Sunday, 9 December 2007

The Nines & The Killing of John Lennon

Over the last few days I've been to the cinema to see The Nines twice and The Killing of John Lennon.

The Nines is the directorial debut of Go and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory screenwriter John August. It tells three inter-connecting stories about showbiz types in LA. Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and Mellisa McCarthy play the three central characters in each strand.

It's undeniably a little bit confusing, but it's a good watch if you're prepared to put the puzzle together. Which several folk in the first screening I went to weren't, considering the number of walkouts.

I went back to see it a second time in order to watch it while listening to the commentary that John August made for download on his website. Listening to an audio commentary on headphones in the cinema was quite a nice experience. For one thing it shuts out anyone around you who might be talking.

The Killing of John Lennon is about as straightforward a movie title as you can get. It tells the story of three months in the life of Mark Chapman. Why it bothered, I dunno.

It's a well made film, no question about that. There's some great cinematography and some nice camerawork, but for my money the film manages to glamourise Chapman. It probably doesn't set out to do this, but there's an attempt to make a glamorous, good looking film, with a handsome charismatic star.

The story, such as there is, is taken from Chapman's interviews, depositions and court transcripts, so the words in the narration are all Chapman's own. The locations are almost all the actual locations. The gun shop seen in the film is the actual one in which Chapman bought the gun he used to kill Lennon.

The director Andrew Piddington said in an interview, "I knew the series of events that led up to the murder but I didn't know the mind behind the killer. I set out to try and explore the reasons why he did it and hopefully to come up with something that gave me some kind of closure on the tragic loss of somebody so amazingly talented who still had so much to offer." Well, he doesn't really explore the reasons why Chapman did it. His mental problems that appeared much earlier in his life were unexplored. The film offers nothing much other than his obsession with Catcher in the Rye and the suggestion that he killed Lennon because he was 'a phoney'.

Jonas Ball gives a good performance, but I'm not sure it's representative of Mark Chapman. He also looks more like Jim Morrison than the chubby baby-faced Chapman.

There's a mixed critical reaction. It's either getting great reviews or terrible ones.

Here's a mixed review of the film by Robert Rosen, who wrote the book 'Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon'.

There is a second film on the same subject, called Chapter 27, due out next year. This film has attracted a boycott website.

This is an interview with John August and Ryan Reynolds about The Nines.

1 comment:

patrick said...

The overlapping storyline of the Nines resolves itself nicely at the end... and, although Reynolds is a versatile actor, it was Melissa McCarthy who did a particularly great job of adding color to the whole thing.