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    « First Images: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"|主要|1965: The Golden Globes' Alternate Choices »
    Thursday
    Oct 01 2020

    Doc Corner: 'Dick Johnson is Dead'

    ByGlenn Dunks

    One of the heartiest laughs I have had in months comes towards the end ofDick Johnson is Deadduring Dick’s funeral as his best friend pulls out a bugle to play a tune and bid his buddy farewell. Why is it funny? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out. But it’s a moment that epitomises what the entire film, directed by Johnson’s daughter, Kirsten Johnson, does so well. It confronts our own morbid idea of life and death and laughs in the face of the idea that we have any sort of real control over our mortality.

    对于有关死亡和悲伤电影,Dick Johnson is Deadis also probably one of the funniest movies of the year.

    这是一个非常不同的电影约翰逊初中以前的电影,惊人的Cameraperson, although they do share an equal sense of curiosity built out of bits and pieces of the world around us. In that earlier film, Kirsten Johnson used fragments, off-cuts and deleted scenes from her work as a documentary cinematographer to explore the very role of the documentarian and how that can bleed into a filmmaker’s personal life. Infused with footage from her mother’s dying days suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, it truly felt as if she had created a new kind of cinema. Or at least an evolved form of it.

    In her second feature as director, she is attempting something almost just as radical, although yet again uses imagery of her mother as an anchor point to discuss the pain of loss and losing. This time it is also there to accentuate the similar path she worries is happening to her father, Richard. His memory is slipping and is often confused. He is being moved from Seattle to live with Kirsten in her New York City apartment (next door to father of her children, director Ira Sachs) and cries at the realization he will never drive a car again. He seems resigned to the idea of death in some way, able to joke about it any time he has a slice of chocolate cake. And as if to confront that head on, to prepare herself for the inevitable, Kirsten chooses to not only make a film about him and capture his essence, but make a film in which she kills him over and over again.

    She achieves this through playful cinematic trickery. Although as she did inCameraperson, she peels the camera back and allows us to observe that very trickery through stuntmen and fake blood. In one very humorous moment she asks him if he could look more mangled and, well, as if he really has fallen down the stairs. It’s murky terrain for Johnson to wade as a filmmaker, potentially exploitative and almost certainly in bad taste to a degree. But amid these scenes of violent fantasia, the pair share memories and experiences that ultimately bring them closer.

    Kirsten uses dream-like sequences filmed in glossy colour to create her father’s idea of heaven where a young Fred and Ginger dance behind masks made of photographs of her parents when they were younger. She uses cinema to not just kill Richard a lot, but also to redraft history and cure Richard of the emotionally scarring body disability that has followed him since birth. Confetti rains down around a chocolate fountain. It’s exactly the sort of strangely endearing thing one should probably have expected, and yet it is a sweet and, I suppose, beguiling surprise.

    Are Dick and Kirsten afraid of his death? It’s impossible not to be. But throughDick Johnson is Dead, there’s some sort of catharsis. For us, too. Certainly, for many who may be seeing their own parents get frail and weak, this surprisingly charming documentary may illuminate on how precious it can be to be honest about the realities of life and of death.

    对于一些观众,这可能显得极为病态,或许正是。但是,电影结束,由号角爆炸和悼词已经讲的时候,它已经成为庆祝一样,因为它是深刻的。基尔斯滕·约翰逊再次发现了非凡的普通。

    发布:Streaming globally on Netflix from Friday the 2nd of October.

    Oscar chances:通常我会说这是遥远从奥斯卡的口味平常,但约翰逊Camerapersonsomehow just as improbably made the Oscar shortlist back in 2016. And I don't think it's entirely unfair to assume many in the branch will not only have worked with her but respect what she is doing with the medium. On the other hand, Netflix will likely have a lot of options to promote.

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    Reader Comments (3)

    我讨厌这部电影。回忆的经历being trapped in someone's living room to politely endure their home videos. If this wins the Oscar over the truly magnificent Crip Camp, it will be quite disillusioning

    2020年10月1日|Unregistered CommenterJames

    My wife works in the end-of-life space and I'm now going to make sure that this film is on our list to watch when it comes to Netflix tomorrow. Thanks!

    2020年10月1日|Unregistered CommenterAbe

    James, which is fair enough! Like I say, it straddles a line that many will likely think it crosses over. I don't think you have to worry about Netflix pushing this over CRIP CAMP though. I still think that's probably the category's frontrunner.

    2020年10月1日|Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks