Whenever I'm in southwest Virginia on vacation from the smog and broken dreams of Los Angeles visiting family for the holidays and explaining to cousins that "no I'm not the girl in the relationship, that's not how it works", Netflix is the only thing that keeps me sane. Unfortunately, my mother and I speak very different Netflix languages: I speak Always Sunny re runs and foreign films, she speaks "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry" and Tyler Perry. The only intersections of our Suggested For You are seemingly "Scandal" and "Critically Ignored/ Rando Documentary Films". So when tasked with writing about "John Lennon: All You Need Is Love" I decided to bring my mom along.
Mom: I can't understand these accents.
Me: Did you listen to The Beatles growing up?
Mom: Why would I? Even they say they got all their inspiration from black music.
Me: You know, you not listening to the Beatles is why I had to grow up to be the contrarian in college who "just didn't get the big deal with The Beatles."
Mom: You're welcome.
Me: No one wants to be that guy unless you're just that guy and I'm not. Oh my god, this documentary is not very good.
Mom: It isn't. Pass me that wine over there. It feels like when your granny is going through one of her old picture albums with you and barely explains the picture before moving on.
This documentary was obviously written with the expectation that everyone knows about the inner workings of the Beatles camp. Since I don't, I'm lost. The timeline is seemingly all there but there's no narrative to guide me along.
Mom: When was this thing made? It looks old.
Me: 2010, but I think it's all archival footage.. Oh my god, here's another guy just talking whose name they haven't told us!
Consistently the filmmakers don't do their do diligence to connect us to the world of John Lennon. In a documentary that can't afford the licensing on the music no one made time to properly introduce the many talking heads.
Mom: I feel sorry for that Yoko Nono.
Me: Yoko Ono, mama.
Mom: What did I say?
Me: Yoko No no...Why do you feel sorry for her?
Mom: You can tell she really love that man and he loved her but everyone keeps acting like she ruined him. Can't no one woman ruin a man. She ain't Bathsheba.
Me: That's super feminist. That's cool Mama.
This is a patchwork documentary, pieced together liked the broken teacup Yoko and John called a sculpture. Yet, unlike that sculpture the broken qualities of this film don't feel intentional. Talking heads float in and out of frame rambling anecdotes and postulations, and the audience is left reeling from the banality of it all.
Mom: Wait are they not going to tell us who killed him?
Me: You're supposed to already know. It's He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Mom: *A sigh* Hand me that remote. What episode of Scandal did we leave off on?