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STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
o Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
o Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
o Bonus footage
o DVD-ROM interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
“Let’s try to do a portrait of John Lennon while at the same time make connections between our current political climate and that of the Nixon era that results in neither topic getting the proper amount of attention it deserves!”
John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Richard Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, Gore Vidal, Geraldo Rivera, etc. etc.
Fans eagerly cried out for an encore at The Vagina Monologues.
John Lennon, apart from being a part of what is arguably the best band ever, also happened to develop a quite outspoken streak of political activism and peace-mongering later in his career. This film in particular charts the beginnings of these seeds of social discontent in Lennon through his relationship with Yoko Ono and their move to the U.S. where his political leanings didn’t sit well with the Nixon administration. What follows (theoretically) is a struggle between the most powerful nation in the world and one of the world’s most powerful artists.
Nothing much to say here, just love the fact that the signs on the right are singular, not plural.
A movie about John Lennon’s arrival in the US coupled with his burgeoning relationship with Yoko Ono and his political activism would make for an interesting documentary. A movie about the disturbing parallels between the actions and rhetoric of the Nixon administration and the current Bush regime would also be fascinating subject matter to tread. However, trying to combine both into some bloated master thesis has now been proven not to work thanks to directors David Leaf and Scheinfeld and their work on The U.S. vs. John Lennon. What could’ve been a riveting work of documentary filmmaking instead comes across as a muddled mess of different storylines that never really congeal to make one cogent film.
Seen here displaying his patented "Slave fuckin’" face.
Late in the picture, Lennon is quoted as saying “Apathy isn’t it, man”, but one can’t help but disagree over the running time as the sections involving Lennon are generally the most uninteresting. The film starts strongly enough, starting with the Beatles backlash over the “bigger than Jesus” comment, suggesting that this was the beginning of Lennon’s movement towards overt political comments through the media but loses steam soon thereafter. Whenever it focuses on Nixon’s speeches or perspective from that time period, the film becomes compelling as it is truly timely (the rhetoric used today by politicians to defend a completely fucked up situation is almost exactly the same as used back then) and worthy of examination.
Forgotten in the annals of history is the first attempt on Lennon’s life by what reporters described as "the female Bullseye".
Unfortunately, the film never settles down on one topic enough to become fully interesting but never completely spins off the tracks so as to make it unwatchable. Instead what we’re left with as viewers is a tepid piece of documentary filmmaking that only sporadically captures the viewer’s attention. To its credit, the talking head portions of the movie do liven up the proceedings (Gore Vidal is particularly scrappy, and G. Gordon Liddy comes across as a cocksucker, more or less), but not enough to hold onto the viewer’s attention for any substantial period of time.
People nowadays don’t realize how popular "Racist Roy Orbison" was as a Halloween costume in the 70’s.
I don’t think the main problem here is that Lennon is being oversimplified as a human being in this documentary or made out to be a saint, having just seen Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace I believe that a film can deal in hagiography and still be successful as long as the conflict is interesting enough. And that’s where this film falters for me, as the titular conflict being touted here just isn’t interesting or even particularly aimed for or sustained over the film’s running time. It doesn’t help that Lennon isn’t a particularly interesting personality as depicted here, but if they at least created some high stakes that the viewer could actually feel, that problem wouldn’t make for tedious viewing.
A little something for all you gorehounds out there.
However, direct conflict between Lennon and the U.S. government comprises about twenty or so minutes of the film’s running time, which is a good thing, because it’s not particularly compelling. The documentary never really manages to prove that Lennon was a dire threat to the Nixon administration (them forgetting about him after Nixon’s re-election reinforces this) and thus his final victory doesn’t carry so much in the way of emotional heft. It’s a film of missed chances, where a little commitment to either a historical perspective of that time or a biographical perspective on John would’ve gone a long way towards making a much stronger piece of work.
On the back of the DVD, there’s a quote from Yoko about how this is the one documentary about John that he himself would’ve loved, and it’s not so hard to believe: this film has it’s mouth on Lennon’s rotting, maggot-infested cock and won’t let go. The unfortunate thing is that all we’re left with as viewers is the stale taste of corpsepenis. For G. Gordon Liddy and Geraldo Rivera completists only.
It suddenly dawned on John that he forgot to plug Yoko into the charger the night before.
The cover art is simple and to the point and it works. In any event, it’s better than floating heads of Nixon and Lennon with a “two men enter, one man leaves…THE COUNTRY!” tagline. The video quality fluctuates as one can imagine with such a varied assortment of film stocks and footage quality as is found in documentaries, and the Dolby audio is solid as well. As for extras, there’s the theatrical trailer (more powerful than the film itself) and about fifty minutes of deleted talking head interview footage. It’s interesting stuff for the most part, and is worth checking out for a couple of solid portions entitled “Dissent vs. Disloyalty” and “Then and Now”, mostly for going with the more interesting part of the film (connections between the Nixon administration and the current) and running with it.
6.0 out of 10