The recent passing of director Jonathan Demme offered a chance to reflect on his unique gifts as a filmmaker—including overseeing the most extraordinary concert film in the history of the genre. This compilation of several 1983 Los Angeles performances by Talking Heads is one of the few rock docs that takes the time to be truly cinematic, refusing to fall back on the editing rhythms of singer-other musician-crowd reaction shot-repeat. Instead, Demme and head Head David Byrne—who conceived the unique structure of these performances, in which members of the touring band are added more or less one at a time for each successive song—turn the movie into a glorious, joy-filled chronicle of music as collaborative, communal event, even as it keeps turning corners visually into an experimental art project. At the center of it all is Byrne’s magnetic performance, beginning from the herky-jerky solo version of “Psycho Killer” through the iconic loose-limbed “big suit” dance in “Girlfriend is Better;” with all respect to F. Murray Abraham, Byrne should have been the Oscar-winner for 1984.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Producer: Gary Kurfirst and Gary Goetzman
Cast: Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir, Steven Scales, Lynn Mabry, Ednah Holt, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and David Byrne