Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★

Superb Talking Heads concert film shot over three nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in December 1983. It starts out with David Byrne, possibly the coolest man to ever live, performing "Psycho Killer" solo and setting a level of energy that builds and builds over the duration of the concert. Other members of the band join him on stage one by one with each subsequent song until the entire band has been assembled before our eyes. Demme shoots the performances to highlight how the individual components of the band work in tandem to create the music, giving ample camera time to the drummer, bassist, back-up singers, etc. It's a surprisingly loose, yet well-oiled machine that's above all enjoying the music.

The Talking Heads were dynamic performers, which prevents the films from feeling static or falling into repetitive patterns. Demme cuts judiciously, moving the camera about the stage at will, sometimes following Byrne as he runs in circles or falls to the grounds flailing like a fish out of water. The film hardly ever cuts to the audience, instead trusting that we understand that the audience is having as much fun in their seats as we are in the movie theater or living room. Thanks to the direction it's a surprisingly visual experience, even if the production values are minimal. It helps to have Byrne as the focal point: a man whose movements are so peculiar, yet fascinating that even his chicken-head-like bob looks like something you'd want to emulate. And oh yeah, the music's pretty good too.

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