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Featured Blu-ray Review: LennonNYC

January 10th, 2011

LennonNYC - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

LennonNYC is a documentary about John Lennon's days in New York City in the 1970s. It played in a few film festivals, aired on TV back in November and was relased on DVD in December. Now it's coming out on Blu-ray, but is it worth the upgrade?

The Show

After the Beatles broke up, many unfairly blamed Yoko Ono and her relationship with John Lennon for the split. Even members of the press were attacking her. It go so bad, that the couple decided to leave England and move to New York City. LennonNYC takes a look at those years, starting with the reasons they moved, them joining the anti-war movements, the political ramifications of joining the anti-war movement, etc. (It's amazing how much resources the government wasted following around a bunch of musicians and artists. I wonder who the government is following around today?) We hear about the toll this took on him, and on his relationship with Yoko, his "banishment" to Los Angeles, and his spiral downward that resulted, as well as his triumphant return to New York City.

There are a number of new interviews with many people who were part of his circle at the time, from members of his band, fellow anti-war protesters, etc. There are also a lot of archival interviews with John Lennon and an excellent balance of music. You couldn't have a documentary about John Lennon without having music, and there are some great recording studio behind-the-scenes, with plenty of people reminiscing. However, there's not so much music that it feels like the music is more important than the story.

This movie was made in part to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon and it is a success. It is a celebration, and while it does touch on the period referred to as his "lost weekend" (which actually lasted a year and a half) it might be considered a little one-sided by some. It's not a dark exposé, but it would have been inappropriate if it had been.

The Extras

There are several deleted scenes from the film, with a total running time of about 20 minutes. The longest of which is eight minutes of people talking about where they were and how they felt when they learned John Lennon was killed. It was probably not included in the final film for pacing reasons, but it is certainly a worthy extra. This does mean there are no additional extras when compared with the previously released DVD. Additionally, since a lot of the material is archival, the video quality is mixed. A lot of the video is 30 to 40 years old, so you can't expect it to be pristine. On the other hand, it also makes it hard to expect someone to pay 40% more than the DVD.

The Verdict

LennonNYC is absolutely worth picking up for fans of John Lennon, and for some, the rare and unreleased recording studio segments will be enough to buy the documentary. However, I'm unsure whether or not the Blu-ray is worth picking up over the previously released DVD, while if you bought the DVD last month, it's not worth the upgrade.

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