Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★½

Umpteenth viewing, first in a few years and first on blu-ray.

I think this is Jonathan Demme's crowning achievement as a director and it best shows off his foremost strengths as a filmmaker, notably his humanity, his ear for music and especially his careful attention to mixing up shot sizes in order to keep each scene looking distinct and different. Together with David Byrne and cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth they are constantly giving the viewer new and changing visual information which is quite astonishing considering this is a filmed stage show. The sets are constantly in flux, new characters come in and receive proper introduction and both the lighting and shot sizes change to reflect something within the song or something about the people we are watching and the way they interact with each other. You can even sort of piece together a visual narrative of David Byrne as you watch him perform and open up, starting as the straight-laced awkward yuppie alone with his boombox for "Psycho Killer" then running madly like some crazed fitness instructor then a parody of a self-help guru finding religion and finally to the kid playing with a lamp or wearing a suit much to big for him, it's a progression that usually would not be allowed in a concert film, especially one that doesn't stop for behind the scenes details or interviews.

A joyous experience that captures the Talking Heads at exactly the right time in their career, any earlier or later it wouldn't have been as compelling and the construction of the band onstage gives a great sense of how the band came together and then was forced to grow as their ambitions changed from punky grooves to the more dance-y, funk & disco influences.

The shot from the side of the stage as David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison walk forward and back strumming and plucking their guitars in trance falling in and out of lockstep with each other is worthy of comparison to Tarr.


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