The Devil and Daniel Johnston (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Daniel Johnston is an American singer-songwriter with a devoted following, but the childlike candour and psychedelic imagery which people adore in his music are connected to the mental illness which led him to crash his father's plane while they were both on board. They survived, but it was a close thing. And when a major record company sought him out in 1992, after Kurt Cobain was photographed wearing one of his T-shirts, Johnston was in a mental hospital.

It's an incredible documentary, not just because of Johnston's manic behaviour or his famous fans - The Simpsons' creator, Matt Groening, is one of them - but because of the wealth of material which the director had to play with. Johnston either filmed or taped almost everything he did, so we witness every triumph and disaster. If it can seem uncomfortably intimate, it's no more intimate than his songs.

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