Thursday, April 17, 2014
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John Lennon: They Say It's Your Birthday

Not ordinarily a fan of anniversary journalism. But on the occasion of what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday (and the eve of the 30th anniversary of his death) come two movies, the melancholy Nowhere Boy, a memorable portrait of teenage John torn between his reliable Aunt Mimi and unstable mother Julia, and LennonNYC, an account of Lennon's final years in his adoptive Manhattan.

John Lennon: They Say It's Your Birthday

John Lennon in "A Hard Day´s Night"
John Lennon in "A Hard Day's Night"

Not ordinarily a fan of anniversary journalism. But on the occasion of what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday (and the eve of the 30th anniversary of his death) come two movies, the melancholy Nowhere Boy, a memorable portrait of teenage John torn between his reliable Aunt Mimi and unstable mother Julia, and LennonNYC, an account of Lennon's final years in his adoptive Manhattan. I've seen and very much like Nowhere Boy, which opens October 15 in Philadelphia. And I look forward to LennonNYC, shown the following week at The Philadelphia Film Festival (Friday October 22 at the Prince Music Theater and Sun the 24th at the Rave/UPenn).

As fans of A Hard Days Night -- that definitive rock film -- know, John was a natural actor, commanding the screen with sarcasm and slapstick. The sequence where he takes a bubble bath and apparently vanishes down the drain strikes me as the Buster Keaton scene that  Mr. Stoneface never thought of. Whether encouraged by Yoko Ono, his performance-artist wife, or out of his own interest in keeping a visual diary, Lennon had over 240 hours of filmed footage of himself, some of it culled in the 1988 documentary John Lennon: Imagine.

I also very much like the many speculative Beatles portraits such as The Hours and Times (1991), with the young Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein on a Spanish holiday. And  Backbeat (1993), with Ian Hart as puppy Lennon in Hamburg with fifth Beatle Stu Sutcliffe. My personal favorite is Two of Us (2000), with Jared Harris and Aidan Quinn as the post-Beatles Lennon and McCartney, considering a Beatles reunion and gamboling through Central Park. It was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who also made the definitive Beatles documentary Let it Be (1971), and has a very John vibe. I'm also a fan of Julie Taymor's Across the Universe (2008), which uses Beatles music and a John-like main character (named Jude) to tell the surrealistic story of '60s pop and politics.

Any John movies that I'm forgetting? Your favorite(s)? Tell me why. 

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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