Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I got the opportunity to speak with Daniel Johnston at his families home in Texas about his latest comic book, his day-to-day life, and his experience during and since the filming of the 2005 film, The Devil and Daniel Johnston.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


I have a new #1 and it's about to burst out of me.  The Devil and Daniel Johnston may quite possibly be the best developed documentary in the past decade...why?  First and foremost archive.  This film may have the best list of archive of one persons life of any film that I have ever seen.  That alone makes this film number one, but it doesn't even include the story of this fascinating human's life which when told through the eyes and ears of this film, makes me want to jump right into it and be able to have lived a small portion of it myself.

Making The Devil and Daniel Johnston is assembly one of those moments when a documentary filmmaker would be brewing in glory having discovered a mine of archive gold.  The stacks and stacks of archive that surrounded making this film must have left uncountable options for story development and inevitably have given birth to a documentary that felt like a well staged film.  I imagine the other side of the exceptionally large pile of archive would have been sifting it all out and knowing what to leave in and cut.  But in the end you have yourself a great story of the life of Daniel Johnston and all the footage and audio to help take a look into just what it was like.

Raised in Pennsylvania in a conservative home with conservative values Daniel Johnston struggle to fit in but, sometime around his late-teen years he banged his way out of it all with madness and hit the road.  Gifted as an artist and struggling with reality, the relationships with family grew tense and his outlets revolve around mimicking it all through art and short films.  Obsessed with recording his life on tape he gathered great moments of personal thought, ingenious musical growth, and a massive collection of the family secrets that give life to a home we can all relate to.

Yet the story of Daniel Johnston like his mind went two ways and as it is with Daniel those ways were always strait-up and strait-down.  Breaking out of his roots he played his way to the top of the Austin music scene and made a roar in the local music that rivals any from that region since.  Raising to his self-proclaimed destiny for fame, Daniel stepped onto the stage of the early MTV and rocked the house long enough to grab the audience and the TV's eye.  Leaving a legacy of music on cassette to build from his agent worked tirelessly to get him recognized and at his peak drove Daniel into the middle of a bidding war between record labels that left treads of legend and infamy.   

However with the story of Daniel there was a deal with the Devil and the Devil never forgets his deal.  Crumbling to a halt he crashed his record deal, stopped his music, slashed his art, and brought himself and his father's plane literally to the ground.  Left with the reality of his collapsed mental health Daniel started on a road back to sanity, a road that both saved him and killed whomever he was.

Jumping forward in time to when this film was shot, we find Daniel healthy and singing one of my favorite songs, Casper the Friendly Ghost.  It is here in the film and in this song that Daniel seems at his best and most beautiful.  He is softer, bigger, and older.  He is less of a wire and more of a reflection.  And if you listen to the words of the song it seems he recognizes that he himself has become Casper and Casper was always who he was meant to be.


Since its watching, I have fallen in love with this movie and with Daniel and his music.   I have research more of his work, listened to more of his songs, and taken on an understanding that as the directors share in their commentary, that Daniel quite possibly is one of the greatest song writers and singers of our time, yet unknown.

I hope you will follow up with watching and I would welcome hearing your comments and thoughts.


CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrNT-4hXD3w

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.hihowareyou.com/ 

TWITTER: @danieljohnston  

FAN PAGE: http://www.rejectedunknown.com/

STORE: http://www.rejectedunknown.com/store/

FORUM: http://www.hihowareyou.com/messageboard/

FULL LENGTH MOVIE ON YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHsKByGW7JE


True Love" appears in new Axe hair commercial!  http://youtu.be/NvX71ZbTk-E

Friday, August 10, 2012

BROTHER'S KEEPER by Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky

Brother's Keeper landed in the mail from Netflix per a recommendation of a friend of mine and within the first 20-minutes it was a top 10 on my list, by the end it was top 5.

Call me behind the times...the piece was released in 1992, but still it is as good as the day it was born.  It took me a while to put it together, but after 45-minutes or so I realized that I was watching a mix between the novels, To Kill A Mocking Bird and Grapes of Wrath in a documentary film.  Uncovering a small town, backwoods life in a social rarity of human nature and taking on a court case that flushed out the uniqueness of 4 brothers who lived together in one house since birth.  I found myself struck over and over with a mild sense of awe by this piece and I wasn't sure why.

Set on a farm in upstate New York the brothers, having lived together in a run-down ram-shackled house or a "personal sanctuary" of sorts per the directors commentary. Wake-up one morning to find one of the four of them not breathing in bed and the facial marks that pointed to death by suffocation.  Picking up on the story in a local news paper shortly after and following it from near its origin, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky worked quickly to get the rights to film the proceeding events post the brother's death and follow the events that unfolded all the way to the courtroom.  Joining in over the ensuing 1-hour and 45-minutes, the film unfolds the fascinating lives of these four brothers, the farm they grew up on, and the conflicting elements of the court case that together show just how confused the our legal system, police, and state government can get when mixing within a closed independent small town culture in the rural countrysides of a major state.

Overall the average person may put this piece aside and never stop to see why it's so remarkable.  Looking into this small sub-culture of society challenges one's mind's ability to understand the natural non-conformity of these four brothers and this small town to do as it sees fit with the problem at hand.  For the average trained mind is far easier to dismiss them all as strange and out-of-touch, but if you look closer you will see something rare and unique that exists within us all.  It's a sense of self and a sense of simplicity within a life that doesn't seek approval from a larger system of thought.  It is this independence that defines these men and this towns right to make their own choices on how to deal with life and to be damned the system that thinks 'it knows best' for telling them otherwise.  It is both a beautiful thing and a dangerous thing in an age of terrorism and fear of small independent groups of people.   It is something that is disappearing rapidly from the public eye and it is this small glimpse into a moment that makes this film a top 5 for me.  A glimpse that we may soon not be able to look into again.

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlDSGMAyUrE

FULL LENGTH ON YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvroFeisc9k&feature=related