John Lennon, too many, is the most influential musician of the last century. He led the one of the most iconic bands of all time into the history books and then followed it up as a symbol for peace as war divided the country. Yet the years John spent after the Beatles with Yoko Ono has always been entangled with controversy and never truly been examined in depth, until now. Working from a vault of rare studio outtakes and a plethora of never before seen personal films, LENNONYC is a rare and personal glimpse into the life of John Lennon as both a musician in his post-Beatles phase of his career and, perhaps more importantly, a father and loving human being.
Michael Epstein has crafted a pitch perfect portrait of Lennon as an artist finding redemption not from the spotlight he craved so dearly as a young aspiring musician, but rather from the gratifying humanistic side of being a father. When Lennon came to New York City in 1971, he was looking for what any other person does when they get to this country, freedom. The world was changing at a rapid rate while division spread throughout the USA. Lennon’s vocal opinion against the Vietnam War made him an easy target for the Nixon administration, who proceeded to bully the former Beatle out of the country via the FBI and INS by tapping his phone calls and documenting his every move.
One of the amazing elements that gives LENNONYC such life is the candid and insightful interview Yoko Ono delivers, in part because of her close relationship with the filmmaker. Her remarks on the time period contrasted by actually hearing and seeing Lennon through photographs or studio outtakes is remarkable. There are some truly amazing moments of Lennon’s life captured and explained in detail ranging from stories about performing with Elton John, running off to California with May Pang and hanging out with the likes of Andy Warhol and other luminaries in NYC.
Never before have we seen this intimate or human a portrait of Lennon while in the twilight of adulthood embracing fatherhood properly for the first time. It’s also equally tragic in that it’s a somber reminder of how quickly we lost one of the last generations most important figures in not just music but history. Still, the movie weighs heavily on the optimism that Lennon finally discovered in himself after Sean was born. More importantly, it’s another testament to how amazing Lennon the musician was and will always be.
8 out 10.
What did you think of LENNONYC? Do you plan on checking it out?
BAMCinématek A new series entitled “Black & White ’Scope: American Cinema” commences this weekend, and, as for the series itself, with a Wilder double-bill on Friday: The Apartment and One, Two, Three. Manhattan screens on Saturday, while The Hustler can be seen this Sunday. Museum of the Moving Image The Gordon Willis tribute concludes with […]
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