Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kirsten Johnson
Written by: Doris Baizley, Lisa Freedman
Directed by: Kirsten Johnson
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 102
Date: 09/09/2016

Cameraperson (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Lenser Be

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This wonderful documentary is essentially a collection of clips from the career of Kirsten Johnson, a cinematographer on many noted documentaries of the past couple of decades. The idea is that the movie might form some kind of a picture of Johnson's personality, and it does just that; she comes across as curious, compassionate, and sometimes a little adorably blindsided. (I fell in love with the movie during a roadside shot wherein she unexpectedly captures a bolt of lightning, gasps, and then, a few moments later, sneezes and jolts her shot.) Some of the documentaries are easy to identify, mainly when folks like Michael Moore or Jacques Derrida turn up, but otherwise, the clips are unidentified. I was regularly asking myself about the role of director; Johnson is the "director" of this film, even though the footage was shot under the guidance of many other directors (she works frequently for the Oscar-nominated Kirby Dick). At the same time, some of the clips show Johnson interviewing her own family members. On the whole, the movie gives viewers a chance to sit back and ponder questions and thoughts about the nature of being human and our relationship with the world.

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