demi adejuyigbe’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve been listening to Stop Making Sense nonstop for the past few months since I did talked about it on the Blank Check podcast (great cast good boys!!!!) and I keep forgetting to log it. So here are a bunch of the very unorganized notes I took from when I last watched it (on the 35th anniversary of the film!!)
–– I’m embarrassed to admit this but… this is the only Jonathan Demme movie I have ever seen. Yes, that includes Silence of the Lambs. Yes, that includes Ricki and the Flash. Please don't doxx me over this, Flashheads.
–– I actually only really discovered Talking Heads in college when a friend of mine told me that this Friendly Fires song I loved, called “In The Hospital,” seemed like a rip-off of Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless.” And whenever we talked about them, I'd say “the Talking Heads” and she’d go “Talking Heads. No ‘the’.” Which I thought was so pedantic until I realized they literally have an album called ‘The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads.’
This was also the time I got suuuuuper into Radiohead, which eventually became my favorite band, and of course, they are named after the Talking Heads song "Radio Head." Which I have never heard. (And was a song inspired by Stephen Tobolowsky! Who co-wrote True Stories with David Byrne and Beth Hanley. He also inspired Dismemberment Plan with a line he had in Groundhog Day.) (<— I have since rectified this and literally watched True Stories mere days ago! See Flashheads, I'm capable of growth!)
–– I love rock that you can dance to. Talking Heads is peak that. I think they’re one of my favorite bands. Talking Heads feels like a band that could very easily be making music for a children’s variety show with puppets if they hadn’t hit it big with so many adults– and that is NOT an insult. Their music is so fun and dance-y but still weird enough and with enough crazy instrumentation that it probably speaks to kids in this strange way where they like the sounds. Like David Byrne’s voice when he howls “Drop me in the water!” During ‘Take Me To The River” or whenever Jerry Harrison sings JAMES BROOOOOWN on Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.”
–– I love that Demme doesn’t let the crew be invisible and focuses on the machinations of this show. Like, watching a crew pull a stage out is super distracting during a song, but it feels like they really want you to notice them doing it and not let the flow of the show stop for this build up. It makes me think he wants you to know that they’re just as much a part of the performance as the band is, at least for this concert film.
– When Lynn Mabry & Ednah Holt come out and sing and they’re dancing and clearly having SO much fun with each other, I think that’s the point at which I fully realize the greatness of this documentary and how it showcases performing as something that feels best (to me) when you get to be fun and loose with people that make you feel comfortable. It’s not about making Byrne or anyone seem like rockstars or music gods, it’s about showing how much they all LOVE doing this and how good they are at it. Little things like David Byrne doing the little stomp move back and forth with the backup vocalists is fuckin’ great. I love it SO much and it makes me wish I was part of a band. And most of the moves don’t look very rehearsed which is why they work so well.
–– “Burning Down the House” is so fucking good, especially when Steve Scales and Alex Weir go OFF. Alex and David dancing at the end of Burning Down The House is one of my favorite things and makes me feel truly warm inside. Wild how they cured racism together in that one moment!!
–– Very curious about the director’s role during a concert film or like a standup performance. Is it mostly running the concert a few times to see where they should have cameras and what to capture? Moments like when Byrne is dancing during “Life During Wartime” and the camera is through the crowd right on him- incredible decision! Honestly impressed that they could choreograph the cameras so they don’t get in the way, while also choreographing the dancing enough that they can reasonably cut between multiple nights of a performance. I wonder if Demme had some input on the choreo. Reminds me of the moment in the Beyonce Homecoming concert film where they cut PERFECTLY between the two nights and everyone’s outfits change from yellow to pink.
–– Byrne’s cardio is NUTS. Absolutely insane. Would kill to see the 15 minutes of him being hooked up to a bunch of hospital equipment after getting off stage.
–– [Lucille Bluth voice] I don’t care for “Swamp.”
–– “What A Day That Was” is fucking incredible. And shot mostly in closeup which is a strange choice to me for a) a concert film b) a song that is made so much by the feeling of the multiple parts, like that harmonizing! It is criminal that this song, which I fully believe to be one of Talking Heads’ best, is technically a very different song Byrne wrote for a Broadway play. Criminal!!
–– For “This Must Be The Place”, the lamp being the primary lighting & home backgrounds are a great decision, as are having them all perform close to each other without stands. Also, as many times as I listen to “This Must Be The Place,” I will never not feel so absolutely moved by it. A perfect love song.
–– “Genius of Love” is a great song with insane lyrics. Chris Frantz playing hype man on it is so fun, and made hilarious with the way it’s edited.
–– My man lookin’ like “Forrest Trump” in that red hat and big pants.
–– The film is perfect as it is, but something about the shots of the audience at the end makes it even… more perfect? Somehow? How diverse the crowd is, how much fun they’re all having. AND THE BABY! WITH THE UNICORN! And the stage guys!! This is the magic of music!