Films by Yoko Ono, program five | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Films by Yoko Ono, program five 

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So awful it's worth recommending as a case study in bad filmmaking, the 73-minute Imagine (1971), codirected by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, is at once narcissistically self-indulgent and fatuously obnoxious. Here they carry to an extreme the mistake of the very worst student filmmakers--assuming that their subject (their love for each other) will interest others even though they haven't done the hard work of making it convincing through film technique. Swooping helicopter shots that show the couple boating are apparently meant to be lyrically transcendent, but come off as pompous and empty-headed. They write their names in the sand as if they're the first couple to discover that possibility. Lennon sings about "no possessions" in a country mansion, oblivious to the irony. The two visit with celebrity friends such as Dick Cavett and Jack Palance--who cares? This smug and self-centered love note shows little regard for the viewer, recalling the infatuated couple who mostly smooch while "visiting" others. If you thought John and Yoko's relationship was inappropriately vilified in the press, this film may change your mind. Curiously, it's also a kind of ur-music video, with the imagery seeming to illustrate the songs on the sound track; the same is true of Ono's Walking on Thin Ice (1981, 6 min.)--made after Lennon's murder and including a brief snippet of the couple together nude--which tries for an elegiac tone without much success. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, Friday, November 30, 8:00, 773-293-1447.

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