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Tag: jonathan demme

Million Dollar Movie


Love this post-credits bit from Married to the Mob (ah, Michelle):

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.

Million Dollar Movie

One worth seeing…and I bet Matt B will agree with me on this one.

From Pauline Kael:

Melvin and Howard (1980) – This lyrical comedy, directed by Jonathan Demme, from a script by Bo Goldman, is an almost flawless act of sympathetic imagination. Demme and Goldman have entered into the soul of American blue-collar suckerdom; they have taken for their hero a chucklehead who is hooked on TV game shows, and they have made us understand how it was that when something big – something legendary – touched his life, nobody could believe it. Paul Le Mat plays big, beefy Melvin Dummar, a sometime milkman, sometime worker at a magnesium plant, sometime gas-station operator, and hopeful songwriter – the representative debt-ridden American for whom game shows were created. Jason Robards plays Howard Hughes, who is lying in the freezing desert at night when Melvin spots him – a pile of rags and bones, with a dirty beard and scraggly long gray hair. Melvin, thinking him a desert rat, helps him into his pickup truck but is bothered by his mean expression; in order to cheer him up (and give himself some company), he insists that the old geezer sing with him or get out and walk. When Robards’ Howard Hughes responds to Melvin’s amiable prodding and begins to enjoy himself on a simple level and sings “Bye, Bye, Blackbird,” it’s a great moment. Hughes’ eyes are an old man’s eyes – faded into the past, shiny and glazed by recollections – yet intense. You feel that his grungy paranoia has melted away, that he has been healed. With Mary Steenburgen, who has a pearly aura as Melvin’s go-go-dancer wife, Lynda; Pamela Reed as Melvin’s down-to-earth second wife; Elizabeth Cheshire as the child Darcy; Jack Kehoe as the dairy foreman; and the real Melvin Dummar as the lunch counterman at the Reno bus depot. This picture has the same beautiful dippy warmth of its characters; it’s what might have happened if Jean Renoir had directed a comedy script by Preston Sturges. Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto. Universal, color.

Looo Looo


Something Wild is not only one of my favorite ’80s movies but one of my favorites, period.  It’s Jonathan Demme at his peak, and the stars–Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta–have rarely been better.

Here’s Pauline Kael’s blurb from The New Yorker:

Jonathan Demme’s romantic screwball comedy isn’t just about a carefree kook (Melanie Griffith) and a pompous man from Wall Street (Jeff Daniels). The script–a first by E. Max Frye–is like the working out of a young man’s fantasy of the pleasures and punishments of shucking off middle-class behavior patterns. The movie is about getting high on anarchic, larcenous behavior and then being confronted with ruthless, sadistic criminality. This rough-edged comedy turns into a scary slapstick thriller. Demme weaves the stylization of rock videos into the fabric of the movie.

Starting with David Byrne and Celia Cruz singing Byrne’s “Loco De Amor” during the opening credits, and ending with a reprise of Chip Taylor’s “Wild Thing” by the reggae singer Sister Carol East, who appears on half of the screen while the final credits roll on the other half, there are almost 50 songs (or parts of songs), several of them performed onscreen by The Feelies. The score–it was put together by John Cale and Laurie Anderson–has a life of its own that gives the movie a buzzing vitality. This is a party movie with both a dark and a light side. With Ray Liotta as the dangerous, menacing Ray; Dana Preu as the kook’s gloriously bland mother; and Margaret Colin as bitchy Irene. Also with Jack Gilpin, Su Tissue, and Demme’s co-producer Kenneth Utt, and, tucked among the many performers, John Waters and John Sayles. Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.

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