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Review: Stop Making Sense

As part of its last major series of midnight screenings, Sunshine Cinema played Stop Making Sense, the late Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads concert film. I missed my opportunity to see it back then (I was out of state at the time), but fortunately, good ol’ Saint Nick left a copy of the Blu-ray under my Christmas tree, and tonight, I finally got around to popping it in.

I consider myself a very, very casual Talking Heads fan; I’d heard their stuff on the radio more times than I can count, but I didn’t really start paying attention to it until my brother (jokingly) introduced me to the isolated vocal track for “Once in a Lifetime”—that was a major game changer, allowing me to more fully appreciate the band’s experimental, avant-garde style. 

Watching them perform live is an even more transformative experience. David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Alex Weir, et al. dance and sway in perfect unison; their movements are clearly meticulously choreographed, yet somehow manage to feel spontaneous, always motivated by the music—as though they’re all possessed by their instruments, avatars of the gods of rhythm, rock, and funk.

I wish I’d been able to catch Stop Making Sense in a proper theatrical environment, but the comparatively small screen of my television set hardly diminished the magnificence of Byrne’s and Demme’s mesmerizing, intoxicating spectacle.

[Originally written April 13, 2018.]

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