Critic’s Pick:  ‘Stop Making Sense’ still one of the best band documentaries ever

Jonathan Demme

Film director Jonathan Demme

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times Film Critic

In 1984, director Jonathan Demme took a detour from the quirky comedies and intense dramas that were beginning to define him so that he could indulge his fascination with rock ‘n’ rollers. The result, “Stop Making Sense,” remains one of the best band documentaries ever. The Talking Heads film was arguably the genesis point for Demme’s coming cut at the music scene, this summer’s much-anticipated “Ricki and the Flash,” starring Meryl Streep as an aging rock star. Talking Heads made for great material, with its revolutionary mash-up of punk, funk, art, avant-garde and other sounds. But what sets “Stop” apart is the intimate look at that brilliant talking head, lead singer David Byrne. The way Demme zeroed in on Byrne, his creativity and his neuroses, made the movie a seminal one. Clearly the mind as much as the music is what has always captivated the director, most clearly visible in Demme’s stream of documentaries following the remarkable Neil Young. The director’s empathy for, and understanding of, the ethos of the music world and the people in it has been masterful from the beginning. So check out his first one on Friday night at the Egyptian. Then put “Ricki and the Flash” on your summer to-do list. It will all make sense.