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

Today the Dixie Chicks and Bono speak their political minds, but this period piece on John Lennon makes them look tepid by comparison. Everyone remembers Lennon as a musical genius, but beyond music-making he crafted a savvy and principled political persona that found its reason for being in protesting the Vietnam war (in which two million Vietnamese died). The soundtrack will bring goose bumps to baby boomers, as will the archival footage of the war in Southeast Asia and protests at home, the cast of characters, including Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Angela Davis and Bobbie Seale, and Yoko Ono's retrospective reflections. Only the last third of this documentary deals with the film's title, the five year effort of the Nixon administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport Lennon, along with the harassment and intimidation of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. In the end Lennon won permanent residency after Nixon's landslide victory in 1972. When a reporter asked if he bore any grudges, Lennon replied, "No, I believe time wounds all heels." This film wanders in ways both good and bad, and is better at documenting the pervasive cultural turmoil than the specific legal case against Lennon, but it makes you wonder where serious political protest has gone.

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