Stop Making Sense (1984)

“I’ve got a tape I want to play.”

Synopsis:
The Talking Heads perform at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary is lavish in his praise of this “riveting concert film”, directed by Jonathan Demme and featuring the Talking Heads on their final tour together as a band. He argues that “what takes place on stage will make even [the] most skeptical into Talking Heads converts”, and labels the performances as “invariably exciting”. While I don’t disagree with Peary that this is an enjoyable, masterfully directed concert film — perhaps, as many argue, one of the best ever made — I still question whether film fanatics must see it. As with all concert films, Stop Making Sense will ultimately be of most interest to pre-existing fans of the band, and/or those wishing to get a visual sense of what the Talking Heads were all about.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • David Byrne’s wildly energetic performance
  • The creative opening sequences, in which band members appear one at a time
  • The Talking Heads performing “Once in a Lifetime”
  • Jordan Cronenweth’s cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s certainly must-see viewing for any fans of the Talking Heads.

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One Response to “Stop Making Sense (1984)”

  1. In perfect agreement; not a must.

    That said, it’s one of the better concert films – depending, of course, on how one feels about Talking Heads. Watching David Byrne here, I’m put in mind of, by turns, Tommy Tune, Pee Wee Herman and David Bowie (esp. circa 1974, his ‘lounge act’ period).

    I can’t say I was ever a huge fan. The material for this film seems to me lacking overall in melodic range (with some surprises in the arrangements). There is, however, a consistent mood, whether one is completely swept away throughout or not. Myself, I just prefer when the confluence of elements results in standouts: ‘Slippery People’, ‘Burning Down the House’, ‘Once in a Lifetime’. (Tina Weymouth is also adorable when she gets to do her Tom Tom Club number, ‘Genius of Love’.)

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