Entertainment Weekly - 09/22/2006
"[T]he most potent dimension of THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON is the way it captures the contradictory romanticism of Lennon the radical." -- Grade: B
New York Times - 09/15/2006
"When it concentrates on the particulars of Lennon's activism and on Nixon's apparent obsession with him, the film offers its clearest window on the past."
Rolling Stone - 10/05/2006 3 stars out of 4 -- "The film is loaded with testimony and talking heads....Lennon's spirit, like his music, shines through this movie like a beacon. Powerful stuff."
Total Film - 01/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "[An] engaging documentary....The film also serves as a gripping trawl through Lennon's later life in music."
Sight and Sound - 01/01/2007
"[The interviews] are woven together with neat rostrum camerawork and a pulsating soundtrack. Yoko heads an impressive cast of interviewees..."
Film Comment - 01/01/2007
"[T]he massive cast of interviewees and a certain relevance to the current political climate make it much more than a nostalgic stroll down Penny Lane."
Ultimate DVD - 03/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his entertaining and involving pop culture history lesson is hugely enjoyable stuff."
David Leaf and John Scheinfeld struggled for over 15 years to produce this documentary, and it's emergence in the year 2006 is a testament to the film's timeliness. THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON focuses on a part of the music icon's life that is often overlooked: his politicization both during and after the Vietnam War. Towards the end of the Beatles' career, Lennon began taking the band in a new direction, using their popularity to circulate a message of peace in songs such as "Revolution." He became even more involved after the band broke up, and the film traces his growing awareness and dissent through both archival footage--much of which had lain forgotten in vaults for decades--and interviews with those close to him. This leads to the titular case, in which the U.S. government, which had already been monitoring his actions for some time, attempted to deport the star for fear of the threat he posed to the nation.
The film also portrays Lennon's close relationship with Yoko Ono and the effect she had on his art, including an interview with the Japanese performance artist and muse that sheds much light on the couple's intimate history. Other interviews feature such luminaries as Mario Cuomo, Gore Vidal, Walter Cronkite, Angela Davis, and even G. Gordon Liddy, the former chief operative under Richard Nixon. The film avoids falling into the trap of one-dimensional idolatry, showing Lennon's politicization as reflective of his own spiritual path, a very personal, at times fallible, journey towards using his fame to make the world a better place. The constraints and depletion of civil liberties Lennon experienced at the hands of the U.S. government, then in the throws of a neo-McCarthyism, invite comparisons to contemporary politics. The creative ways he fought for expression and peace, meanwhile, expand upon the known brilliance of a remarkable figure.
Theatrical Release |