‘The Lost Weekend: A Love Story’ Review: May Pang Tells Her Story

The so-called Lost Weekend, when John Lennon, from past due 1973 thru ’74, separated from Yoko Ono and relocated to Los Angeles, the place he changed into a hard-drinking rock-club night time owl whilst wearing on an affair with the 22-year-old May Pang (who have been John and Yoko’s assistant), has lengthy been a part of rock mythology. It’s been lined via the entirety from E! documentaries to Albert Goldman’s “The Lives of John Lennon.” Like many Lennon observers, I’ve at all times felt like I knew the fundamental bones of it.

I knew that John and Yoko, after marrying in 1969 and seeming like inseparable soulmates in artwork and existence, started to have issues as a pair. That Yoko, seeking to save the wedding, made the verdict to arrange John with May Pang, mainly teaching the 2 of them to have a romantic affair. That in L.A., John, for the primary time for the reason that breakup of the Beatles (and perhaps for the reason that Beatles started), let his hair down and started to experience a extra comfortable, fraternizing, every now and then carousing rat-pack lifestyles. That he changed into a fixture on the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Boulevard along side Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, Bernie Taupin, Mickey Dolenz, and others who changed into referred to as the Hollywood Vampires. That after 18 months of partying and soul looking, John returned to Yoko, commenting on the time (in some of the wittiest quips of his existence, which is announcing one thing) that “The separation didn’t work out.” And that his choice to return made all of the episode appear to be Yoko’s model of a Jedi thoughts trick.

The central determine within the new documentary “The Lost Weekend: A Love Story” is May Pang, who has instructed her story again and again (in her memoir, and on communicate displays like “Geraldo” — within the movie, we see a large number of clips of the ones appearances). The film, directed via Eve Brandstein, Richard Kaufman, and Stuart Samuels, is instructed solely from her perspective. It’s a portrait of the May Pang who grew up in Spanish Harlem as a second-generation Chinese-American (“a minority among minorities,” she says), and the way she fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll and fell into repute with one of those karmic future.

In the footage that we noticed on the time of her and John, she at all times had a waifish good looks, and a definite thriller in the back of the ones tinted hexagon glasses. But in “The Lost Weekend,” we see that May Pang used to be a difficult formidable town woman, who spoke with a slight however blunt New York accessory, and that once dropping by the wayside of school she had the chutzpah to speak her method into a role at Apple Records on Broadway. She used to be a schmoozer, and when she started to paintings for John and Yoko, doing each and every makeshift activity to be had — avant-garde movie manufacturing assistant, dress clothier — she had an ebullient smile and an easy-to-be-with vivacity. She used to be a laugh however circumspect (she didn’t drink or do medicine).

The documentary is Pang’s diary-like account of the way the Lost Weekend performed out, week via week, emotion via emotion, and on that ranking it gives an interesting, revealing, and once in a while transferring portrait of John Lennon unmoored, looking for himself in a global that had stuck as much as him. The film may be a portrait of Pang’s romantic hobby, which as she portrays it used to be each blameless and deeply critical. To say that she used to be in over her head could be a real understatement. She used to be 10 years more youthful than Lennon (and 17 years more youthful than Yoko), who used to be her boss and a Beatle. Once they have been in combination, Yoko would telephone her steadily, short of to grasp what used to be going down. It used to be all a lark; Pang used to be simply going with the glide. But she relates, with a dailiness that’s convincing, how she and John changed into convivial and erotic partners, their affair rooted in a real affection and in Lennon’s discovery that he didn’t must reside in some way that used to be at all times so chained to his legend. (In the early ’70s, he’d turn into an actual political scold; after the drubbing won via 1972’s “Some Time in New York City,” that used to be a part of what he used to be letting pass of.)

There’s wonderful archival subject material all the way through, and it will give you an surprisingly wealthy sense of what Lennon used to be like clear of the limelight. The darkish aspect could be very a lot there. We listen Pang’s tales about how Lennon, in a drunken are compatible of confronting his demons, smashed up their position in L.A., and the way he would hit her once in a while. And there are startling images that record the recording of “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the album of early rock chestnuts that Lennon made with Phil Spector, who used to be coming into his complete mad-dog word. But in line with Pang, the fabled stories of Lennon’s misbehavior, as when he and Harry Nilsson, after too many Brandy Alexanders, were given kicked out of the Troubadour nightclub for heckling the Smothers Brothers, have been extra the exception than the rule of thumb.

The narrative that shapes “The Lost Weekend” is May Pang’s gently development insistence that she and Lennon have been really in love. And we need to take that on religion, because it’s all very subjective and now not essentially borne out via what took place. Did Yoko truly set the entire thing up? According to May Pang, she completely did, strolling into Pang’s administrative center on the fortress-like Dakota, the place John and Yoko had moved to really feel extra safe (Lennon, at that time, used to be being severely careworn via the FBI, since President Nixon sought after him deported), and mainly giving her an govt order: You’re going to have a dating with John. Yoko had seen John’s infidelity, so she figured that she would let him stray with a lady she may regulate. It used to be, via any usual, a choice of severely kinky manipulation.

Yet this used to be the bed-hopping, do-what-you-feel ’70s, so all of it gave the impression rather less bizarre on the time. It wasn’t Yoko’s concept that the 2 of them transfer to L.A.; that used to be John’s impulsive choice. The documentary chronicles how after a few yr there, they returned, simply as unexpectedly, to New York, transferring right into a small rental on E. 52nd St., the place they lived throughout the first months of 1975. We see Pang’s {photograph} of Bob Gruen snapping his well-known {photograph} of Lennon in a New York City T-shirt. One night time, she and John noticed a UFO from the rooftop (Lennon’s description and caricature of it are haunting), and in line with Pang they have been speaking about purchasing a area in Montauk.

But Yoko had already re-entered the image, appearing up behind the curtain to peer John on the premiere of an Off Broadway display in response to “Sgt. Pepper.” There are moments within the movie when Yoko, to mention the least, does now not come off smartly — particularly in Pang’s description of the way Yoko tried to bring to an end Lennon’s dating together with his son, Julian. Julian is interviewed all the way through the movie, and he (like his mom, Cynthia) maintained a detailed bond with Pang. That Pang helped to convey John and Julian again in combination, in spite of Yoko’s machinations, turns out extra convincing than now not.

What doesn’t appear convincing, a minimum of because the movie items it, is the overall twist on this unusual rock ‘n’ roll cleaning soap opera. After John, apparently out of nowhere, is going again to Yoko, and Pang confronts him about it, he says, fairly merely: She’s letting me come again. Letting him? That doesn’t sq. with what the movie has implied — that Lennon had drifted clear of Yoko. His remark means that their separation used to be at all times contingent on an figuring out between them. But that’s one thing we’d must wager at, for the reason that lifetime of John Lennon stays, for all of the tactics it’s been chronicled, now not fairly knowable. “The Lost Weekend” is a compelling film and a precious puzzle piece, but it surely’s simplest pretending to be the entire puzzle.

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