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General Discussion => Fan Forums => Topic started by: David Cauchi on July 26, 2005, 11:50:30 PM



Title: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: David Cauchi on July 26, 2005, 11:50:30 PM
I've just been to see this at the Wellington Film Festival (that's in New Zealand, folks) and was totally blown away. I went in with exceedingly high expectations, and wasn't disappointed. What really amazed me was the huge amount of super 8, video and audio source material they had. It's worth going to see just for that. There's the MTV appearance, there's lots of home movie stuff, the infamous New York trip, the list just goes on and on.

One thing that I personally find hard to deal with is all the people who seem to think that they need to interpret Dan to get him out to the world. So you have Jeff Tartakov saying that early on he reckoned that he should get other people to cover Dan's material. You get Kathy McCarty saying that, because most people would find the tapes 'unlistenable', she did her covers album. At least they didn't have that dreadful Ron English guy who does the awful paintings based on Dan's drawings. I'm sure these people don't intend to be condescending and exploitative, but I got the real impression they are.

The one big thing missing from the film is an interview with Laurie Allen, but I can well understand why she would have declined. The sheer amount of stuff in the film, though, especially all the amazing original footage etc, more than makes up for it. It's a tragic tale, and one whose final chapter has yet to be written. This guy has been to hell and back. I've been a big fan since '88 or '89 when my friend Brother Love made me a compilation tape. I knew he was a serious artist, but I didn't realise quite how prolific he's been. I knew about the music and the drawings but not the films he'd made. It's quite a hard film to watch in some respects, but I found it really inspiring.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: Henry Long on July 27, 2005, 08:52:31 AM
David-

Thanx for the review! I'm chomping at the bit to see this film, but no word on when it will come to the Philadelphia area.

Your uneasy impression of other's "interpreting" Daniel's work for a more mainstream audience is noted. But I think that happens all over the place, from record producers (look at Nirvana's "Nevermind") to an art gallery "selling" the idea of the artist (reference Julian Schnabel's beautiful film "Basquiat.") It is what it is. But the art (if it's authentic) always rises out of its hype.

Daniel will probably never be mainstream, (unless everybody suddenly got 'cool' overnight!) but I'm certain he will be discussed in the context of visionary art and will continue to move people with his music for years to come.

I hope the film helps promote that, if anything.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: gina164 on July 27, 2005, 10:07:10 AM
"OH, HENRY!"...

You haven't seen the film yet?!

OMG...you will LOVE IT!

Funny, though, how everyone reacts differently to 'the players'...
I felt, and still do, and always will, that Jeff's business savy was something positive in Dan's life - he helped make a dream come true for Dan...

Anyway...I definitely do NOT want to open up a discussion about who was/is good for Dan...that's nothing any of us can judge...we all have our own impressions. I just wanted to note that people view things very differently. It's interesting -

OK...so, HENRY! YOU WILL LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVEEEE the film :-)

Gina


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: David Cauchi on July 28, 2005, 09:21:46 PM
It's funny how people pick out things to focus on. My being dodgy about people feeling the need to interpret and repackage Dan's work was just a passing comment. I wanted to focus on the amazing wealth of source material in the film, but hey.

The record producer analogy is a good one. I don't know if anyone here's familiar with NZ music, but the lo-fi Dunedin-sound thing from the late 70s and early 80s all came about cos Chris Knox's band Toy Love went over to Aussie to make a record, and had a totally bad experience with the record producer there. Knox came back convinced that professional studios were a bad thing and that DIY was the only way to go - hence Flying Nun etc. He's still pretty passionate on the subject. I just find the idea that something has to be glossy and packaged to reach an audience bizarre (and insulting to the audience).

I personally think reaching a mainstream audience is irrelevant. Good work can look after itself. Piero della Francesca's work was neglected for 400 years after his death. It took the advent of Modernism for its inherent value to be recognised ('We hail in Piero the first cubist'). I don't think Dan's work will have to wait that long. Its value is being recognised now, and this film is an important part of this process and an important document in its own right.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I s'pose I should also mention that I don't consider Dan to be an outsider or visionary artist. I went to 'In the realms of the unreal' (about Henry Darger, who definitely was an outsider artist) a couple of days before the film about Dan. Unfortuinately the doco on Darger left a lot to be desired, but it was still quite a telling comparison.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: gina164 on July 28, 2005, 10:37:28 PM
"I personally think reaching a mainstream audience is irrelevant. Good work can look after itself. "


Soooooooo true....


Gina


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: dill on July 30, 2005, 10:46:59 PM
Great review.. can't wait for this to be released on DVD since I know its never coming to Iowa for a showing.  :cry:


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: dbeefy on July 31, 2005, 06:34:54 AM
"I personally think reaching a mainstream audience is irrelevant. Good work can look after itself. "


Soooooooo true....


Gina

Yeah but it's sometimes nice to be able to pay the bills through your work .. not that I'm advocating flat-out commercialism , but  hell, just ask anyone who has or is selling their stuff, whether for big bags of cash or a bit of extra beer money :)


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: David Cauchi on July 31, 2005, 07:10:27 AM
My brother and several good friends are fulltime artists and have to sell work to pay their mortgages and rent. I would very much like to be able to give up my crap job and just concentrate on painting as well (though I've taken a somewhat different path, no doubt due the large pottle of chips on my shoulder). One thing I've noticed about their experiences is that the need to sell influences the direction of your work. If something doesn't sell, no matter what promising direction it might head you in, you simply can't afford to follow it (though of course that depends on the nature of the work and the market). The only other option is to get funding from something like Creative NZ, and you need to be in with the art mafia to do that.

It comes down to what you're doing it for. If it's about fame or fortune, or constructing an identity around being an artist, then maybe mainstream success is important. If it's about the work, then you'll do whatever it takes to do it.

On another note, this is kind of like a conversation around a few beers. It's very tangential, and quite a lot of fun. The best conversations have a diverse range of views, and interesting new directions that come out of the interaction between those views. Hmm, I'm blithering a bit, no doubt cos it's quarter past one in the morning ... I'll stop now.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: favorhouseatlantic on August 02, 2005, 12:32:38 PM
i wanna see this soooo badly!


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: gina164 on August 04, 2005, 08:28:45 AM
Hi, All :-)

Great thread...
Wish I had time to chime in more...
All viewpoints have merit...just depends on what angle you want to discuss.

Gina


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: Stress Records on August 04, 2005, 08:40:09 AM
i wanna see this soooo badly!

I think most people here would go through quite a bit of trouble to see this film and that's what makes it so surprising that the head of Daniel's current record label has passed on at least 4 different opportunities to see it.

 :?


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: Gammon Records on August 05, 2005, 01:27:20 PM
You're a sad little ugly troll of a man.  I want to see the movie but the thought of just seeing that unkissable (yet, very smackable) face of yours makes me ill.  :-o


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: Stress Records on August 05, 2005, 02:29:08 PM
???


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: Stress Records on August 05, 2005, 02:35:54 PM
Don't know what happened to my previous post so I'll try again.

So you skipped seeing the movie FOUR different times because you didn't want to look at me? Why not just step out for popcorn during the scenes you find unwatchable?

At the final SXSW screening I was working the guestlist at the door and I even made sure they were saving two seats for you and a third seat if you brought a guest.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: dbeefy on August 06, 2005, 09:12:30 AM
ah here we go again eh guys ?

I guess all these various issues run pretty deep , but here's hoping that it gets resolved, and doesn't take 20 years or so .. !



Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: David Cauchi on August 08, 2005, 05:45:57 PM
Cheers guys for reminding me why I gave up on message boards and mailing lists - they always get captured by long-running feuds characterised by vindictive personal attacks. Charming.


Title: Re: Devil and Daniel Johnston review (of sorts)
Post by: stareyedsquirrel on August 09, 2005, 12:59:49 PM
Very true - only I've found that usually the attacks come from barely literate 12-year olds, not two fully-grown professionals who have a direct and profound effect on Daniel's business affairs. Which is what makes this just plain sad, not to mention worrying.