"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Million Dollar Movie

When I was 13 I was eager to see Amadeus so I went to the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas one Saturday afternoon to catch it. But it was sold out. Instead, I saw Stop Making Sense. It remains one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater.

From P. Kael’s review:

“Stop Making Sense” makes wonderful sense. A concert film by the New York new-wave rock band Talking Heads, it was shot during three performances at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in December, 1983, and the footage has been put together without interviews and with very few cutaways. The director, Jonathan Demme, offers us a continuous rock experience that keeps building, becoming ever more intense and euphoric. This has not been a year when American movies overflowed with happiness; there was some in “Splash”, and there’s quite a lot in “All of Me”—especially in its last, dancing minutes. “Stop Making Sense” is the only current movie that’s a dose of happiness from beginning to end. The lead singer, David Byrne, designed the stage lighting and the elegantly plain performance-art environments (three screens used for backlit side projections); there’s no glitter, no sleaze. The musicians aren’t trying to show us how hot they are; the women in the group aren’t there to show us some skin. Seeing the movie is like going to an austere orgy—which turns out to be just what you wanted.


1 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 18, 2012 8:52 am

I've never seen that movie. I must.

Byrne has a book out, hot off the presses. It was absolutely shredded in the Times. The reviewer suggested seeing the movie instead.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 18, 2012 9:19 am

1) I haven't seen it in years but I bet it's still great. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Demme did a wonderful job directing it, too.

3 Matt Blankman   ~  Sep 18, 2012 9:55 am

Great film! I saw it with an audience for the first time about 10 years ago at Film Forum and it was such a fantastic experience. I had to suppress the urge to get up and applaud at the end of each song.

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 18, 2012 10:28 am

4 months before the film was shot I saw the Heads do the same show (boom box, big shoulders and all) at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. It was probably the best show (easily the most memorable) I've ever seen.
I saw them on a Friday night. The next day, me and a bunch of friends went to see the Police on their farewell tour at JFK Stadium in Philly (with REM, English Beat, Madness, and Joan Jett warming up). There were more than 100,000 people there, and it was over 100 degrees. That concert weekend was easily the highlight of my summer before senior year.

Whenever I hear "Life During Wartime" I remember the moment in the show, toward the end of the song, "same as it ever was" the house lights came up to reveal that every person in the stadium was on its feet, dancing wildly. Burning down the house, indeed. In fact, they played that one twice, as they were in rehearsals for the movie.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 18, 2012 10:46 am

4) NICE. Thanks for sharing this story.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 18, 2012 11:06 am

oh, yeah, it's Once In A Lifetime, not "Life During Wartime" I'm referring to.

speaking of Byrne, I've got to get his new one with St Vincent. Sounds great.


7 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 18, 2012 3:40 pm

They are still at the top of my "If they got back together I would pay any amount of money to go see them" list, right alongside (don't judge me on this) classic lineup Guns N' Roses

8 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 18, 2012 7:38 pm

[4] Hey, I was at that Police show. Back in the day, I was lucky enough to attend a few JFK monster shows. Can barely remember the details, though.

9 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Sep 26, 2012 5:45 pm

Such a great band and great film.
[8] But Boat, why are the details so...hazy? :)

10 go_dvls   ~  Sep 27, 2012 10:26 pm

I was lucky enough to have attended one of the Pantages shows that was recorded for 'Stop Making Sense'. Just an amazing show. The Tom Tom Club segment was a blast.

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