Friday, May 22, 2009

The Name of This Band Is...

Stop Making Sense
Talking Heads
Directed by Jonathan Demme

Say what you will about David Byrne, Lord knows I have, but he gives a performance his all. This is the mother of all concert films, a genre (I suppose it would be a genre) with precious few gems. I started watching Stop Making Sense with doubts; I really don't care for David Byrne. Talking Heads are a great band, no question there, but I've never liked him, and in a band where the frontman is so central, that can create problems. Fortunately, on their albums and in this film, I don't hear him talk much, and that's really where he loses me.

Some things this does very, very right: the show starts with Byrne, an acoustic guitar, and a drum machine. It builds from there, until eight entirely necessary people are on stage. Almost everything on stage is black, so you can more easily focus your attention on the performers, and how they interact. The shots are not quick, MTV-style shots; this is clearly a movie, not a series of Performance Videos slammed together. (Ironically, H.A.A.R.P., by Muse, is the next best concert movie I've ever seen, and it's as MTV-style as it gets... so I suppose it works both ways) The set list is well judged, and the amount of energy the musicians put into these performances is mind blowing. This is serious commitment we're watching. Highly recommended, it's known to be the best for a good reason; it is.

Grade: A

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