While it goes over a lot of ground already covered in numerous other documentaries, LENNONYC has one major advantage. It doesn’t just talk about John the activist, John the iconoclast, John the reformed philanderer and John the family man, but most importantly, John the musician. The film is at its best when focussing on that aspect on John’s life.
Naturally, the film has to deal with stories previously told, such as John’s flirtation with the yippie movement and problems with immigration and the FBI. Also, despite being primarily about John’s love affair with New York, the film gives just as much time to the “lost weekend” period in Los Angeles, much of which has been gone over before.
Many of the usual suspects are interviewed, including Elliot Mintz, May Pang and the ubiquitous Geraldo Rivera but things get interesting when they talk to the musicians who played with John through the 70s. Even when it’s Jim Keltner talking about John’s drinking in LA, or members of Elephant’s Memory talking about having their ’phones tapped too, it brings a perspective that previous films haven’t shown. Producer Jack Douglas and Yoko’s recollections of what they did on the evenings following John’s death are particularly moving.
The film could stand to be about twenty minutes shorter but it does bring a new angle to the story of Lennon in the US, from participants who aren’t usually heard.
Highlight: Recollections from musicians about making the albums and studio banter.
Feature: * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby Stereo