Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★½

I don't have a lot to say about this as a movie. It's a really good concert movie, and I'm a fan. Random thoughts:

• That was exactly the right time for that band to do a film. Speaking in Tongues was a great album, but in kind of a heavy-footed studio-bound way that would naturally make people wonder what the live version might be like; they'd done enough different kinds of things that you could tell a story throughout the show by going in stages from minimal and twitchy to complicated and luscious; and they had Bernie freaking Worrell and Steve Scales in the band, without whom this sound couldn't happen.

• I still don't like Tom Tom Club, but I find it pretty funny that Chris Frantz later said he wished he'd been "a little bit more reserved on the microphone" in that song. How would you snarl "James Brown" over and over again in a reserved way?

• I wish it were easier to find the longer version of the movie; if you haven't seen the outtakes of "Cities", "Big Business", and "I Zimbra", they're great and they're easy enough to find online, but they work even better in context. I wonder if it was just about running time, or if those weren't considered crowd-pleasers or what. "Big Business" is one of the two Byrne songs in the movie that isn't from a Talking Heads album; the other one is "What a Day That Was", both of them being from his score for The Catherine Wheel which (while I like it a lot) is not really about rocking out. Here they are rocking out.

• As a young guy I was about as skinny as David Byrne looks in this, very awkward and with a big head, and I'm pretty sure that was part of why I immediately became a fan. (When you have that big a head, there aren't a lot of ways to make it look smaller; he found a pretty effective way.) But I was nowhere near as ridiculously athletic as David Byrne is in this. He's running and jumping and staggering all over the place, how do his costumes not melt?

• I wish I didn't have Lou Stathis's pissy dismissive review of this, from his column in Heavy Metal, burned into my brain for some reason. Stathis was an interesting critic sometimes but he was so very unhappy at having been, I guess, forced to watch this when (as he said in the first sentence) he hated all concert movies and hated Talking Heads. Oh well.

• My meowy cat has never meowed so much through a film. I think it was something about Worrell's keyboard effects.

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