Who's in It:
Jonas Ball, Krisha Fairchild, Mie Omori
The Basics: The first of two competing John Lennon-gets-murdered docudramas comes out of the gate. And if you were hoping for loopy histrionics, you'll be mostly disappointed. It's almost clinical in its approach to Mark David Chapman's words and activities (with some dramatic cinematography liberties taken, which I will explain below) that all led up to the assassination of the coolest Beatle. That doesn't make it interesting to watch, but at least it's not offensive.
What's the Deal? Why do filmmakers think they're going to unlock the secret key behind devastating events when even psychiatric professionals can't? Because, unfortunately, you will learn absolutely nothing about Why It Happened from this. You'll just come away knowing that Mark David Chapman watched Ordinary People, fantasized about killing some gay guys and ordered up a fancy female "escort" in the days before it all went down. That all of Chapman's narration came from his own documented statements doesn't shine any light on the situation at all. The moral is that there are disturbed people in the world, and they do awful things sometimes.
Clichés Help Speed the Narrative Along: Movies about crazy obsessive loners tend to have a lot in common. The spartan, decorated-by-a-mentally-ill-person apartment. The nerd clothes. The ranting. And my favorite thing the Shaky-Cam. At least once in almost every movie about mental illness, the director of photography will, when at a loss to depict mental disintegration, employ the Shaky-Cam. That doesn't mean the camera always does the shaking. Sometimes, like here, it's the actor who wiggles his face around and goes "AAAAAHHHHH!" so you know how crazy he's becoming. But it's always there.
Artistic License Taken: Chapman is seen talking to a taxi driver, quotes the film Taxi Driver while fantasizing about killing his gay neighbors, is seen in the presence of TV footage of Ronald Reagan, watches the trailer for Raging Bull while in a theater to see Ordinary People and somehow manages, through all this, to invoke a historical event that had not yet taken place.
Movie I'd Rather Watch: A Hard Day's Night.