Review of the Australian Film Chopper (2000) I rented the Australian movie Chopper because a bloke from the

Buffalo listserv who had contributed some thoughtful responses to some of my postings there, and a very cool poem to my blog, turned out to be an actor who had a part in it. I think I freaked him out when I "outed" him as an actor, or else he is uncharacteristically (okay I'm used to Americans) modest for an actor, because he never 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 some position of power at ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Company. Okay, by now he probably thinks he has a stalker, but no worries mate. I'm now stalking the star of the movie, Eric Bana. Just kidding!! Seriously, I didn't know what to expect, as the promotional poster for the movie features a very Village People-esque Eric Bana as the titular character and I thought, "Okay, another prison exploitation film...maybe some incidental Oz-type brutal homosexuality thrown in." Hey,there's Oz-again...OZ on HBO, Oz a city in Australia...the synchronicities are mounting...hehe I said "mounting" in discussing a prison movie. I was very mistaken. This is a masterfully-crafted movie and I am cutting and pasting the Wikipedia entry on it below (apologies for the failure of graphics to reproduce...just go to the actual entry) which saves me commenting at length on this, since the entry is pretty well-written. Caleb Cluff is in two short scenes as Detective Creswell. He gets to square off with Chopper in two interrogation scenes. 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 the film depicts Chopper walking down the street towards the camera smoking a cigarette in slow-motion, with everyone else in the shot out of focus. This is an homage to the 1976 Scorsese film Taxi Driver." Comparisons to Taxi Driver would seem to be apt for more than one reason, as the anti-hero crafted here is somewhat of a Down Under cousin to De Niro's Travis B. Both are rather lost men who are taken up into a country's cultural narrative as heroes in some measure, despite (or because of?) their penchant for acting upon primal, violent and irrational impulses. But Andrew Dominik is his own man; though the film might pay homage to Scorsese, the director is crafting his own type of storytelling, his own cinematic visual sense, and Bana gives us a new take on the beloved holy goof and the antihero. I'm not sure how much this biopic adheres to the life story of the real Chopper Read, but I expect there are the usual distortions and magnifications in the service of myth-making one has come to expect with this genre. The movie has the usual disclaimer at the beginning saying as much. I was really struck by the color effects the director uses in the second half of the 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 works to fuck with your optical receptors, give you false reads on depth in certain scenes where the director is showing say two rooms at once in a cutaway view. This is presumably to bring attention to bear on the inability of Chopper to deal with the increased complexity of life, its moral nuances, outside the prison walls. One gets the sense that inside the prison walls behavior was much more primal, but basically simpler to understand, especially for someone like Chopper. I had commented on the colors repeatedly while watching this (to Lee's chagrin as he hates reviewing while a movie is being watched lol). It rather reminded me of what Stephen 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 the primaries (red, blue and yellow) which worked quite beautifully. Both these directors are much more imaginative vis-a-vis this than directors like Alan Parker who love filming a movie in blue tonalities (for example, Parker's quirky but watchable Birdy or his rather annoying Angel Heart). Falling back on blue monochrome (or blue filtering) has become an arty cinematic cliche, and what would be poetry usually ends up as galling poeticism, fey and hackneyed as a perfume commercial visually "quoting" Jean Cocteau. Erik Bana deserves the hyperbolic praise Ebert heaps on him (quoted in the Wiki article). It is a bit like encountering a De Niro or a Montgomery Clift for the first time, the experience of watching him in this movie. We are used to this stock character (the prison alpha male) being a sociopath,or able to suavely mimic a sociopath's manner, whereas Bana plays Chopper Read as fortune's fool, a childlike monster who stubbornly just stares when a best friend double-crosses him and starts stabbing him (for the bounty on his head) in a crucial scene. Bana stares into his friend's eyes like a hurt child, and as much as pleads with him to consider what he is doing as the stab count mounts ridiculously close to a lethal number of strikes. It is infradig for him to even reach out and stop the hand stabbing him, because it is he who is being wronged by someone he trusted and perhaps loved. It is a harrowing scene which is sure to have a viewer squirming and dumbfounded. There are other scenes like this where Chopper acts on impulse or primal feelings based in the limbic part of the brain, and then runs from his own bloody handiwork like a child, or completely reverses his feelings for a character he has just assaulted. At first, I thought maybe some will interpret this as sarcasm, that this shows how cool this character is to toy with his victims like this, but Chopper's actions don't really bear that interpretion out as a tenable one. The behavior is genuine remorse. This behavior leads to darkly hilarious scenes, such as 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 just mortally wounded. In this sense, the filmic version of Chopper which Dominic has crafted is an infinitely pathetic creature, and something very much familiar to us from the world of the ancient Greek tragedies. I can heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in seeing a superior and memorable work of Australian cinema. I had never even heard a single word about this movie (don't think it was promoted at all in America). Check out the list of awards it won (Wiki). They were very well deserved, those accolades. Dominik assembled a gifted cast and there aren't really any false notes in the performances. The actress playing Chopper's girlfriend was particularly good, as was 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 visit me! Feel free to reproduce my writing as long as you credit me and/or my blog and aren't making money off me, you scalawag!) The WIKIPEDIA entry on this movie follows: for active links visit the WIKIPEDIA page...

Chopper (film) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

• Ten things you may not know about images on Wikipedia •Jump to: navigation, search For other uses of the word, see Chopper. Chopper Movie poster for Chopper Directed by Andrew Dominik Produced by Michele Bennett Written by Story: Mark Brandon Read Screenplay: Andrew Dominik Starring Eric Bana Simon Lyndon David Field Music by Mick Harvey Cinematography Geoffrey Hall Kevin Hayward Editing by Ken Sallows Distributed by First Look Pictures Release date(s) August 3, 2000 Running time 94 minutes Country Australia Language English All Movie Guide profile IMDb profile Chopper is a 2000 Australian film, written and directed by Andrew Dominik and based on the semi-autobiographical books by Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read. The film stars Eric Bana as the eponymous "Chopper" Read, and co-stars Vince Colosimo, Simon Lyndon and David Field. Contents [hide] 1 Plot 2 Production 3 Response 3.1 Reviews 3.2 Reaction from Mark "Chopper" Read 3.3 Awards 4 Trivia 5 See also 6 External links

[edit] Plot In 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 of the notorious H Division of maximum security Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. He fails and is sentenced to 16 and a half years in the very prison in which Loughnan is serving his time. To become leader of the division, he ignites a power struggle which gains him more enemies than admirers. Eventually, even his gang turn their backs on him, and he is stabbed by his childhood friend Loughnan. He voluntarily has his ears cut off by a fellow inmate in order to be transferred out of the H Division; this also gains him recognition in and out of the prison. He is released in 1986, revisiting enemies and friends who he cannot differentiate anymore. He reunites with his former girlfriend Tanya (Kate Beahan), but suspects that she is involved with one of his old victims, Neville Bartos (Vince Colosimo).

In turn he proceeds to track Bartos down, shoots him and takes him to the hospital, unabashedly claiming that he has a "green light" courtesy of the police "to exterminate scum". However the police are not as glad as he is and when Chopper learns that he is now the target of a contract, he goes after his old friend Jimmy, only to find him worn out by drugs, two children and a junkie fiancée. He kills a criminal known as Sammy the Turk (based on real-life criminal Siam Ozerkam, who Chopper allegedly killed) at a bar, but gets away with it by claiming it was self defence. He eventually ends up in prison where he writes a book about his experiences in the underground crime scene in Melbourne. The book becomes a best-seller, and Read becomes a criminal legend and a cult figure. The film ends with Chopper in his prison cell in 1992, watching himself being interviewed on television. He is proud of the interview among those watching with him, but when they leave he goes quiet, and the film ends with Chopper sitting in his cell alone. [edit] Production Eric Bana as Chopper ReadThe biggest obstruction in the way of the production was the use of the Pentridge Prison in Coburg, Victoria for the shooting. The prison was being closed down and while the negotiations were underway, the funding for production was delayed. This put off the starting of the shoot. To show the sterility of the prison and to contrast it with the world that Read encounters after leaving prison 16 years later, the production was split into two. The first part, filmed at the H Division of Pentridge Prison, one of the actual prisons that Read frequented, was as plain and sterile as could be, and all the scenes in the second part, taking place in 1986 were overly coloured, to achieve a paranoid and agoraphobic atmosphere, called "visual overload" by the director Andrew Dominik. This was attained by lighting, choice of film stock used and colours chosen for set decoration. Part one of the production ran from May 3 until May 26 with part two continuing from June 28 until July 21, 2000, although it took about 6 years for the whole process to complete. Some extras were hired from former inmates and tattoo parlors. Eric Bana spent two days with Read to gain an insight into the role he was to play, and many of Read's friends, enemies, and old associates were interviewed. [edit] Response [edit] Reviews Chopper was received with generally positive reviews. Review-based rating site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 71% "Fresh" rating. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4, praising Eric Bana for his performance, saying "He has a quality no acting school can teach and few actors can match". [edit] Reaction from Mark "Chopper" Read It was Mark Read himself who suggested that Eric Bana play Chopper, after seeing him in the sketch comedy series Full Frontal. Bana spent two days living with Chopper to help him practice for the role. Chopper later praised Bana's performance on the 20 to 1 episode Great Aussie Films, where Chopper came 17th.[citation needed] Several of Bana's meetings with Chopper can be viewed in the DVD Special Features.

[edit] Awards Australian Film Institute: Best Achievement in Direction, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role; 2000. Lexus If Awards: Best Independent Filmmaker; 2000. Stockholm International Film Festival: Best Actor; 2000. Cognac Festival du Film Policier; Grand Prize; 2001. Film Critics Circle of Australia: Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (male); 2001. [edit] Trivia Read donated all proceeds he earned from the film to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne [1]. In the prison yard scene where Jimmy stabs Chopper, Bluey acts shocked and vomits. Actor Daniel Whyllie volunteered to actually vomit for the scene, and vommited on cue for each take. Eric Bana maintained a poor diet for a month in order to gain the extra weight needed to play Chopper. One shot early in the film depicts Chopper walking down the street towards the camera smoking a cigarette in slow-motion, with everyone else in the shot out of focus. This is a homage to the 1976 Scorsese film Taxi Driver. Australian singer/songwriter Billy Thorpe was strongly opposed to the use of his version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in the opening credits. The director opted to use "Don't Fence Me In" instead. Interest in "Don't Fence Me In" was increased after the release of the film. [edit] See also Mark Brandon Read [edit] External links Mark Brandon Read's official club Chopper at the Internet Movie Database. BBC interview with Eric Bana on his role in Chopper. Chopper at the National Film and Sound Archive (pl) Review at

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