Saturday, June 09, 2007

"The Devil And Daniel Johnston"

This is a documentary you can catch on one of those On Demand channels. Daniel Johnston is a singer/songerwriter who built up a big cult following in the mid-80's and then lost his mind. Today he's obese and living with his elderly parents. He's functional but still a bit off. The movie follows him all through his sad tortured life. It's quite a journey.

Kurt Cobain famously called Johnston the "greatest songwriter ever," but that's all subjective, and while I found some of his songs heartfelt and moving, some were definitely geared more for cult status. But cult figure or not, a lyric like, "following my broken dreams" is still a damn good lyric.

It wasn't his music that made the film so appealing to me: It was The Girl. The One Who Got Away. Daniel met Laurie his first and only year of art school. Nothing happened between them (he was a bit manic even at 20). And I think she had a boyfriend. But he's never gotten over her. We only see her like Daniel does: in a home movie he took way back when. She's certainly cute but what Daniel saw in her only Daniel knows. Even today she inspires his songs; that unrequited love still haunting and driving him decades later.
I'm recommending it because I saw it over two weeks ago and haven't been able to get it out of my head.


Blogger Gina said...

You write a darn good review, even when it's a short one.

Random Tangent Alert: Speaking of documentaries, have you read about that new one, about the guy who blinded the woman with acid and then she ended up marrying him? "Crazy Love," I think it's called. CREEPY.

8:52 AM  

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