Review: The U.S. vs. John Lennon
There was a fair amount of dread involved with going to see The U.S. vs. John Lennon. It didn't have much to do with the man himself. Aside from being the best Beatle, he had a badass solo career and a wonderful political agenda based on love. On the other hand we have Nixon with a political agenda based on eating babies. The setting is this, John Lennon due to his sway and radical peacenik positions was in danger of being deported back to England on some bogus charge. Whose side will the filmmakers take?
Like WWII, the subject of the late 60's and the disillusionment of the early 70's is a well documented subject. Unless a filmmaker takes a very specific movement, or group as his/her muse chances are it's been done to death. The zeitgeist has been throttled, mottled and sold. Guess what? The U.S. vs. John Lennon is about as deep and insightful as Forrest Gump.
Using old footage, we see John articulate his position again and again. He made the most of it. Because of the narrowness of the clips used, Lennon expounding solely on peace, he comes off as a St. Lennon, holy and one dimensional. The talking heads, on the other hand, drag the film down. They're either in the "For Lennon" camp, in which case they're boring, or they're in the "Anti-Lennon" camp, with horns sprouting from their foreheads.
Most of all what bothers me is the attempt to tie what happened then to what's going on now. Obviously there are base similarities. There's an unpopular war, disproportionate power in the hands of Jesus freaks and a government with little interest in humility.
But. The social climate is just completely different. Today, it's not such an absolute shock that governments can be cruel, domineering and underhanded. The shock lies in the willingness of people to elect (and re-elect) those governments. It's our fault. We don't need a John Lennon to lead us to peace. We just need to get off our ever fattening asses and do the little things, like vote once every four years.
Please note that Mario Cuomo in a "did he say that?" moment cites 9/11 as a viable reason for attacking Iraq. That right there is the problem, the one with this film. Slimy bullshit statements that have been proven false, are used so often and shamelessly by authority figures that they just slide through.
I give it this, The U.S. and John Lennon reminds the viewer that something is indeed amiss. We're missing the rallying figure. We're missing our John Lennon. At this point, the movie subject is a poster, a slogan, a memory, a goddamn hackneyed documentary. The public at large is more interested in lobotomy cases like Whats-er-name Hilton. People that distract us from the larger picture of world affairs, rather than point to it and say, "This is wrong. Let's change it."
It's 2006, and sorry John, we're fucked in ways you could never imagine.