I saw The U.S. vs. John Lennon, which opens today, at an outdoor screening at the Telluride Film Festival. That may not be the best way to see a movie and seriously evaluate it. The sound may not be perfect, and there are many distractions (including the moonrise, which was pleasant and the inconsiderate person up front who recorded segments of the movie on her glowing digital camera, which got my blood boiling). So your mileage may vary.
PG-13 for strong language, violent images, drug references
This documentary had the cooperation of Yoko Ono; the director says it featured three new interviews with her. It also offered some never-before-seen footage of Lennon. The movie takes a look at the peace (and anti-war) movements in the United States in the early 1970s through the lens of John Lennon’s life. The “vs.” in the title refers to his fight to avoid deportation.
But who was Lennon, an Englishman, to get involved in American politics, after all? Answering that question are journalists and personalities ranging from Walter Cronkite to Geraldo Rivera.
The inclusion of interviews with the likes of Rivera, Gore Vidal, and G. Gordon Liddy makes the movie entertaining, but too many of these talking heads offer little more than personal opinions (and name recognition). Vidal is a well-spoken individual, but he adds nothing of substance to Lennon’s role as an activist in the United States.
Obviously, that cuts both ways. The movie is an entertaining, lightweight documentary about Lennon (and I must say I learned quite a bit about the man). On the other hand, if you take your Lennonism seriously (as the title seems to suggest), you’ll be better off going to the library to do your own research than spending two hours at the movies.