Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)"

Stop Making Sense

American sound cinema comes full circle in Stop Making Sense. The Production Code mandated the sanctity of marriage--after 1934, Americans saw a lot of domestic bliss, until the 1960s came around and unhappiness became fashionable (and has remained so ever since). After all, where's the story in a happy marriage? "Struggle" in post-Code American cinema is almost never class or economic struggle--rather, it is always the struggle of individuals against each other, especially individuals in close proximity
But for five-and-a-half minutes of Jonathan Demme's 1984 record of two sold-out Talking Heads concerts, we return, willingly, to the days before the disappearance of the Production Code. The stage is lit by a living room lamp, with photographs dimly rear-projected behind the band. Everyone stands close together--it's a bit like being over for a party in the suburbs. With his goofy charm, all funny facial expressions and gawky physical comedy, David Byrne could be Cary Grant. The song is apocalyptic, and its doom evokes the kind of final, romantic love fetishized by Godard and stripped from American film by the 1960s-1970s generation. There was a time, before we were born, with which we can no longer reconcile, full of idealized embraces and timeless gestures.

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