As Chris Chang, of "Film Comment," put it: "Before Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban there was John Lennon."
The documentary about the legendary musician is now out on DVD. It played in art houses a few months back. The film is not nominated for an Oscar (well, like that means anything), and it was not chosen as one of the top 50 films of the year by "Film Comment." I have also not seen the film.
But, it seems like it is one of these poignant efforts to parallel an event from our past to the present. Social conservatives may think I am about to make another allegory between Vietnam and Iraq. However, one could also say we are now fighting a war at home as many who opposed the Vietnam War did back then. And, there are cultural icons who have spoken out in both instances.
Yesterday, it may have been Lenon, Joan Baez and Jane Fonda. Today, it is the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn and well- Jane Fonda. But, there is also opposition to further troop deployment in Iraq being voiced by the likes of Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Cong. Howard Cobbell (R-NC).
In his brief on the documentary about the Beatles star, Chang said the film illustrates how Lennon was perceived as such a threat that memos about him were scrutinized by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover, H.R. Haldeman and even Pres. Richard Nixon.
Chang adds that co-directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld don't really add anything new about the Lennon story. But, the Nashville-based critic said that the film's story, its relevance to today's political atmosphere and interviews with the likes of '60s activist Bobby Seale, make the film worthwhile.
It is available for rental from Netflix and other outlets. It is a LionsGate release. Retail: $27.98
Other new DVD releases of interest include Lewis Milestone's 1930 anti-war epic "All Quiet on the Western Front" (an actual good film that has won a Best Picture Oscar), the documentary "Shut Up and Sing" about the Dixie Chicks' political battle with conservative country music radio and in the guilty pleasure which may lead to divorce court dept., there is Michael Crichton's (yes, the "Jurassic Park" author has directed a few films) 1981 film "Looker."
"Looker" features a very sexy Susan Dey, of "L.A. Law" fame. In a review about the film which deals with gorgeous models that hawk products and political candidates, Leonard Maltin wrote the following: "Intriguing premise is illogically and boringly handled." BTW, Maltin rated the film a bomb. It also features a cameo by a then-unknown Vanna White. And, lastly, I happened to see the film on Showtime when I was teenager in the mid-'80s. I loved it at the time. I probably would not, if I saw it today!