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Stop Making Sense

review by James S.


Not Rated

Running Time: 88 minutes

Starring David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison

Studio: Palm Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Demme

Retail Price: $29.95

Features: Bonus songs, Audio Commentary, Theatrical Trailer, David Byrne Self-Interview, Film Storyboard, Bios, Discography, Video Montage

Specs: Widescreen 16:9 Anamorphic, Dolby Digital 5.1 Feature Film, Dolby Digital 5.1 Studio Mix, 2.0 Stereo, All Regions

Considered the best concert film ever made, Stop Making Sense shows the band Talking Heads on a tour stop in Los Angeles. At the beginning of the live show, David Byrne walks out on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a portable stereo. After a solo performance of "Pyscho Killer," another member of the band walks out. Slowly members are added to the stage and what results is a show for the ages. The movie had people dancing in their seats when originally released in theaters. The excellent directing by Jonathan Demme is one reason. His presentation of the band gives you the feel of sitting live at the show.

Stop Making Sense looks like it came right from the original print of the film. Despite some artifacts on the print, the picture has great clarity. The color was never a selling point to the film, as the band members appear mostly in earth tones. The stylistic approach to the film prevented the strong contrast of colors. However, what color exists in the film is strong. The ocassional red backdrop is simply brilliant. The David Byrne self-interview has terrible video quality. However, this is intentional, as Byrne was attempting to recreate a program reminiscent of a cable access presenation.

Stop Making Sense comes packed with three sound tracks. Depending on your home theater setup, you can dial up a digitally remixed and remastered version of the original sound. The Feature Film Mix puts the listener in the front row of the performance, whereas the Studio Mix is supposed to give the sensation of sitting at the mixing board. The two tracks are truly different, and I tend to favor the more in-your-face Feature Film mix. Finally, the stereo mix is a traditional mix for audio purists. The sound of the band is tremendous. David Byrne's acoustic guitar sounds great, and Tina Weymouth's bass guitar performance on "Heaven" is simply wonderful.

Most importantly to fans of Talking Heads, the DVD of Stop Making Sense contains bonus tracks cut from the theatrical release. In addition, the classic David Byrne self-interview is enclosed. This humorous piece shows Byrne at his wierdest. Static features include a description of Byrne's "Big Suit," bios of the band and director Demme, the band's discography, and a storyboard with David Byrne's intentions for the various songs. The theatrical trailer captures the excitement in the film. The video montage is a several minute video showing bits and pieces of the film that adds little to the disc. Finally, the commentary by the band and director, while informative and interesting, does suffer from long pauses without comments.

This movie will make anyone a fan of the now defunct band. The performance starts with a solo performance that quickly crescendos into an all out rock concert. Along the way you are treated to the best of Talking Heads' repertoire. If nothing else, there is that funky big suit.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)




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