Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense

One of the best concert films of all time gets its hi-def due with this lovingly curated reissue “Stop Making Sense.” Directed by Jonathan Demme, “Sense” captures the Talking Heads at their squirrelly best, spasmodically jumping between new wave, funk, and arty Afro-pop with a crack band of ace sidemen that included Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir, and Lynn Mabry. The Talking Heads found their footing slowly, evolving from willfully experimental Rhode Island hipsters to a merry band of world music vagabonds, and Demme frames their journey with a stage setup that opens slowly; for the opening number, “Psycho Killer,” David Byrne comes out with nothing but his guitar and a boombox. He’s joined by bassist Tina Weymouth on the next number, they’re joined by Chris Frantz next, Jerry Harrison follows Frantz, and so on and so forth, until the whole entourage is under the lights, making the most joyously paranoid racket of the ‘80s.

The Blu-ray transfer doesn’t scrub every last scratch or speck of dust from the frame, but knowing the Talking Heads, that may very well have been intentional; in any case, it makes for fine viewing at 1080p, despite periodic minor problems with the picture, and the sound – presented here in a pair of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes that let the viewer choose between the equivalent of audience and soundboard recordings – more than makes up for any visual flaws. The special features include audio commentary from the band and director (everyone’s tracks separately recorded, natch), along with other bonus content ported over from the DVD version (bonus tracks, storyboards, a few minutes of Byrne interviewing himself), plus Blu-ray exclusive footage of the 1999 press conference that reunited the band for “Stop Making Sense’s” 15th anniversary screening. There’s a short list of concert films whose contents justify a $34.99 list price, regardless of format. This is one of them. (UMVD)

Click here to buy “Stop Making Sense”