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One Movie Punch

Jun 28, 2018

Welcome back to Documentary Thursdays! After last week’s important, but depressing documentary, I thought I would find one that’s a little lighter on the soul. Are you a fan of music? Check out Episode #083 (“Roxanne Roxanne”) and Episode #086 (“Paradox”), each from a different genre. And if you have other concert films or music-related films to suggest, let us know at

And now...

Today’s movie is “Stop Making Sense” (1984), the classic concert film featuring Talking Heads, written and directed for the screen by Jonathan Demme and David Byrne. The film was produced over a three-day gig at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, capturing the music and the stage show. It debuted at a few film festivals before a short theatrical run, then returned in 1999 with a re-mastered version, and continues to be featured at music and film festivals.

Spoilers ahead.

If you aren’t a fan of Talking Heads, then this film probably won’t do much for you. I’m willing to bet most folks only know one or two songs by name, and perhaps their music videos. It took me a while to get into them myself, mostly because people love to ridicule a lot of the music from the 1980s. And let’s face it, David Byrne is a special kind of musical and artistic genius that isn’t necessarily everyone’s taste. So, if you hate the music, then this film isn’t for you.

Now, if you ARE a fan of Talking Heads, then this film is probably one of the main reasons you are. The band only had one Top 10 hit in “Burning Down The House” (yes, featured in this film) and a close hit in “Once in a Lifetime” (also featured in the film). However, this particular film, and the soundtrack that followed, stayed on the charts for over two years, and contain some of their most dynamic performances. I even found some of the songs still speaking to me over thirty years later.

The trailer (check the blog) has some of the neatest editing, which I had hoped would have been the entire artistic direction for this film. Compared to the stage shows of today, Talking Heads might seem a little trite, but from the set-building opening act through their classics and right up to the closer, you get an authentic experience, using the tools available, and keeping to previous forms. And bonus points for thanking the crew at the end of the show by bringing them on stage.

“Stop Making Sense” (1984) is a classic concert film that struck a chord for music fans and cemented Talking Heads as a fixture in the new-wave movement. It has the subtle aesthetic of Byrne mixed with the intensity of their stage show. New wave and eighties fans who wanted to know what it was like, and didn’t get the chance to be there, should definitely check out this film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Metacritic: 89

One Movie Punch: 8.2/10 

“Stop Making Sense” (1984) is not rated and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.