling him to get rid of phony people.

The exact reason Chapman did what he did isn’t really known. It has been speculated that he believed Lennon’s songs were promoting blasphemy. It also seems likely that he found his current lifestyle was disingenuous to how he grew up and how he claimed to live. “Chapter 27” has received some harsh critical reviews most likely because it doesn’t explain a tragedy that people want answers to. Others believe it gives a voice to a murderer who doesn’t deserve a voice.

What people are over-looking is that this is nothing new to movies. And “Chapter 27” is a phenomenally well-written film able to observe what Mark David Chapman observed without judgement. Jared Leto is completely unrecognizable, physically transforming himself into a man that most people cannot understand. There is one scene where he removes his sunglasses and you can see Leto’s eyes, other than that he doesn’t look or sound like any actor you have seen before.