Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The Brisbane International Film Festival is underway - click here for our reviews from their great line-up!x
review, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, The, Amazing, Johnathan, Documentary, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, The Amazing Johnathan, Benjamin Berman, Carrot Top, Benjamin Berman, Documentary

THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY

★★

WHOSE DOCUMENTARY IS IT ANYWAY?

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jess Fenton
4th June 2019

Gone are the days when documentary filmmakers were never seen and rarely heard, save for the occasional off-camera or subtitled question. Thanks to the likes 9; Louis Theroux and David Farrier in recent years, aspiring documentary filmmakers have learned that they too can become the star - an entertaining yet dangerous notion. I, like most Australians who were alive in the 90s, became enamoured and amused by shock magician/comedian The Amazing Johnathan’s crazy, frenetic, infectious energy thanks to his frequent appearances on ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’. As it turns out, the loss of ‘Hey Hey’ from our TV screens and growing older wasn’t the reason for The Amazing Johnathan’s disappearance from our minds; it was a death sentence. In 2014 in front of a live audience, Johnathan announced that he had been given just one year left to live. That’s when the vultures descended. But fast forward four years, and The Amazing Johnathan is still very much alive.

Documentary filmmaker Benjamin Berman approached Johnathan with the idea to document his life as he grapples with his medical condition and embarks on a small comeback tour. Tired of waiting to die, Johnathan decides he’d rather die on stage than at home doing nothing. So dates are booked and preparations are made with Benjamin in tow. We’re treated to an inside look at Johnathan’s extravagance and surprising meth addiction - something his wife isn’t too fond of. And yet, he lives on. After a while it’s revealed that Benjamin isn’t the only documentary crew on board - in fact, over time three more crews are revealed. That’s when the story flips to find out what the hell is going on, and who is and isn’t telling the truth.

I’ve never known a documentary filmmaker try so desperately to become the story. What starts as a sad but fascinating final journey of a much-loved entertainer soon becomes the Benjamin Berman story. When the first of the additional documentary crews enters the frame, the film turns into a disgusting act of passive-aggressiveness as Berman tries to prove that he’s the bigger man and won’t let them intimidate him or push him out. He fails. Then Ben turns the cameras on himself and his family as he explores the idea that perhaps all of this was a therapeutic exercise to confront death after the loss of his mother as a child. Yeah, that idea doesn’t really pan out either. Then more documentaries are announced, and once again Ben plays the “but I was here first” card - only it turns out that that’s not true either. And on and on it goes, trying to make something stick, until finally Ben completely shits the bed in the most offensive and convoluted manners. Ben’s ethics are questioned throughout the entire film, so why should now be any different? And for absolutely no reason whatsoever there’s a bit about Ben doing meth with Johnathan - sure, why not? It was literally the only thing that wasn’t in the film up until then.

It’s Munchhausen by documentary!

For all aspiring documentary filmmakers watch this, make it your guide in what not to do. Everything Berman does - and I mean everything - plays as insincere and an effort to gain pity, sympathy and attention. It’s Munchhausen by documentary!

Here’s the thing - ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary’ is fascinating in the same way that a car crash scene is fascinating. You drive past and go “Holy shit!” but you never actually find out what happened. This film is a horrible legacy of a dying man, and a great disappointment for this fan who was hoping to watch one of her favourite childhood acts one last time. But if you’re looking for a film that subverts all expectations, including what you think the damn movie you’re about to see is about, this is for you.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 31m
CAST: The Amazing Johnathan
Benjamin Berman
Carrot Top
DIRECTOR: Benjamin Berman
PRODUCER: Benjamin Berman
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Slam - A gripping urban mystery
TRENDINGSLAMA gripping urban mystery
Ride Like a Girl - Melbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
TRENDINGRIDE LIKE A GIRLMelbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
Zombieland: Double Tap - The gang's back for a brainless zombie comedy sequel
TRENDINGZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAPThe gang's back for a brainless zombie comedy sequel
Locusts - A low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Disney still have some magic left in them
TRENDINGMALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVILDisney still have some magic left in them
NT Live: Fleabag - The birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
And Then We Danced - A passionate and remarkable classic in the making
TRENDINGAND THEN WE DANCEDA passionate and remarkable classic in the making
Children of the Sea - Sunk by a soggy script
TRENDINGCHILDREN OF THE SEASunk by a soggy script
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
Strange but True - All-star cast saves thriller from being a total misfire
TRENDINGSTRANGE BUT TRUEAll-star cast saves thriller from being a total misfire
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw - Very furious, not so fast
TRENDINGFAST & FURIOUS: HOBBS & SHAWVery furious, not so fast
Five Feet Apart - Breathing borrowed air and clichés
TRENDINGFIVE FEET APARTBreathing borrowed air and clichés
Happy Ending - An extra-wrinkly sex comedy
TRENDINGHAPPY ENDINGAn extra-wrinkly sex comedy
The Land Before Time - 30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
TRENDINGTHE LAND BEFORE TIME30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
Double Lover - Softcore pornography for cinephiles
TRENDINGDOUBLE LOVERSoftcore pornography for cinephiles
Ellipsis - Fails to come full circle
TRENDINGELLIPSISFails to come full circle
In My Blood It Runs - An eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
TRENDINGIN MY BLOOD IT RUNSAn eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
One Last Deal - A touching tale of final chances
TRENDINGONE LAST DEALA touching tale of final chances
Midsommar - Ari Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
TRENDINGMIDSOMMARAri Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
Slam - A gripping urban mystery
TRENDINGSLAMA gripping urban mystery
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us