****/**** Image B Sound A Extras A-
directed by Jonathan Demme
by Bryant Frazer Stop Making Sense opens sparely, with a close-up of a man striding onto an empty stage. By "empty stage," I don't mean a bare stage, exactly. I mean a big empty theatre space--it's basically a rectangular room behind a proscenium, illuminated by bare light bulbs dangling overhead--with furniture, ladders, scaffolding, and the like cluttered near the walls. It feels less like a performance is about to begin than like a rehearsal or, and maybe more to the point, an audition. And by "close-up," I don't mean a tight shot on the man's face. Rather, we are looking at his lower extremities--white shoes, white pants--in a SteadiCam shot that follows him to a waiting microphone stand. He plops a boombox down beside him and announces, in a faux-naïf voice, "I have a tape I want to play." If you know the Talking Heads, you'll recognize this immediately as David Byrne's shtick. But if this film is your introduction to the band--as it was for teenaged me--there may be something off-putting about the whole precious set-up. "What's up with this fucking twerp," I remember thinking, "and his art-damaged affectations?" I quickly learned the joke was on me.