As we approach the seventieth anniversary of John Lennon’s birth (as well as the twenty year anniversary of his death) there are a number of releases which celebrate his life and music and one notable film, “LENNONYC,” which looks specifically at the Englishman’s time in New York. The film is part of the American Masters series and is written and directed by Emmy winner Michael Epstein and it gives a very personal look at John’s New York years and the turmoil and highpoints of the last years of his life.
In August 1971, Lennon and Ono arrived in Manhattan to escape the fallout from The Beatles breakup and they grew to love the freedom that the city offered. The documentary looks at the music Lennon produced in the ensuing years, a good deal of which was recorded at the Record Plant on West 44th Street, as well as the legal and personal issues experienced, his deportation case and John’s “lost weekend” away from Yoko foremost among them. For Lennon fans much of the information may be well known to you but some of the moments are given a personal touch when told through friends such as: Elton John, photographer Bob Gruen, a number of the musicians that worked with him, and of course Yoko Ono. What we see is a truly three-dimensional portrait of the former Beatle complete with all his flaws and his triumphs as he tried to open minds and make music while getting by himself.