Devil and Daniel Johnston, The


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Genre: Musical & Performing Arts
Director: Jeff Feuerzeig - Director
Theatrical Release: 2006
Rated: PG-13 (MPAA)
Length: 110 mins
Studio: Sony Pictures Home
Format: DVD
Language: English

Although his appeal barely stretches beyond a small band of obsessives in the tight-knit indie-rock community, the turbulent career of singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston has had more highs and lows than most globetrotting rock stars. This film by director Jeff Feuerzeig offers a retrospective look at Daniel's life, forming an affecting picture of a truly talented man. Eschewing the opportunity to bring in a host of celebrities to wax lyrical about Daniel--of which there would be many: Nirvana, Beck, Sonic Youth, SIMPSONS creator Matt Groening, and many others are all devoted followers of the singer--Feuerzeig instead speaks to those who know (or knew) him best. So Daniel's parents, a former girlfriend, a former manager, and others all step forward to fill in the gaps in what becomes a remarkable story. <BR><BR>Feuerzeig's film shows how Daniel's battles with manic depression have blighted his chances of fully enjoying the fame that he desperately craves. Daniel himself does not speak to camera; instead he is heard through the mountain of audio cassettes on which he has obsessively recorded the key elements of his life. It all adds up to riveting viewing, with tales of an ill-fated major label deal in the grunge era, stints in and out of mental institutions, and Daniel's first acid trip at a Butthole Surfers show. What becomes abundantly clear is the love and devotion Daniel inspires in his family, friends, and followers. Feuerzeig is careful not to condescend to his subject, and notes how Daniel has enjoyed a latter-day renaissance as he enters his mid-40s. With new advances in medicine allowing him to tour, the art world snapping up his beautiful drawings, and a level of previously unthinkable stability entering his life, Feuerzeig leaves us on a high, as his lovingly crafted movie about this brightest of tragic stars winds to a satisfying conclusion.;

Language Usage   Closed Captioned
Release Language   English
Color   Color
HiFi Sound   N
Surround Sound   N
Digital Sound   N
Stereo Sound   N
CXEncoding   N
AC3Sound   N
THXSound   N
DTSStereo   N
Unedited Version   N
Collector's Edition   N
Director's Cut   N
Closed Captioned   Y
Letterboxed   N
Rating Reason   for thematic elements, drug content, and language including a sexual reference
Sonic Youth -
Ted Hope - Producer
Gibby Haynes -
Walter Werzowa -
Henry Rosenthal -
Fortunato Procopio - Director of Photography, PLEDGE THIS! (2006)
Jeff Feuerzeig - Director
Daniel Johnston - American singer-songwriter, subject of documentary
Daniel Johnston - American singer-songwriter, subject of documentary
Tyler Hubby - Editor, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON (2006)
3 stars out of 4 -- "[T]he real heroes of this movie are Johnston's family, particularly his aging parents, who for all their heartbreak are palpably full of love and forbearance for their disturbed and yes, talented boy."
Film Comment
"[T]he manner in which extreme mental states can simultaneously stoke and inhibit artistic careers has rarely received a more dramatic reckoning."
Entertainment Weekly
"[F]ascinating and lovingly crafted..." -- Grade: B+
Rolling Stone
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "It's the way Feuerzeig walks with him on the line between creativity and madness that digs this haunting and hypnotic film into your memory."
New York Times
"[A] moving portrait of the artist as his own ghost...[with] often heartbreakingly beautiful songs."
Total Film
3 stars out of 5 -- "Raiding a treasure trove of found footage?director Jeff Feuerzeig guides the viewer through the turbulent life and times of his prolific subject."
Sight and Sound
"Johnston's manic energy and unstable thought processes leave an unmistakable imprint on both film and viewer."
Total Film
4 stars out of 5 -- "Intimate, yet never voyeuristic....[A] powerfully sober biopic."
5 stars out of 5 -- "Both funny and moving, Feuerzeig's artfully assembled biopic gallops briskly along, fuelled by endless tragicomic anecdotes."
Ultimate DVD
3 stars out of 5 -- "[U]ndoubtedly a sensitive and compelling portrait of a fascinating individual."

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