The hottest ticket at TIFF this year was for a 40-year-old concert film of a band that broke up in 1991.
Toronto audiences were treated to the world premiere of the new, IMAX, 4K restored version of Jonathan Demme’s Stop making senseoriginally released in 1984.
The band members: frontman David Byrne, bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz and keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Harrison all attended the screening at Toronto’s Scotiabank Theater and then took part in a Q&A with Spike Lee, who directed the concert film. David Byrne’s American utopia – which premiered in Toronto three years ago.
“I want to go on record: this is the best concert film ever!” said Lee of Demme’s film, which was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983 while The Talking Heads were on tour to promote their film. Speaking in tongues album.
“This was kind of our tour,” Bryne said Stop making sense. “It seemed like (the show) had some kind of progression, a story, and it occurred to us that maybe this could work as a movie (because it) had a beginning, a middle and an end.”
The Toronto audience went wild for the film’s re-release, cheering and clapping after every Talking Heads song and twice – during “Burning Down the House” and “Once in a Lifetime” – jumping up en masse to dance.
Harrison noted that the music for the original film was recorded digitally – “this was way back in ’84, we were pioneers in that” – but that the recently restored version is not the same as it was. The sound quality goes beyond what was possible in the original or the first re-release of the film in 1999.
“One of the wonderful things is that there is new technology, which meant we almost had the burden of adapting and bringing (the film) to what people can now hear in theaters,” said Harrison, who pointed out the multi-channel audio on the 4K version, allowing audiences to make out the sounds of the individual performers, including those of the late keyboardist Bernie Worrell.
“Talking Heads was such a good band,” Frantz said, “and when we had that expanded lineup (for the Speaking in tongues tour) with Steve Scales and Bernie Worrell and Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt and Alex Weir, they took us to a completely different dimension. I’m very grateful to be here tonight to watch this and enjoy it so much.”
The rest of the world gets the chance to enjoy again Stop making sense later this month. A24 will first bow the film as an exclusive IMAX exhibition on September 22 before rolling out in conventional theaters on September 29.