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The U.S. vs. John Lennon

2008-01-21 16:13
What it's about:

A documentary full of archive features that focuses on former-Beatle John Lennon's transformation from musician to activist, and the U.S. government's campaign against him.

What we thought of it:

Except among pretentious gits who say "the Beatles are overrated" after hearing "Love Me Do" sampled in a dance club, or those living with their parents' record collection beyond the age of 25, the famous "Lennon vs. McCartney" debate is enough to end any flourishing friendship in five minutes.

Silly really – what sane reason is there to have to choose between them? The John Lennon personality cult is even more difficult to understand. Which makes this John-fan-friendly doccie all the more tedious for someone who loves the music, but really couldn’t care much about the man.

It trails through the now-familiar life story featuring the usual US-lefty-doccie set piece series of talking heads telling you stuff you should already know in a "you'll be surprised to learn this" voice, plus some badly shot video you'd be ashamed to upload to YouTube. It's exactly the same formula as used in Outfoxed (2004) and so on, all of which are actually amateurishly copied from Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent (1992).

For John groupies (dead hippies are cool!), there's enough unseen archive footage to make it worth watching, and the movie certainly corroborates the images of Lennon as an activist. The damning evidence of a genuine government campaign against John and the positive spin on the Black Panther Movement are reason enough for anyone else to see this decidedly average collection of archive footage.

- Jean Barker
"Musician. Humanitarian. National threat." The new John Lennon documentary is MUCH less exciting than it sounds.

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