Danielson: A Family Movie (2006)
Filmmaker J.L. Aronson offers an intimate portrait of a band in which eccentric innovation and unwavering faith forms an unlikely recipe for indie-rock stardom. The year was 1995, and aspiring musician Daniel Smith needed a project for his senior thesis project at Rutgers University. Upon handing in an album recorded by the Danielson Famile entitled A Prayer for Every Hour, the ambitious student was promptly given an A for his remarkable creative efforts. The youngest sibling in the Smith family was 11 years old, and a new era in family history had been set into motion. Born and bred in the farmlands of New Jersey, Smith and his siblings formed a band that soon took to performing in vintage white nurses' outfits to symbolize the healing power of the "Good Word." Though unfavorably received by the Christian community, the Danielson Famile found an unlikely ally in the form of the independent music community. With an outsider edge that appealed to music critics who were fast beginning to grow tired of the stagnant state of modern music, Smith and his band received widespread recognition thanks to articles in such prolific publications as Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. With little money coming in and his other siblings longing to continue their education and seek out their own paths in life, Danielson Famile frontman Smith does his best to establish himself as a solo act while mentoring a then-unknown singer/songwriter with the curious name of Sufjan Stevens. … More
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Critic Reviews for Danielson: A Family Movie
... it's hard to imagine anyone not in the actual family (or at least the presold family of fans) being interested enough to stick it out for the entire hour and 45 minutes.
Shot on digital and layered with animated segments, performance footage and clips from Smith family home movies, Family Movie unfolds with a gentle, justified confidence in the power of its subject.
Aronson's film is a fond portrait, loaded with bizarre, haunting music and Smith's off-kilter inspirations.
What Danielson doesn't do enough of is reveal [Daniel] Smith's music on its own terms.
J L Aronson's documentary is about Daniel Smith, a musician who performs Christian music that is a world away from most of what is heard under that label.
From his irritating squeak of a voice to an infantile stage presence that includes dressing himself as a multifruit-bearing tree, Smith's comical incompetence wins him the adoration of adolescent misfits.
There is an undeniable quirky appeal to the creative world of Daniel Smith, though those who hope a behind-the-scenes look will explain his motivation or personality won't find the enigma resolved here.
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