‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’ Review: A Touching Elegy to a Man Who’s Still Alive

‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’ Review: A Touching Elegy to a Man Who’s Still Alive
The title of “Dick Johnson Is Dead” doesn’t lie, but it’s not exactly truthful, either. Dick Johnson dies many times in his daughter Kirsten’s poignant and personal documentary, starting with the opening credits. And yet he’s very much alive the whole time, playacting in an elaborate form of cinematic therapy with his filmmaker offspring as she wrestles with the anxiety of losing him.

That concept could easily devolve into a navel-gazing exercise, but Kirsten Johnson — the veteran nonfiction cinematographer who directed 2016’s wondrous collage film “Cameraperson” — enacts . Oscillating from intimate father-daughter exchanges to surreal meta-fictional tangents, the movie lives within its riveting paradox, reflecting the queasy uncertainty surrounding its subject’s fate.

It helps that Dick makes quite the centerpiece. “I’ve always wanted to be in the movies!” he cries in the opening moments, toying around with Kirsten’s two young children, before tumbling over
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