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Roky Erickson vs Daniel Johnston vs Townes Van Zandt

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik March 21, 2006 at 3:00AM

Roky Erickson vs Daniel Johnston vs Townes Van Zandt
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Notwithstanding the recently concluded SXSW film and music festival, these are the days of burnt-out Austin rock musicians with briefly thrilling, eventually sorry, sad lives cut down by drugs and mental illness. Is it just coincidence that three compelling documentaries about said fallen artists are floating around the ether right now? Tonight, the IFC Center's Stranger than Fiction series showcases Keven McAlester's "You're Gonna Miss Me," an affecting portrait of psychedelic screaming rocker Roky Erickson (of the 13th Floor Elevators) who was locked up in a mental institution after smoking pot, subjected to shock therapy and later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Next week, Jeff Feuerzeig's equally disturbing portrait of music and insanity "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" hits theaters from Sony Pictures Classics. And last week, Margaret Brown's impressionistic "Townes Van Zandt: Be Here to Love Me" was made available on DVD -- and is still playing in venues across the country.

Beautifully photographed by Austin legend Lee Daniel, "You're Gonna Miss Me" is the only one of the films that doesn't have a distributor. With striking similarities to the "Daniel Johnston" doc (both men, now overweight, straggly and child-like, even resemble each other), "Miss Me" may have suffered from a marketplace glutted from Austin music docs. I wonder. The film has the added plot of a dysfunctional family fighting for control of Roky's care and a poignant conclusion with Roky's rendition of the song, "Goodbye, Sweet Dreams" -- it's a fitting refrain for all three men..

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