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Review of the Australian (Outlaw) Film Chopper (Starring Eric Bana).

Review of the Australian (Outlaw) Film Chopper (Starring Eric Bana).

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Published by W.B. Keckler
This is a review of the Australian film Chopper, a prison drama and partially fictionalized biopic about legendary Australian outlaw Chopper Read. If you didn't see this yet, you're MISSING OUT!
This is a review of the Australian film Chopper, a prison drama and partially fictionalized biopic about legendary Australian outlaw Chopper Read. If you didn't see this yet, you're MISSING OUT!

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Published by: W.B. Keckler on Nov 07, 2007
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Review of the Australian Film Chopper (2000)I rented the Australian movie Chopper because a bloke from the Buffalo listservwho had contributed some thoughtful responses to some of my postings there, and avery cool poem to my blog, turned out to be an actor who had a part in it. I thinkI freaked him out when I "outed" him as an actor, or else he isuncharacteristically (okay I'm used to Americans) modest for an actor, because henever admitted this is he, but it is. Google says so, and Google is the Great Oz.Mr. Cluff is now a reporter for the Ballarat region of Australia and is in someposition of power at ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Company. Okay, by now heprobably thinks he has a stalker, but no worries mate. I'm now stalking the starof the movie, Eric Bana. Just kidding!!Seriously, I didn't know what to expect, as the promotional poster for the moviefeatures a very Village People-esque Eric Bana as the titular character and Ithought, "Okay, another prison exploitation film...maybe some incidental Oz-typebrutal homosexuality thrown in." Hey,there's Oz-again...OZ on HBO, Oz a city inAustralia...the synchronicities are mounting...hehe I said "mounting" indiscussing a prison movie.I was very mistaken. This is a masterfully-crafted movie and I am cutting andpasting the Wikipedia entry on it below (apologies for the failure of graphics toreproduce...just go to the actual entry) which saves me commenting at length onthis, since the entry is pretty well-written. Caleb Cluff is in two short scenesas Detective Creswell. He gets to square off with Chopper in two interrogationscenes. Of course he does a great job, but this is not his movie.Before I read this at Wiki I was already thinking Scorsese: "One shot early in thefilm depicts Chopper walking down the street towards the camera smoking acigarette in slow-motion, with everyone else in the shot out of focus. This is anhomage to the 1976 Scorsese film Taxi Driver." Comparisons to Taxi Driver wouldseem to be apt for more than one reason, as the anti-hero crafted here is somewhatof a Down Under cousin to De Niro's Travis B. Both are rather lost men who aretaken up into a country's cultural narrative as heroes in some measure, despite(or because of?) their penchant for acting upon primal, violent and irrationalimpulses. But Andrew Dominik is his own man; though the film might pay homage toScorsese, the director is crafting his own type of storytelling, his own cinematicvisual sense, and Bana gives us a new take on the beloved holy goof and the anti-hero.I'm not sure how much this biopic adheres to the life story of the real ChopperRead, but I expect there are the usual distortions and magnifications in theservice of myth-making one has come to expect with this genre. The movie has theusual disclaimer at the beginning saying as much.I was really struck by the color effects the director uses in the second half ofthe movie, surprisingly discussed in the Wiki article as an intended effect of"visual overload." It's not done in a pretentious manner at all, and really worksto fuck with your optical receptors, give you false reads on depth in certainscenes where the director is showing say two rooms at once in a cutaway view. Thisis presumably to bring attention to bear on the inability of Chopper to deal withthe increased complexity of life, its moral nuances, outside the prison walls. Onegets the sense that inside the prison walls behavior was much more primal, butbasically simpler to understand, especially for someone like Chopper. I hadcommented on the colors repeatedly while watching this (to Lee's chagrin as hehates reviewing while a movie is being watched lol). It rather reminded me of whatStephen Frears had done with My Beautiful Laundrette, which I believe was shot on
 
8mm. And I seem to recall Frears favored a triatic color relationship with theprimaries (red, blue and yellow) which worked quite beautifully. Both thesedirectors are much more imaginative vis-a-vis this than directors like Alan Parkerwho love filming a movie in blue tonalities (for example, Parker's quirky butwatchable Birdy or his rather annoying Angel Heart). Falling back on bluemonochrome (or blue filtering) has become an arty cinematic cliche, and what wouldbe poetry usually ends up as galling poeticism, fey and hackneyed as a perfumecommercial visually "quoting" Jean Cocteau.Erik Bana deserves the hyperbolic praise Ebert heaps on him (quoted in the Wikiarticle). It is a bit like encountering a De Niro or a Montgomery Clift for thefirst time, the experience of watching him in this movie. We are used to thisstock character (the prison alpha male) being a sociopath,or able to suavely mimica sociopath's manner, whereas Bana plays Chopper Read as fortune's fool, achildlike monster who stubbornly just stares when a best friend double-crosses himand starts stabbing him (for the bounty on his head) in a crucial scene. Banastares into his friend's eyes like a hurt child, and as much as pleads with him toconsider what he is doing as the stab count mounts ridiculously close to a lethalnumber of strikes. It is infradig for him to even reach out and stop the handstabbing him, because it is he who is being wronged by someone he trusted andperhaps loved. It is a harrowing scene which is sure to have a viewer squirmingand dumbfounded.There are other scenes like this where Chopper acts on impulse or primal feelingsbased in the limbic part of the brain, and then runs from his own bloody handiworklike a child, or completely reverses his feelings for a character he has justassaulted. At first, I thought maybe some will interpret this as sarcasm, thatthis shows how cool this character is to toy with his victims like this, butChopper's actions don't really bear that interpretion out as a tenable one. Thebehavior is genuine remorse. This behavior leads to darkly hilarious scenes, suchas the one where he drives someone he has just shot to a hospital emergency room,or apologizes and tries to casually converse with a dying man whom he has justmortally wounded. In this sense, the filmic version of Chopper which Dominic hascrafted is an infinitely pathetic creature, and something very much familiar to usfrom the world of the ancient Greek tragedies.I can heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in seeing a superior andmemorable work of Australian cinema. I had never even heard a single word aboutthis movie (don't think it was promoted at all in America). Check out the list ofawards it won (Wiki). They were very well deserved, those accolades.Dominik assembled a gifted cast and there aren't really any false notes in theperformances. The actress playing Chopper's girlfriend was particularly good, aswas the actor who played Chopper's best friend/nemesis, Simon Lyndon.Check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.(This review originally appeared on my blog Joe Brainard's Pyjamas...come visitme! Feel free to reproduce my writing as long as you credit me and/or my blog andaren't making money off me, you scalawag!)The WIKIPEDIA entry on this movie follows: for active links visit the WIKIPEDIApage...Chopper (film)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
• Ten things you may not know about images on Wikipedia •Jump to: navigation,searchFor other uses of the word, see Chopper.ChopperMovie poster for ChopperDirected by Andrew DominikProduced by Michele BennettWritten by Story:Mark Brandon ReadScreenplay:Andrew DominikStarring Eric BanaSimon LyndonDavid FieldMusic by Mick HarveyCinematography Geoffrey HallKevin HaywardEditing by Ken SallowsDistributed by First Look PicturesRelease date(s) August 3, 2000Running time 94 minutesCountry AustraliaLanguage EnglishAll Movie Guide profileIMDb profileChopper is a 2000 Australian film, written and directed by Andrew Dominik andbased on the semi-autobiographical books by Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read. The filmstars Eric Bana as the eponymous "Chopper" Read, and co-stars Vince Colosimo,Simon Lyndon and David Field.Contents [hide]1 Plot2 Production3 Response3.1 Reviews3.2 Reaction from Mark "Chopper" Read3.3 Awards4 Trivia5 See also6 External links[edit] PlotIn and out of jail since he was 16, Melbourne standover man Mark Read (Eric Bana)kidnaps a judge to get his associate friend Jimmy Loughnan (Simon Lyndon) out ofthe notorious H Division of maximum security Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. Hefails and is sentenced to 16 and a half years in the very prison in which Loughnanis serving his time. To become leader of the division, he ignites a power strugglewhich gains him more enemies than admirers. Eventually, even his gang turn theirbacks on him, and he is stabbed by his childhood friend Loughnan. He voluntarilyhas his ears cut off by a fellow inmate in order to be transferred out of the HDivision; this also gains him recognition in and out of the prison.He is released in 1986, revisiting enemies and friends who he cannot differentiateanymore. He reunites with his former girlfriend Tanya (Kate Beahan), but suspectsthat she is involved with one of his old victims, Neville Bartos (Vince Colosimo).

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