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This Weekend's Must-Sees: "Daniel Johnston" and "Toro Negro"

by Anthony Kaufman
March 31, 2006 6:23 AM
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If you missed last week's screening of You're Gonna Miss Me, the Roky Erickson doc about the troubled schizophrenic musician, here comes The Devil and Daniel Johnston this week, Jeff Feuerzeig's sad, stunning and shocking examination of the life of folk-rocker Johnston. I admit I knew nothing of his music going into the film, but it doesn't matter. The story of a young man devoured by his own eccentric talents and fucked-up brain, the film is enthralling and disturbing at the same time.

The same might be said of Pedro González-Rubio and Carlos Armella's Toro Negro, a portrait of a very different artist -- a young Mexican bullfighter nicknamed "The Suicide" -- whose run-ins with bulls in some makeshift ring in some God forsaken Mexican town are as brutal as those with his girlfriend. Rather than "another placid, Salvation Army doc well-meaningly directing us toward a middle-class respect for poor third-worlders," writes Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson, "you end up on the scary, decaying lip of civilization." Indeed, Toro Negro shows a kind of alcohol-fueled underworld of poverty and self-destruction.

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