IFFR 07: The Killing of John Lennon

e04b3be4-c6d1-4ac7-bc31-be053a4a7be7.jpgSo there it was, February 6th and I was taking my customary 3-day Amsterdam break between the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). I’ve been pretty abstemious during this trip, as I might have mentioned. Drinking relatively little, early to bed and rise, no drugs, etc. However, with Amsterdam, well, when in Rome… So I was sitting in Barney’s, somewhat…altered, having just finished an Irish breakfast (minus the black pudding, thanks) and sipping on a “cuppa tay.” I hope I remember to proof this before I post…. (proofing it sober in Berlin….)
The Killing of John Lennon was heads and shoulders above nearly everything else at this year’s IFFR and one can’t help but wonder what the Berlinale was thinking when they used the fact that the film had played the Edinburgh fest as reason for turning it down… or so I’ve heard. Andrew Piddington’s chronicle of the months leading up to and following Mark David Chapman’s murder of John Lennon is an exceptional piece of work and I can’t imagine that US and other distribs won’t be clamoring to pick up this gem at the European Film Market in Berlin (screening times: Sunday, Feb. 11th at 5:30pm, CineStar 1 on HDCam and Tuesday, Feb. 13th at 9am in CinemaxX Studio 17 on Digi Beta. I might even see it again. It would also be nice to see this film get a slot at the New York Film Festival…hint hint! Ok, I am a retard and can’t tell my August from my September. Yes, if it was going to play the NYFF, it would have played last year. Duh. I do believe it’s eligible for ND/NF, if you’re listening, FSLC!
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An expertly plotted and acted look into the twisted mind of a paranoid psychotic, the film is a visual powerhouse, courtesy of Piddington’s widescreen direction & Roger Eaton’s cinematography and the riveting performance of lead Jonas Ball is revelatory. A debut performance (his prior credited roles include only voice over work) worthy of high praise and awards, Ball’s portrayal of Chapman’s slow burn descent into psychosis is the kind of performance seen all too rarely and brings to mind De Niro’s transformation into Travis Bickle.
Much of the screenplay is taken up with Chapman’s internal monolog, lifted verbatim from his journals, as is the bulk of the spoken dialog. Chapman’s words will send a chill through any audience and Ball’s performance will keep them riveted to the screen, even though we all know what happened on that fateful day of December 8th, 1980. This is an in depth and chilling look inside the deranged mind of one of the most famous killers of the 20th century and not to be missed.

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All photos © Picture Player Ltd 2006

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