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With Jim Sabatini

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Rated: PG-13 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 15, 2006 Released by: Lions Gate Films

This incisive, sharply crafted documentary explores the attempts to thwart the efforts of peace activist, indelible singer/songwriter John Lennon.

An atmospheric prologue segues to Lennon's early life, the Beatles, early times in the U.S. and their songs like "All You Need Is Love" and "Give Peace a Chance".

Lennon's view on Vietnam was more pronounced with his union with performance artist Yoko Ono. Lennon quickly was on the enemies list of Richard Nixon. In short time there was wiretapping ordered by the feds as part of their surveillance, and the paranoia involved a scheme of deportation.

David Leaf and John Scheinfeld have quite a visual presentation with archival footage and interviews with those ranging from FBI agents to friends, family, journalists, peers, and political figures. Of course, Lennon, Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover are on hand. Even people that are interviewed back in their younger days.

Maybe there is a self-reflexive frenzy thematically, yet the history is thoughtful and provocative from Lennon's commentary to the music, all felt as a threat to those trying to run the country. Nice touches are made from marketing "War Is Over" to extended press conferences from his bedroom.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon becomes more insightful in the look at the controversial artist's personal relationships. He wasn't about to return to Liverpool, England, eventually working a case for harassment and takes one into the Watergate scenario.

It would be interesting to see how Lennon would have demonstrated against Iraq, as the message from four decades ago is startlingly relevant today. The feeling of non-violence during wartime is a very touchy subject and this hippie man was never really silenced and still is an inspiration for so many.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
The U.S. vs. John Lennon       B+       B+

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