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84 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary about a specific timeframe in Lennon's life
Of all the important musicians in the last century, it's pretty easy to see that John Lennon stands out for his influence on music, pop culture, and society in general. Lennon himself - his music and activism - along with their effects on the world, have been well documented in countless short and feature-length documentaries. Now American Masters - "an ongoing series of...
Published on November 17, 2010 by Z. Freeman

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lennon NYC
I was very disappointed with the DVD because I thought I was getting the John Lennon special in NYC that was played on PBS. No doubt my mistake.
Published 10 months ago by Pat A


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84 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary about a specific timeframe in Lennon's life, November 17, 2010
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
Of all the important musicians in the last century, it's pretty easy to see that John Lennon stands out for his influence on music, pop culture, and society in general. Lennon himself - his music and activism - along with their effects on the world, have been well documented in countless short and feature-length documentaries. Now American Masters - "an ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists" - takes on the subject of John Lennon and his time in New York City. The series has featured Andy Warhol, Charlie Chaplin, and Paul Simon, among others.

This Lennon profile is special in that it's not a documentary about his entire life, but as the title suggests, focuses on his time in New York City with Yoko Ono, using numerous interviews with friends and bandmates along with never before-released in-studio recordings of Lennon. This is a documentary that assumes you already know quite a bit about Lennon and know why his time in New York is important and then goes on to both explain why this is true and give you a behind the scenes look at his life at this time. Without glossing over any of the rough patches (including the hiatus John and Yoko took and his subsequent time in Los Angeles), writer and director Michael Epstein gives audiences a true portrait of the legendary musician and activist as seen through the eyes of those around him (including Yoko Ono) and captured in in-studio recording sessions.

The film is thoroughly engaging, though not always structurally clear. Epstein begins with the story of Lennon as an immigrant, looking to make New York City his home though the United States government (the Nixon administration to be more specific) is seeking to get him deported for his various activist causes. This is an intriguing theme, and we're privy to many of those around him discussing being followed and the FBI keeping records on them, but this storyline builds quickly and then goes on the backburner for over an hour before reappearing briefly at the very end. It's an incredible part of Lennon's story and well presented, but Epstein plays up Lennon's immigration status so much in the opening that I always felt like I was waiting for that piece of the story to come back into play. The best parts of the film are the clips of Lennon in the studio and those around him discussing his studio style. Listening to Lennon in the studio is even more fascinating than you might suspect.

The portion of the film (near the end) that deals with John's time after mending ties with Yoko, the birth of his son Sean, and the work on his last album is especially touching. As with any Lennon documentary, the ending left me wishing that there was a documentary about some alternate universe where Lennon was still alive so that the ending didn't have to be so sad.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John: The New York Years (1971-1980), November 24, 2010
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
Here's a documentary that exclusively chronicles John's post-Imagine life which, until now, seemed to be the most glaringly overlooked era of his existence on film. There's footage from previous documentary sources, but it's necessary in tracing John's story moving from England in August 1971 to New York City. John's life during this nine-year period is addressed seriously and intelligently and is spiced with interviews from those that knew him best at that time.

This invites the audience to contemplate his struggles through his political regime. His agenda inclines him into staging concerts for humanitarian issues: the "Ten For Two Concert" in 1971 and the "One To One Concert" in 1972. And it's in this year that John and Yoko are being blacklisted by the Nixon Administration and the FBI for the subversive nature of their political views. The deportation process is well outlined here. What makes this part of his story so incredible is that his influence is so strong that he's able to rankle the sensibilities of the U.S. officials in power for the next few years. Topping all this is a pointed interview with Yoko indicating that the downward spiral in their marriage leading to their eventual separation germinated on the evening that Nixon defeated George McGovern.

The next year and a half will show John and Yoko coming to terms with their separation. Producer Jack Douglas provides fascinating tidbits of John's popcraft as he explains John's compositional and lyrical techniques during the making of "Mind Games". There's fine footage on that evening at Elton John's Madison Square Garden performance when the reconciliation between John and Yoko gets underway.

The film essays the spirit that, in the last five years of John's life, he actually has a sense of belonging - particularly telling once Sean is born. It's made more clear that by 1980, John had come full circle and he seemed revitalized in making interesting music again while securing his family life. Although this omits interviews with Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon, the value of this film is that it offers a display of the charismatic hold that John exerts on his fanbase well past that fateful night. A worthy addition to what may be a much-shared knowledge.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Journey Of An Artist And A Man--A Fitting Tribute To Lennon's Last Decade, November 23, 2010
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's death, there is quite a bit of new material being produced. As the BBC has just released "Lennon Naked," a fictionalized bio-pic of John's tumultuous last years in England--this accomplished documentary by Michael Epstein takes up right where that piece left off. (I mention this only because I happened to watch them in conjunction, not that it has any relevance to this particular item). Initially, "LennoNYC" starts out as a real love letter to New York City--and I thought that this might be an intriguing and different approach. Within a couple of minutes, though, this documentary settles into a familiar chronological framework and begins to recount the last decade of Lennon's life. Lennon, being a public personality, obviously has tons of archival footage to utilize. Epstein has done a nice job integrating actual press footage, home movies, and modern day interviews to flesh out a complicated artist on a journey to contentment.

"LennoNYC" can essentially be broken into four segments, but of course there is some overlap:
1) Activism: The sequence of Lennon's arrival and first years in NYC is populated with much political and social activity. From the awareness rallies to the immigration department's effort to deport Lennon and Ono--there is a idealism at work to change the system. When Nixon gets reelected, Lennon's despondency leads to the next phase represented in the documentary.
2) Artistry: Lennon separates from Yoko Ono after a very public infidelity and heads to drunken debauchery as a recording artist in Los Angeles. He won't return to New York again until he is sober and ready move on to more serious matters.
3) Domesticity: Reunited with Ono and happy at home with his new son Sean, Lennon withdraws from the music scene. His obvious joy with Sean is touching (poor Julian rates a 30 second mention).
4) Contentment: Lennon is putting it all together--awareness, music, and family life for once seem to balance and everything seems on tract. There is obviously a bittersweet quality to this last segment as we know what is to come.

"LennoNYC" doesn't break any new ground as a film and, in truth, doesn't offer too much in new material. Of course, Lennon is one of the most documented figures of the last 50 years--so it's no surprise! But Epstein's documentary is an effective and affecting portrait of Lennon's last years. It doesn't shy away from some of Lennon's more unpleasant moments, but I think it was both hopeful and uplifting. A fitting tribute to an artist, who while not always likable, came to a place of serenity. Lennon's legacy and legend remain a unique and poignant part of history. KGHarris, 11/10.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saw This On PBS The Other Night & Enjoyed It Very Much!!, November 26, 2010
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
I DVR'd this documentary the other night while I was doing my pre-thanksgiving cooking.
On thanksgiving day, after all the cooking was done and the family was engorged with food,
I stole away upstairs to watch this from my recliner and though it didn't really hit on many
things that I didn't already know about Lennon during this period, the final decade of his life,
I did think it was done well and yes, I would and will buy it for my collection.
I just liked John Lennon's whole vibe and what he stood for in his life.
The other reviewers have already articulated alot of the particulars, so I kept mine
straight to the point! (-:
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Imagine' if he were still with us..., June 2, 2011
This review is from: Lennon NYC [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
[LENNONYC - (2010) - approx.115 min. - fullscreen presentation - written and directed by Michael Epstein] A highly interesting and reverential documentary detailing Lennon's year's in America - no Beatlemania, no Fab Four, no childhood pics, art school or 'Cavern days' rehashing, no speculation or innuendo and, no sappy emotional brouhaha elevating Lennon to Godlike status. Here we are treated to hearing about the man who had it all but was bored, tired and weary of London, seeking the other modern-day 'Rome', New York, and feeling extremely at home there in his own words. We get to hear about some lesser-known facets of his life in NYC, from those who knew him well - long-time friend and photographer Bob Gruen, recording engineer and producer Roy Cicala, the guys in Elephant's Memory, whose band he fell into after producing their album for Apple records, a surprisingly direct and emotional Yoko, producer Jack Douglas ('Double Fantasy'), and bandmates Klaus Voorman, Andy Newmark and Jim Keltner, among others. We hear about his weaknesses as a man as well as his strengths as a composer, artist and human being.

It sheds more light on this chapter in John's life than any video representation that preceded it. There's the induction and swift exit into the civil rights revolts spearheaded by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the 'Free John Sinclair' rally (whose audio and video have finally been remastered), the appearance with Elton at Madison Square Garden in '75, the years fighting deportation, the hatred Nixon and Hoover had for him in these deportation nightmares (and vice-versa), his 'lost weeks' in L.A. with Harry Nillson, Keith Moon, Ringo and Paul McCartney, previously unheard studio versions and rehearsals, musical cues from John, comments, banter, arguments and screaming matches with Phil Spector, self-imposed retirement and life as a father and househusband with infant Sean, and the return to the Record Plant to resume his career, criminally cut-short by his assassination in 1980 on his 40th birthday. (Thankfully, not much time is spent dwelling on this tragedy).

What sets this apart from your typical documentary are the graphic visuals, photos, and dialogue spread out on the screen over the photographic images like Ralph Steadman's H.S.T. verbal artillery or 'Yellow Submarine' speech splattering, lending movement to what would otherwise be much more static and sedate. It flows along so well that it seems the ending comes too soon, and that can't be a bad thing in a documentary, now can it? No matter how many hours of video you have of Lennon and the Beatles, this dvd brings something different and welcome to the table. Commemorating the final decade in the life of one of the 20th Century's most influential and uniquely important figures, it proves that even today, Lennon remains relevant and will be forever missed, though with us always. Long Live Lennon.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "John would often say, 'I should've been born in New York City.'"--Yoko Ono, December 26, 2010
By 
mwreview "mwreview" (Northern California, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
Lennon NYC is an hour and fifty-one minute documentary that quickly covers Lennon's time in New York from his arrival in 1971 until his murder in 1980. It begins with clips from the Double Fantasy sessions (his final album) and interviews with the musicians who worked with him on that album. Clips from the poorly received Some Time In New York City as well as Mind Games and Walls and Bridges are also included in the film.

Lennon and Yoko Ono came to New York City to escape England where they, Ono in particular, were treated badly by the English press. New York offered them a sense of freedom and the opportunity to reinvent themselves. As is noted in this documentary, Lennon was happy to be able to find a jacket at a trendy clothing store in New York, pay for it, and leave without any hassle. But they also arrived during a time of activism and war resistance. This documentary describes Lennon's connection with activists Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and Rennie Davis which lead to years of deportation threats, phone tapping, and shadowing by the federal government. Lennon did have supporters in government, though, including a congressmen who wrote a letter read by Lennon on the Dick Cavett Show supporting his use of the N-word in the song "Woman is the N----- of the World."

This reviewer gained a greater respect for Yoko Ono who has many interview clips in this documentary. When John cheated on her, she showed that she could move on with herself and her career without him. She also would not allow John--who fell into drink--to return to her until he was ready. The nicest parts of the documentary for this reviewer are when John and Yoko got back together following Lennon's concert with Elton John in New York (Elton John also appears in interview clips in this documentary). Lennon won his deportation case, celebrated his 35th birthday and the birth of his son Sean on the same day. After that, he took a hiatus from the music business to became a house husband for a few years and this film offers home movies and audio clips of John with his little boy.

More clips from the Double Fantasy sessions are presented. Lennon went back to his early rock 'n roll roots and was writing songs for his generation. Yoko Ono finally received good reviews for her songs on the album. Then, of course, December 8, 1980 happened. The documentary does not dwell on his death. Yoko Ono and others give their reactions that day but then it shifts to a reflection on his work. Although the film is almost two hours, it moves very quickly. There are no bonuses on this disc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Documentary On The John & Yoko Years, February 15, 2011
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
John Lennon's story has so many different facets that it's actually more effective to treat them rather seperately. His creaive awakenings during The Beatles of course is highly well documented in The Beatles Anthology and the events in his life that formed him in the beginning got a similar treatment in Nowhere Boy. All the same much about his life with Yoko Ono after the breakup of The Beatles has been shrowded in mystery and speculative thinking on many sides. This extremely well done documentary film looks to give a well balanced and unbiased look at this era of John Lennon's life,covering the years emmediatly following the demise of The Beatles all the way up to his tragic murder one decade later. And that is the decade that defines this presentation.

We begin with John and Yoko decamping to New York after over a year of complete harrassment and mistreatment by the British press about the marriage. John finds himself in love with the city upon arrival and emmediatly takes up with two "yippie" icons of the period,Jerry Rubin and Abbey Hoffman with whom he becomes intensely involved in terms of politics. During this time he manages to not only record a controversial and deeply political album with Yoko called Sometime In New York City but also manages to free the imprisoned John Sinclair and attempting to assist newly registered voters during the first election in which 18 year olds were allowed to do so. Although during the turbulant Nixon/Watergate era Lennon not only found himself on the presidents enemy list but found himself in an ongoing battle to gain his US residency and green card. These events take a toll on John's already trouble personal psyce and a public display of ludeness results in a two year seperation from Ono.

While Yoko becomes highly creatively successful during this time John finds himself basically a derilict urban junkie/drunk in LA during what he called his "lost weekend". In a way it was a one off onstage appearance with mutual admirirer Elton John that reunited John and Yoko. Of course before you know it they are starting a family with their child Sean as well as John's success at receiving his green card. Much has been said on both sides about John's actions during the remainder of the 70's,lately much of it on the negative side. This docu clearly takes the side that John was genuinely committed to being the "house husband" he presented himself to be while Yoko handled all the business dealings. He became self consciously a private person,a non leader during the years after the birth of John and until his musical comeback with Yoko on Double Fantasy which,as this pointed out actually presented John in something of a more retro rock MOR mode and Yoko as a modern musical innovator on the cutting edge of the new wave sound.

Of course we know where this ends;John's murder at the time where his life was finally starting to look up. Nor I or many people out there have much of an idea of every single aspect of his life as a family man in the Dakota during his final years. Not only does this discuss his life at the time but also covers in great detail the music he was making during all of these events and how it was always indelibly linked with his life. Over the years there have been many attempts to document the life of John Lennon in every conceivable variety of documentary and feature film and in most cases they've ended up either incomplete or highly bias. But during 2010,at which time John would've turned 70 both this and the film Nowhere Boy both give two of the most broad and well conseived outlooks on two seperate aspects of John's life and provide excellent insight into the sources of both his musical creativity and inner sanctum.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-See Movie for Lennon Fans, December 12, 2010
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This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
This is one of the most engaging and interesting documentaries of John Lennon I've seen. This A&E documentary explores Lennon and his wife Yoko's life in New York and his "lost weekend" in L.A. This is a great watch for anyone who loves Lennon, or even the Beatles.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Journey Of An Artist And A Man: A Fitting Tribute To Lennon's Last Decade, August 13, 2012
As we've arrived at the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's death, there is quite a bit of new material being produced. As the BBC has just released "Lennon Naked," a fictionalized bio-pic of John's tumultuous last years in England--this accomplished documentary by Michael Epstein takes up right where that piece left off. (I mention this only because I happened to watch them in conjunction, not that it has any relevance to this particular item). Initially, "LennoNYC" starts out as a real love letter to New York City--and I thought that this might be an intriguing and different approach. Within a couple of minutes, though, this documentary settles into a familiar chronological framework and begins to recount the last decade of Lennon's life. Lennon, being a public personality, obviously has tons of archival footage to utilize. Epstein has done a nice job integrating actual press footage, home movies, and modern day interviews to flesh out a complicated artist on a journey to contentment.

"LennoNYC" can essentially be broken into four segments, but of course there is some overlap:
1) Activism: The sequence of Lennon's arrival and first years in NYC is populated with much political and social activity. From the awareness rallies to the immigration department's effort to deport Lennon and Ono--there is a idealism at work to change the system. When Nixon gets reelected, Lennon's despondency leads to the next phase represented in the documentary.
2) Artistry: Lennon separates from Yoko Ono after a very public infidelity and heads to drunken debauchery as a recording artist in Los Angeles. He won't return to New York again until he is sober and ready move on to more serious matters.
3) Domesticity: Reunited with Ono and happy at home with his new son Sean, Lennon withdraws from the music scene. His obvious joy with Sean is touching (poor Julian rates a 30 second mention).
4) Contentment: Lennon is putting it all together--awareness, music, and family life for once seem to balance and everything seems on tract. There is obviously a bittersweet quality to this last segment as we know what is to come.

"LennoNYC" doesn't break any new ground as a film and, in truth, doesn't offer too much in new material. Of course, Lennon is one of the most documented figures of the last 50 years--so it's no surprise! But Epstein's documentary is an effective and affecting portrait of Lennon's last years. It doesn't shy away from some of Lennon's more unpleasant moments, but I think it was both hopeful and uplifting. A fitting tribute to an artist, who while not always likable, came to a place of serenity. Lennon's legacy and legend remain a unique and poignant part of history. KGHarris, 11/10.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lennon & New York City, December 15, 2010
This review is from: Lennon NYC (DVD)
Lennonyc is yet another great film from the PBS American Masters series. Directed and produced by Michael Epstein, the film focuses on the years John Lennon spent in New York City from 1971-1980. It shows pretty much all the details of his life from this period including his on going immigration problems to his separation from Yoko in his Lost Weekend years in Los Angeles to the recording of the music he made during this time. There are clips of footage from his concert at Madison Square Garden in '72 which is his one and only full length concert during the 70's (there are audio clips & pictures of his final time on stage ever at MSG with Elton John) as well as home videos of his time with Sean as a house husband. Mr. Epstein has gathered an impressive list of interviewees to give their special insight into Mr. Lennon including those who knew his best like Yoko Ono, photographer and friend Bob Gruen (who took the famous photo of Mr. Lennon with the New York City shirt), members of his one time backing band Elephant's Memory, his immigration attorney Leon Wildes, Elton John and many others. This is a fascinating account of not only John Lennon, but of New York City during one of its most turbulent decades.
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Lennon NYC
Lennon NYC by tbd (DVD - 2010)
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