Sundance Film Review: ‘Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary’

  • Variety
Sundance Film Review: ‘Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary’
Last spring, “Always Amazing” — a scrappy portrait of gonzo stand-up/magician/performance artist John Edward Szeles, aka the Amazing Johnathan — premiered at Vancouver’s Just for Laughs Festival. This is not a review of that movie, although Ben Berman’s “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” (as this competing project was strategically dubbed at the Sundance Film Festival) wrestles with the fact that its director wasn’t the only opportunist to express an interest in capturing the final days of a showman who was given one year to live more than four years ago.

The question — one of many raised in a film that ultimately becomes more concerned with Berman’s journey than it ever seems to have been about its original subject — is whether the notorious prankster was being honest when he shared his diagnosis in the first place. Was it all one big publicity stunt? Could it be that Johnathan
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