Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★★

“Hi. I’ve got a tape that I want to play.”

A man walks on stage with nothing but a guitar, a microphone, and a boombox. What happens in the ensuing ninety minutes will change the landscape of filmed musical performances forever.

Stop Making Sense is a film that, in many ways, still struggles to be matched to this day. The cinematography, the lighting, the editing, and the sound mixing are all so perfectly catered to the screen that it perfectly captures the feeling of actually being in the audience. And what I would give to be there, in that audience, watching a mad man in a big suit jacket wiggle his lanky body across the stage. David Byrne’s physicality makes his stage presence so immediately intoxicating— it is almost as though he is possessed by the music, enchanted by some unseeable force that dictates his every action. His energy is unmatched, and his charisma draws the eyes and ears in.

Everything about this film is physical. The musicians are physical, the camera is physical, the sets are physical— there is no moment to stop and relax. You are simply there, caught in a hurricane of synths and guitar riffs. You, the audience member, are physical too— by the time you finish Stop Making Sense, your toes will hurt from tapping, your head will hurt from bobbing, and your hands will hurt from clapping. The rhythm is infectious, and it is impossible not to give in.

Talk about films being engaging or mesmerizing all you want, but Stop Making Sense is not merely that. Stop Making Sense is intoxicating. Stop Making Sense is a loud, rough, face-smashing make-out sesh with your best friend’s lover. Stop Making Sense is a toaster in a bathtub that’s been set on fire and laced with antifreeze. Stop Making Sense is sensation, it’s emotion, it’s elation, it’s transformation, it’s a heart attack on top of a heart attack— but most importantly, Stop Making Sense is a crystallized fragment of the eighties that refuses to be forgotten.

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