Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★

Just fine, with Jonathan Demme shooting everything with a rhythmic finesse. But I am at a loss as to why Stop Making Sense is so widely adored. David Byrne and the Talking Heads go nearly through a dozen and a half songs, every other one I recognize as something I’ve heard on the soundtrack of another 80’s movie that I’ve enjoyed (“Once in a Lifetime” was jovially used during my personal fave “Down & Out in Beverly Hills” in ’86). For a few brief seconds Byrne on his entrance to the stage comes off as a Poindexter geek. But the moment music bursts he’s like David Lynch infused with the spirit pantomime of Robin Williams, David Bowie and Buster Keaton rolled into one. Amiable weirdo Byrne, in an oversized suit that’s homage to Japanese theater, undeniably has an ecstatic and decathlon-running energy.

That can only take me so far. Less than halfway through, I realized it was a full concert film that wasn’t going to leave the stage of the Hollywood Pantages and that it would have no cutaways to backstage interviews. I started to go through some old family photo albums while I had the film on in the background, and the music energy while revisiting my own times served me well. Byrne has a way as a performer catching my eye every now and again, but it’s not like I had to put everything down in order to surrender myself to the whoa factor of something like, say, “Pink Floyd: The Wall.”

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