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Film, Music

The devil's in the details

Posted by Sara / July 11, 2006

daniel_johnston.jpg By now you've heard all about The Devil and Daniel Johnston: part music documentary, part harrowing exploration of manic depression, covering everything from carnies in Austin to Casper the Friendly Ghost to Sonic Youth.

What most reviews aren't saying is that this film is absolutely hilarious. Why shy away from that? This isn't like laughing at burn victims or something. What my experiences with a certain hillbilly have taught me--and what Johnston knows and plays with mercilessly--is that mental illness IS funny. Sure, it's also heartbreaking and confusing. But you can either laugh or go crazy, you know?

Director Jeff Feuerzeig's tight portrait of a tortured artist will draw deserved comparisons to films like Crumb and Mayor of the Sunset Strip. The ticket is worth it for Johnston's music alone, whether it's the first time you've ever heard his emotionally raw and deceptively simple songs, or whether it's your chance as a fan to see some rare footage of live performances.

Frank interviews with Johnston's inner cirlce are supplemented by photos, video and tape recordings from his family, who seem to have relentlessly documented every moment of their lives, from the infamous plane crash to The Most Awkward Christmas Ever.

See it at Cinema du Parc... while you still can.

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