STOP MAKING SENSE – Film Review

Director Jonathan Demme captures the frantic energy and artsy groove of Talking Heads in this concert movie shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983. The band’s frontman, David Byrne, first appears on an empty stage, armed with only an acoustic guitar, and is gradually joined by bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz, keyboardist Jerry Harrison and a cadre of backup singers as they perform the band’s hits, culminating in an iconic performance featuring Byrne in an enormous suit.

Back in 2015, I had a weird phase where I was absolutely obsessed with 80s music. Being a millennial, and seeing as how I was in Grade 10 back then, many people thought it was weird that I wasn’t as keen on new music as I was 80s music. But nevertheless, I listened to a ton of music from that era.

There would be some weekends where I would just sit in my room and use my computer for a few hours while blasting artists such as Depeche Mode, David Bowie, and Tears for Fears. Don’t get me wrong; I still adore music from that generation, but I don’t listen to it nearly as much as I used to. That being said though, even back in 2015, I never listened to a ton of Talking Heads, although I was absolutely head over heels for their hit single “Once in a Lifetime”. I even own a shirt of theirs that has a cartoon image of lead-singer David Byrne doing a crazy dance on it.

This is why I was so excited to check out Stop Making Sense, a Talking Heads concert film that sees the band performing in the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983 to promote their fifth studio album Speaking in Tongues. After watching it, I can report that it is one of the most wildly entertaining and relaxing pieces of entertainment I have seen in quite some time. That, and, it is without a doubt the best concert film ever.

David Byrne in Stop Making Sense (1984).

With a running time of eighty-eight minutes, some people may get bored after a while, and that’s understandable, especially if you aren’t too fond of the music. But for me, I found it to be immensely fun, and I found myself tapping my feet on the ground basically the whole way through.

Set to some of their best songs such as “Psycho Killer”, “Burning Down the House”, and the aforementioned “Once in a Lifetime”, it’s comfort food in the form of a movie. It’s hard to not have fun while watching David Byrne wearing a massively-oversized suit dancing around on stage and having the time of his life. The energy that he has and carries throughout the entire concert was incredibly infectious.

Every once in a while, the camera will cut to the audience and shows several concert-goers singing along to all of their songs and having a ton of fun. Seeing how alive everybody was while watching this band perform was amazing to see. After watching the film, I have a newfound appreciation for Talking Heads, and it made me wish I was alive back in 1983 so I could have seen them in concert.

Stop Making Sense is an immensely entertaining concert film featuring David Byrne in an oversized suit, dancing around and having fun singing the Talking Heads’ greatest hits.

Overall Grade: A

MPAA Rating: N/A

Cast: Talking Heads

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

Distributed by: Cinecom Pictures, Palm Pictures

Release Date: October 18, 1984

Running Time: 88 minutes

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