A documentary that looks at how a right wing government fears those who speak out against it, The U.S. vs. John Lennon is about the Beatle legend's transformation from band member to a hippie peace warrior and the Nixon administration's attempts at silencing him.
The U.S. vs. John Lennon stars - surprise, surprise - John Lennon, and while it certainly isn't too hard to get plenty of stock footage on the man, directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld do a very good job of assembling the footage into a strong motion picture. The movie progresses at a fast pace and covers a lot of material. At the same time, at only 96 minutes the movie feels a bit long, as it gets tied down with some rather boring stuff in the third act.
Still, the movie tells a story that is eerily reminiscent of today. While the times may have changed, circumstances have not, and once again we're stuck with a right wing government that strikes out at people who disagree with it (though, admittedly, maybe not to the same degree as Nixon). More importantly, the movie's message is peace, and just like we're stuck in an endless war in Iraq that has killed nearly 50,000 people, if not more, Lennon was around in Vietnam. The movie clearly parallels the two wars, and comes at just the right time (actually, a few years too late) as tables are turning on the current administration.
I was born after Lennon was shot to death, so I do not have any direct knowledge of the man, but after watching this movie, I certainly have more respect for him. I always regarded him as a loony hippie (I'm not a big fan of hippies), but despite his eccentricies, here's a man who stood up for what he believed in and refused to back down. While peace is not easy to attain, it is an option that is often forgotten, and was clearly forgotten in Iraq. Now, it's too late, but perhaps movies like this will help us come the next war... though I doubt it.
The U.S. vs. John Lennon is a good political documentary. It isn't an amazing picture, but another solid entry that shows just how out of whack the country was and is.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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