The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
A documentary film about a manic depressive artist. Sounds cliché, but it is anything but. Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig and produced and primarily financed by Henry Rosenthal, the film won the 2005 Sundance director’s award.
Daniel Johnston has been compared to the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Kauffman, and even Napolean Dynamite, for the way in which he undoes preconceived conceptions about the “should be’s” of music and art. Among those that admire and are inspired by his work have been Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Beck, Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, The Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, Tom Waits, and David Bowie. Two of his songs appear on the soundtrack to Kids (1995), and his artwork has been featured internationally, including in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
Many critics question whether Johnston’s fame is mostly hype. Feuerzeig’s documentary speaks to the raw genuineness and unique genius of Johnston’s work. In one interview, Feuerzeig comments, “It keeps touching people and reaching people all on its own, and we don't get that any more in our pasteurized, homogenized corporate society. We don't get anything like that. The medium is never the message, the message stands alone.”
Daniel Johnston is the explosive lo-fi voice for a manic generation, a generation of necessarily decaying structures, a generation bombarded on every front with media of every sort, a generation on information override.
- Story NA
- Acting NA
- Visuals A-
- Originality/Innovation B+
- Enjoyability B+
- Overall B+
- DVD Extras A-