Friday, October 27, 2006

Shitty John Lennon Film



Though ostensibly constructed as an ode to resilience and idealism, there.s a deceptive, perhaps unintentional sort of cynicism at work in David Leaf and John Scheinfeld.s documentary The US vs John Lennon, one that sort of creeps up on you as a dizzying number of authorities of every stripe flash on screen to help narrate the film.s story.

It really started to hit me when former New York governor Mario Cuomo was explaining that Vietnam was an .unpopular. war and cemented itself once former US senator and presidential candidate George McGovern described the US public under Nixon as feeling .divided..

My point isn.t to knock these guys for their understatements. Rather, I feel a more general despondence upon the realization that Leaf and Scheinfeld really seem to believe our collective cultural memory to be so pathetically shallow as to need such for-dummies prompting.

To affect seriousness, Leaf and Scheinfeld populate their film with such luminaries as Tariq Ali, Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky, who gets to weigh-in for all of nine seconds and says absolutely nothing of substance. I mean, it takes effort to put Noam Chomsky in a movie and have him say nothing of substance. And maybe it says something about the depth of Leaf and Scheinfeld.s concerns that Geraldo Rivera gets far more screen-time.

Of course, the reason for so much excessively broad contextualization may be that the actual thesis of The US vs John Lennon is either too limited a subject to focus on or simply too superficially dealt with, thus the filmmakers pad out their core material with a quickie elementary class in recent US history (and pat baby-boomers on the back while at it) as greatest hits waft through the background.

There.s certainly an interesting case to be make here: that Lennon and Yoko Ono (featured prominently among the talking heads) utilized their celebrity in a genuinely unprecedented manner to create performance art as a form of social commentary. Their extra-musical careers did indeed show moments of brilliance, grabbing public attention with their antics, placing blunt, anti-establishment, humanitarian slogans at the forefront, while sometimes incorporating a more sophisticated message into the subtext.

Due to such activities.and due to an even greater degree to their association with the likes of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the Black Panthers.the US government took great interest in Lennon and Ono, at least enough to illegally wire-tap their phone, erect a tower of frowning memos and spend several years and untold dollars trying to deport Lennon, who, naturally, turned the whole thing into a media circus.

These facts, already established elsewhere, aren.t elaborated on very much in The US vs John Lennon, though testaments from guys like G Gordon Liddy do make for a few fun and unexpected highlights. A few lesser-known details.such as Lennon.s plan to join free concerts that were to occur right outside of the 1972 Republican National Convention .are good starting points that just don.t get fleshed out.

The result of all this is a film that makes good reference material for kids or anyone who.s just awoke from a 30-year coma. For the rest of us, it makes for diverting, generic television.which, being a VH1 production, is probably what it was supposed to be in the first place.whose primary saving grace is the presence of Lennon himself, that singular charmer and provocateur who also happened to make some of the best rock .n. roll ever known. V

Opens Fri, Oct 26
The US vs John Lennon
Written & directed by David Leaf,
John Scheinfeld
Featuring Yoko Ono, Gore Vidal,
Walter Cronkite, Angela Davis

more truth is found here:

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posted by u2r2h at 5:15 PM


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