Stop Making Sense
(Jonathan Demme, 1984)
I thought this was the month I was finally going to watch Shaolin Soccer
(spurred on by World Cup fever), but it continues to bother me that I don't have easy access to a definitive version of the movie. And I refuse to watch the Miramax cut. It's been seventeen years. Shouldn't there be a US Blu-Ray of the original cut by now? Sheesh.
It's possible that having to settle for Jonathan Demme's Talking Heads concert film put me in a hypercritical mood while watching it, but I was surprised that it wasn't quite as polished as I always imagined to be. This was particularly true of the editing, which seemed overly restless early on and injudicious after that. There were a few instances where there was nothing going on in the frame at the end of a shot, and I was just baffled that, with however many cameras running, the editor had nothing better to cut to. It's the kind of thing you occasionally see if a live telecast, but not a feature film.
Being less nit-picky, I found it odd that the film barely acknowledges the presence of the concert audience until the very end. It added to my own detachment as a viewer, turning the show into a series of minimalist music videos that could just as easily have been shot on a sound stage. There was a bit of sameness to the first few performances as well, in terms of the lighting and staging. I liked the conceit of the full band forming piece by piece, but I was admittedly restless nonetheless.
The music is good, however, and David Byrne is a very lifelike robot, operating with inhuman precision but still contributing heavily to all the sweat that threatened to puddle up on stage. The very distinctive 80s vibe had me wondering just how coke-infused all that perspiration was.