Friday Films: Harold and Maude & The Devil and Daniel Johnston

This week’s Friday Films come from Robert Knight – a creepy, 70s Hollywood movie and the tale of a cult genius’ rise and fall from fame

Harold and Maude

Absurdity reigns throughout, as we journey with Harold and Maude: the most unlikely romantic pairing in cinema history. One repressed teenager obsessed with the act of dying and one 79-year-old holocaust survivor obsessed with living; together they discover how to embrace life and death with an oddly humorous verve.

What else do you do after meeting an elderly lady at a funeral where neither of you know the deceased? You marry her. Haunting and uplifting in equal measures, Harold and Maude, backed by a Cat Steven’s soundtrack, would be defined as an offbeat indie film in this day but it remains one of the sweetest Hollywood classics ever made.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

He played on MTV, Kurt Cobain wore his t-shirts and Sonic Youth invited him into the studio. The boy had talent and also, unfortunately, issues. Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig chronicles Daniel Johnston’s battle with schizophrenia and bipolar during his formative musical years, and the bittersweet story of a cult genius’ rise to prominence halted by manic episodes and violent delusions.

At one point during a light aircraft flight Johnston, thinking he is Caspar the Ghost, removes the keys from the plane and throws them out of the window; luckily he and his father survived after a crash-landing. Extensive archive footage allows for a riveting insight into his downfall but ultimately his ability to claw back his mind, art and fans is the highlight.

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