Thursday, October 15, 2009


I'm on a film watching bender right now.

I've got a Netflix queue stacked to the brim and a bag full of films that I've just started to dig in to.

What am I watching right now? Here, let me tell you.

1. Clue

I'm halfway through this film and I'm struggling. It's a sort of badly shot, cheeky take on a, sigh, board game. Tim Curry is in it, Christopher Lloyd is in it (whatever happened to him?), and a host of other slightly famous people of the 1980s, but it just doesn't click. It's too stupidly campy. But as I am unable to not finish watching a movie, I will plow through this flick and then lambaste it with aplomb.

2. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (102)

One of my favorite Criterion films of all time (meaning one of the ten or twenty that I'd seen prior to starting my quest). Weird and French and surreal and full of attractive Franchies and boggling ideas. Luis Bunuel you are my French Surrealist hero.

3. The Short Films of Grant Munroe

Canadians are strange and odd characters. Garbed in denim and chock full of accent. Strangely enough, I've never really thought about what was going in Canadian film (hell Canadian anything) in the 1940s - 1970s, and damn it, I'm sad I haven't. Grant Munroe was a short animator who made a ton of films for the National Board of Canada. Their short and animated and usually have some sort of subversive message, and they're pretty amazing. His Christmas bit is one of the sweetest least aggravating bits of holiday sentiment I've ever seen.

4. Vernon, Florida

Errol Morris, this is the last film of yours I've seen. I'm almost sad to choke it down with unrestrained glee. But I'll be okay.

5. Road House

The Days of Swayze will grace this website soon. Your mind it will be blown.

Seriously I have FIVE movies in my greasy hands right now, plus Netflix Instant, plus online television shows, plus the lingering need for a, sigh, social life.


The Movie:
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The Director: Jeff Feuerzeig (Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King)

Something Interestin': Daniel Johnston's, er, mental issues, were a lot greater than a lot thought. Crashin' planes, screamin' about Jesus - this guy is as nuts as he was talented.

Quick Notes:

1. Who is this director?

This is really one of the best documentaries on music, or anything, that I've ever seen. It's a delicious blend of animation, music, reenactments, film, and interviews that, as far as I can tell, accurately portrays the life and times of the musical genius that is Daniel Johnston. And my question is: who the fuck is the man behind the camera? Seriously, this is some real gifted filmmaking, and all I can find that he's worked on is another documentary about the band Half Japanese. It's shocking, but Jeff Feezelbub, or whatever, is a name I'll be looking out for.

2. Daniel Johnston's still got it.

You see Daniel Johnston at the end of the film, living in a tiny town with his quickly aging parents, playing in a punk rock band with a bunch of semi-trashy locals. I at least worried, immensely that maybe this large, slow-speaking version of the Daniel Johnston I'd come to know and love might not be able to eek out those heart felt bits of emotionally lyricism he was so well known for. Don't you worry folk, I heard a live recording of his from SXSW last year and nearly cried. Just as beautiful, just as heartfelt. I thank Daniel Johnston's army of Devil-hating ducks for keeping him safe.

3. A vast amount of source material.

As amazing as the direction of this film is, it couldn't have been possible if the decidedly nutty Daniel Johnston hadn't recorded literally his entire life. There's pictures and cuts of film and audio recordings that seriously expose not only every part of every bit of his life, but the deep set emotions he was feeling at the time. It's a little eerie, as if Daniel Johnston was setting the groundwork for an amazing film about his life.

Final Thoughts: I'd never heard Daniel Johnston before this film. You don't need too. He himself, from birth to present, is a fascinating subject, and this film an amazing portrayal of the talent and madness that defines him.

Friday: A Serious Man

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