I should tell you upfront that I am a huge Beatles fan. I was
very young when they were big, but I had three older brothers who were teens
then, and my mom liked them as well. So I grew up listening to their music. When
I got older, I got even more into them. I collected their albums, watched all
the movies I could get about them, and read all the books I could find about
them. I don't have all of their life stories memorized, but I remember quite a
bit of what I read. I even went to Beatles in the 80's and 90's, and met
some of their friends and family members, and even dressed up like them (just
like scifi fans do). I even have a
webpage about them.
Paul is my favorite, but I like them all. I was really excited
to hear about this new HBO movie, "Lennon Naked", and that I would be getting a
copy to review. I was also ecstatic that Christopher Eccleston stars in it,
since I loved him in Doctor Who. Perhaps I just had too much excitement
built up, and I couldn't help but be disappointed.
The flaws of the movie are in the writing and direction, I'm
sorry to say. Eccleston is brilliant and does wonders with what they give him.
He is almost flawless as Lennon (his nose is a little too big, especially when
we first see him with the Beatles moptop, and he is a bit too old to be playing
a man in his 20's). He really throws himself into it, and they do a pretty good
job of making him looking like John (and with the other players as well).
The movie is about John's life from 1964 (when the Beatles got
really big) to about 1971 when he leaves England to move to the U.S. I think
they are trying to show how he had so many troubles, being famous, and so many
hang-ups from his childhood, but then he was able to overcome them, with therapy
and with the love of Yoko Ono.
Unfortunately, we all know that when they went to New York City,
he and Yoko split, and he still had many problems. He got into a lot of trouble,
went drinking a lot, cheated on her, and may have had more heroin problems,
before he finally did settle down to be a good husband father. So ending it in
1971 as if that is a happy ending is a little strange.
The other thing that doesn't quite work is to separate John from
the Beatles. To just focus on ONE man and his career and family, etc. when his
story is so intertwined with the Beatles, is almost impossible. They were also
very careful not to paint any of the other Beatles in a bad light.
They did a very good job of showing what happened to John and
what he did during that time period. However, since it has very little passion
or soul behind it (apart from what Eccleston does), and it is also removed from
his rise to fame, his music for the most part, and his connection to the
Beatles, it comes over as cold and bloodless. John himself is seen as a
jerk, a spoiled child, and very cruel. He could be those things, but he
was also a brilliant artist and musician, a gifted singer, and an activist, as
well as very funny. They don't do a very good job of balancing the good and bad
They do spend a lot of time on his feeling tortured and
abandoned because of his childhood, and how he works to cope with those
feelings, and his father, but since we don't see the rest of it, it just makes
you want to yell, "Aw, grow up and get over it, John!" I doubt this is
what the filmmakers really wanted.
So, if you know nothing about John Lennon, do not take this as
an accurate portrait. It's not that it's not factual, but too many elements are
missing and it's just uneven. Watch it for Eccleston's brilliant performance.
There are no extras or features on the DVD, either, which is too
bad. I would have loved to heard the cast, writers, and others discuss the film,
to understand what they were trying to do, as well as see some of the
(Doctor Who, Heroes) stars as one of the most enduring and enigmatic figures of
the 20th Century, John Lennon, in this riveting drama.
One quarter of “The Fab Four,” peace activist, visual artist, and author, John
Lennon was a man whose personal life was never short on
drama, intrigue and eventually, conspiracy. Thirty years after his death,
Lennon Naked presents an inside
look at the hugely popular musician as he moved from a Beatle to an icon. It
covers a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1964 to 1971, a time of
worldwide adulation at one extreme but a combination of frustration and despair
at the other. From the death of father-figure and manager Brian Epstein, his
break-up with first wife Cynthia and his fascinating love affair with Yoko Ono,
through to his spiraling drug use and decision to leave England for New York,
this is the story of an artist destroying everything to find himself.
on DVD: November 23rd
Lennon Naked – It’s Over
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