(2005) dir. Jeff Feuerzeig
Madness and genius. Daniel Johnston seems to exemplify this duality. Though genius may be a bit of a strong term for him (he is clearly multi-talented and has often bursted with creativity), he certainly exemplifies the madness part.
This is a well-constructed documentary that utilizes home footage, lots of voice cassette recordings, as well as present day interviews with people in and around the life of Daniel Johnston, a fringe-y folksy musician who never really flirted with mainstream success but remained a cult figure to lots of better-known musicians. From his childhood creativity to his drug experimentation, Johnston’s life and mentality quickly spiral out of control. He is diagnosed as bi-polar but often seems totally delusional and schizophrenic.
It’s interesting from a lot of angles: his family’s approach to caring for him, his experience on medication, his art, his manias, his highly religious upbringing and nature. It’s a strange, compelling exploration.