The U.S. vs. John Lennon David Leaf and John Scheinfeld

The Beatles have been arguably the most examined figures in human history, so it seems unlikely that yet another documentary would have anything more to add, but The U.S. Vs. John Lennon does a surprisingly good job of illuminating the political side of Lennon - and does so by going beyond the bed-ins and "Give Peace A Chance.” The Nixon administration considered Lennon a threat, and in fact tried to deport him from the U.S. for longer than a year around 1972 before finally backing off. It wasn’t Lennon’s catchy tunes that were the issue (though his hold over the imagination of the world’s youth wasn’t ignored), it was his burgeoning post-Beatles friendships with more radical figures that concerned government officials. Having "bagism” press conferences and staying in bed were the acts of art-focused hippies, they recognised, but when Lennon started dipping into his not-shallow financial pockets for friends like the Black Panther Party, the government got a little edgier about this "foreigner” in their midst. The doc benefits greatly from the participation of Yoko Ono and includes numerous film clips and Lennon solo songs to illustrate various points. On DVD, almost another hour of bonus footage showcases material that wanders off the doc’s more focused thesis: comparing George W. with Nixon, examining the controversial Two Virgins album cover, Ono reading her 2000 letter to a parole board over the release of the "subject” convicted of her husband’s murder. It may place too much emphasis musically on tripe like "Give Peace A Chance,” while relegating "Power to the People” to the extras, but this isn’t the act of hagiography that it could have easily become, and that’s a good thing.