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[LENNONYC - (2010) - approx.115 min. - fullscreen presentation - written and directed by Michael Epstein] A highly interesting and reverential documentary detailing Lennon's year's in America - no Beatlemania, no Fab Four, no childhood pics, art school or 'Cavern days' rehashing, no speculation or innuendo and, no sappy emotional brouhaha elevating Lennon to Godlike status. Here we are treated to hearing about the man who had it all but was bored, tired and weary of London, seeking the other modern-day 'Rome', New York, and feeling extremely at home there in his own words. We get to hear about some lesser-known facets of his life in NYC, from those who knew him well - long-time friend and photographer Bob Gruen, recording engineer and producer Roy Cicala, the guys in Elephant's Memory, whose band he fell into after producing their album for Apple records, a surprisingly direct and emotional Yoko, producer Jack Douglas ('Double Fantasy'), and bandmates Klaus Voorman, Andy Newmark and Jim Keltner, among others. We hear about his weaknesses as a man as well as his strengths as a composer, artist and human being.
It sheds more light on this chapter in John's life than any video representation that preceded it. There's the induction and swift exit into the civil rights revolts spearheaded by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the 'Free John Sinclair' rally (whose audio and video have finally been remastered), the appearance with Elton at Madison Square Garden in '75, the years fighting deportation, the hatred Nixon and Hoover had for him in these deportation nightmares (and vice-versa), his 'lost weeks' in L.A. with Harry Nillson, Keith Moon, Ringo and Paul McCartney, previously unheard studio versions and rehearsals, musical cues from John, comments, banter, arguments and screaming matches with Phil Spector, self-imposed retirement and life as a father and househusband with infant Sean, and the return to the Record Plant to resume his career, criminally cut-short by his assassination in 1980 on his 40th birthday. (Thankfully, not much time is spent dwelling on this tragedy).
What sets this apart from your typical documentary are the graphic visuals, photos, and dialogue spread out on the screen over the photographic images like Ralph Steadman's H.S.T. verbal artillery or 'Yellow Submarine' speech splattering, lending movement to what would otherwise be much more static and sedate. It flows along so well that it seems the ending comes too soon, and that can't be a bad thing in a documentary, now can it? No matter how many hours of video you have of Lennon and the Beatles, this dvd brings something different and welcome to the table. Commemorating the final decade in the life of one of the 20th Century's most influential and uniquely important figures, it proves that even today, Lennon remains relevant and will be forever missed, though with us always. Long Live Lennon.