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Netflix DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (2020) (1 Viewer)


Second Unit
Sep 2, 2019
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DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (2020) - Acclaimed Documentary filmmaker Kristen Johnson was inspired to follow her father, Dick, as he began to show more and more signs of mental and physical deterioration. The result is, this, a somewhat light-hearted attempt to de-mystify the aging process. Johnson's method involves a lot of staged sequences including bizarre “accidents” that could kill him.

By all accounts, Dick Johnson seems like an amiable chap. A psychiatrist. Family man. About half the Doc follows how Alzheimer's increasingly takes it toll on him, and some of the footage is honestly heart-breaking. But, it's the staged material which has garnered the most attention. It is certainly laudable for a filmmaker to think outside the box as to how to shape her material. Still, as an established documentarian (and cameraperson), it's still seems incongruent that so much of the movie is given over to flights of fantasy. A little of it goes a long way here.

As with her previous Doc CAMERAPERSON, Kristen Johnson is too self-conscious behind the camera. She should trust not only her own instincts and let the images do the taking, but, also those of her audience. One moment, we are witnessing Dick slowly losing his memories, and then the next he is being used as a human prop gussied up like a circus puppet as a cascade of confetti floats around him in slow motion. It's all too slick. Even more damning, it goes against the stated theme of accepting illness and, inevitably, death. Of course, Kristen doesn't want to see her father leave her, but, all of the faked footage and audience deception does make it feel as though the Doc was more about her than her beloved dad. Dick Johnson seems to accept his fate better than this movie does.

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