By David Browne
Updated April 04, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

For all the calm, craggy beauty of his songs, country-folkie Van Zandt was tormented and self-destructive — a dichotomy that informs Margaret Brown’s artful doc Townes Van Zandt: Be Here to Love Me. One minute we see Van Zandt playing a ruminative tune; the next, we hear tales of drug taking, glue sniffing, and career sabotage. Although it doesn’t explain why Van Zandt, who died in 1997, was such a screwup, this is still the cinematic equivalent of a beautifully tragic folk ballad.

COOL CURIO Heartbreaking home movies of baby Townes.