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Film Review: Stop Making Sense

Updated: Apr 28

David Byrne has a whole world inside of him. From being a genius in songwriting and composition, he also has expertise in creating a concert experience like no other. I'm ashamed of myself for not having seen this sooner as its original release was in 1985. This year, the film studio A24 enhanced and rereleased the film suitable for IMAX. My first experience with the Talking Heads was around 2019 when I first watched the film 20th Century Women, and their song Don't Worry About the Government was part of the soundtrack. I fell in love with it and listened to it all the time in high school. The lyricism is not only fun, but it's also incredibly in-depth. How could someone come up with those words? It just blew my mind, and since then I've been in love with the Talking Heads.

I will admit, they haven't been in rotation a lot as of recently, but since I watched this, they're back on my playlist. I knew nothing about it going in, I even thought it was a documentary about the band, not just the filming of one of their concerts. It was a pleasant surprise that it wasn't what I'd expected. It begins with just David Byrne onstage with his guitar, opening the show with an acoustic version of Psycho Killer (one of my favorite songs!). I was confused, what band kicks off a performance with only one member, arguably the most famous, onstage? Once that song ended, the bassist, Tina Weymouth, joined David onstage. After that song, the next member joined, and then the next, so on, so forth.

That concept itself was enough to send me into a frenzy. Each song brought a new member until the whole band was onstage, even going as far as some of the members switching instruments. It's so simple yet brings so much to the quality of entertainment that the audience was experiencing. It makes me think about the modern-day concerts I've been to and if I've ever been as entertained as I was simply by watching a concert happen through a screen. I love bright lights, fire, smoke machines, all of that stuff, yet somehow it just is not what the Talking Heads had created. My favorite part of seeing this in theaters was watching the 50-something-year-olds getting up and dancing in between the seats of my row. It was heartwarming. You never know what the people around you have been through, what their history with the band was, what brought them to the theater that day. I'm pretty sure I was smiling the whole way through.

As for the technical aspects, it was equally as well done. It isn't hard to make the Talking Heads look good, though. My only complaint was that I wish they had given the other members besides David more time on camera. Everyone had such incredible energy and talent and I think they could've lingered on the whole band more. But, I think everyone knows that David Byrne is the star of the show, so it makes sense to some extent. A24 did a great job restoring it, the quality made it seem as though it could've been filmed in 2023. You could see every drop of sweat, every hair out of place, the texture of their clothes, just everything. I will never get over what they created in that room, though, both in my theater and in the venue where the movie was filmed. Towards the end, the cameras began to focus on people up and dancing in the aisles, smiles bright, and a sense of family between everyone there. Even the band members had this feeling of camaraderie and love in their attitudes on stage. It reminds me of this summer concert my family would go to every year in Eugene, the band was called Satin Love. Everyone on that stage loved each other so much, and you could see that, which caused this feeling of freedom and happiness in the audience. It's a beautiful thing to see in an industry that has become so do-your-job-and-get-paid. A wonderful take on the Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense delivers the band at its finest and most creative.


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