Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★½

A friend of mine earlier described this as "Infectious Energy: The Movie." Boy, if I haven't heard a more accurate alternate title in my life.

Jonathan Demme's documentation of a single Talking Heads concert, aptly titled Stop Making Sense, is a rapturous musical experience the likes of which I haven't had the pleasure of going through since I watched the full director's cut of Woodstock. The opening number is its greatest hook- "Psycho Killer" starts off at a rollicking high note, and the beats never stop. How one band can have so many high octane hits that kept my foot tapping through each and every second is beyond me, yet Talking Heads somehow did it.

Demme's photography is wide and distant, allowing a full view of the stage with some frequent closer portraits of David Byrne and other members as they perform their sets. There's a peculiar sense of artistry in the cinematography that is rare for a concert doc- one almost haunting in its elegance, with its grainy 35mm footage bearing a remarkable hominess onto its aesthetic. Talking Heads' remarkable technical prowess in their showmanship becomes more and more apparent as their concert progresses- Byrne has incredible mime and shadow puppeteer talents that fashion unique illusions and images for the audience as they continue performing, almost like an early stage rock and roll version of the Blue Man Group.

We aren't ever really shown the audience, omitting the fake aspects that plague concert documentaries at times, and instead are constantly focused entirely on the band and Byrne's antics. He dances with a lamp at one point, consistently utilizing a fantastic talent in his dance routine that is uplifting and eclectic. Byrne's physicality makes the movie what it is- he is in essence the show in and of itself. He is full of life and energy- you can clearly tell the power of music (yes, it does exist as I've experienced it for myself) courses through his veins like blood. It's magical. Electrifying. Everything that makes their music what it is is shown on full display, offering a concert experience that puts the viewer right in the center of the stage. Stop Making Sense is perhaps one of the greatest of its kind- a rare form of concert documentary that transcends a simple recording of a moment in musical history and turns it into a spectacular visual experience that has never been redone.

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