The U.S. vs. John Lennon Reviews

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution
May 12, 2007
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
November 24, 2006
By the time The U.S. vs. John Lennon is done, the filmmakers have reinforced the sense that pop music once produced prophets, as well as profits.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 24, 2006
Lennon's spirit, like his music, shines through this movie like a beacon.
| Original Score: 3/4
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David Jenkins
Time Out
October 28, 2006
The film paints with swaggeringly broad strokes, the basic thesis being Lennon = good, government = bad.
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
October 12, 2006
Humanizing Lennon to those who might find the man a bit inaccessible, and adding the word 'courage' to his long list of positive attributes.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 30, 2006
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 29, 2006
Documentarians David Leaf and John Scheinfeld go beyond the usual glibness, revealing a much fuller portrait of the man.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 29, 2006
Though Lennon's commitment to a peaceful world is vivid and unquestionable, The U.S. vs. John Lennon ultimately emerges as a picture of a different kind of commitment: a love story.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
September 29, 2006
Concentrates on Lennon's post-Beatles years, in which he did a lot of great work that's overlooked today, and it's good to have a lot shown on that period.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
September 29, 2006
The film's first half has zero to do with its title, and its second half digs up familiar turf.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 29, 2006
The aim may be laudable, but nothing gets hit except some awfully tired targets. And fatigue doesn't resonate.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 29, 2006
Entertaining, and a history lesson in hysteria (both on the side of Nixon and the protest movement) for people who were not there.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
September 29, 2006
Probably should be seen as an addendum to a much larger story of turmoil in the U.S., but it does have something that elevates a now-familiar story of protest and dissent: plenty of footage of Lennon and lots of Lennon's music.
| Original Score: B
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Michael Booth
Denver Post
September 29, 2006
Works by reminding us of Lennon's best qualities: His impish, imperturbable sense of humor, his quick intelligence, his successful bantering with a hostile crush of world press mercenaries.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
September 29, 2006
His life has been raked over by so many books, movies, magazine articles, and TV shows that The U.S. vs. John Lennon barely justifies its own existence.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 29, 2006
The documentary's a hagiography, no mistake about it, but a fascinating one all the same, and it makes the case that Lennon was as much a genius provocateur as he was a cracked saint.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
September 28, 2006
Readers tempted to write off that episode as yet another paranoid fantasy of The Left should take heed: The U.S. vs. John Lennon includes the firsthand testimony of the spies themselves, from apostate FBI agents to the unapologetic G. Gordon Liddy.
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Dan DeLuca
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 28, 2006
It's full-up with footage that shows the hero of the Yoko Ono-sanctioned film to be as witty, entertaining and dependably charismatic as ever, and rarely as simple-minded as his detractors would have it.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
September 28, 2006
It's a movie that, at its best, makes you ache with the memory of an anguished era and its fallen pop culture hero.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 26, 2006
Those hoping for something hard-hitting won't find it here. This is strictly on the level of what one might uncover during a VH1 special.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
September 23, 2006
It feels as if [Ono's] cooperation resulted in a softened perspective on the musician-turned- activist-turned-icon.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
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Nathan Rabin
AV Club
September 22, 2006
...the film feels like an unintentional parody of liberal documentaries that transform complex topics into elaborate cinematic peace signs.
Full Review | Original Score: D-
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
September 20, 2006
In exploring a little-known story of political persecution, The U.S. vs. John Lennon also sheds some unexpected light on the uneven and still undigested career of one of the most paradoxical artists pop culture has yet produced.
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Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
September 15, 2006
Imagine a naive, simplistic documentary about the most complex, cynical member of the Beatles.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 15, 2006
Documents the Nixon administration's failed, almost comically inept attempt to deport the most political of The Beatles and his wife, Yoko Ono.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
September 15, 2006
While there is nothing particularly new in the film, it is a stirring celebration of a man of enormous talent, humor and humanity, laid waste by an assassin in New York in 1980.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Sam Adams
Los Angeles Times
September 15, 2006
There's little sign of the honest ambivalence that made Lennon a great artist, if a questionable spokesman.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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John Payne
L.A. Weekly
September 14, 2006
A gripping and moving homage that brings in some new-old faces to flank the usual suspects in telling the story of Lennon and his badgering by the FBI.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
September 14, 2006
Loosely organized but still fascinating.
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Gene Seymour
Newsday
September 14, 2006
What gives the film its spine is the presence of Lennon himself as an articulate, earnest and magnetic social conscience.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 14, 2006
Makes the case that, in just about every way that counted, Lennon was a better person than Richard M. Nixon.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 13, 2006
The U.S. vs. John Lennon is the easy-listening version of a firebrand documentary; nothing in it is as incendiary as its title.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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J. Hoberman
Village Voice
September 5, 2006
This David Leaf-John Scheinfeld production is not only poignant but even topical.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
August 31, 2006
A few new insights into Nixon administration criminality amid old news and favorite John Lennon tunes.
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Phil Gallo
Variety
August 31, 2006
The storyline follows the Ono-approved bio that posits Lennon as saint, excising his dark periods and their years apart, which could have enhanced the portrait.