Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, Angela Davis, Ron Kovic, G. Gordon Liddy, George McGovern, Yoko Ono, Geraldo Rivera, Gore Vidal, John Lennon (archive footage)
Written by: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
Directed by: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language, violent images and drug references
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/31/2006
IMDB

The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Watching the Wheels

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

David Leaf and John Scheinfeld's documentary tells the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono post-Beatles and living in New York, where their artistic and political activities (including friendships with Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale) roused the ire of right-wing conservatives. Of course, Leaf and Sheinfeld present the material in the usual PBS-friendly way, with archival footage, Lennon's music and modern-day interviews with an impressive gallery of commentators: Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, Angela Davis, Ron Kovic, G. Gordon Liddy, George McGovern, Yoko Ono, Geraldo Rivera and Gore Vidal. And instead of gliding the camera over the photos in the usual Ken Burns-ian way, the filmmakers digitize them and manipulate their sizes and spatial fields. The entire point is not so much to vindicate John Lennon, but to draw parallels between the wartime government of the 1970s and the wartime government of today. This passive approach can be infuriating, but the film still covers some very interesting ground.

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