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April 06, 2006

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Better than Stop Making Sense?

I guess I prefer it to Stop Making Sense (which is also great) because I kinda hate The Talking Heads. And I dig Neil Young.

Alas, I need to see both of these films. Two things would immensely help me fill in my blind spots - a Netflix subscription, and a residence in New York.

I saw Heart of Gold last night. I thought it was great. I was thinking, what are the virtues of a good concert film? This one was so good because so little was done (no cut-aways, slow, continuous shots). It succeeded because it felt more like a concert than a film. Are there concert films that succeed by using a lot of cinematic devices? Or is less more when it comes to this genre?

Steph,

When it comes to both concert films and musicals (where choreography is so important), I usually prefer directors who employ long takes and generally avoid gussying up the material with unecessary camera tricks, edits, etc. Which isn't, however, to say that Demme isn't doing some masterful things in Heart of Gold - I think his understated approach not only allows one to enjoy Young's performance as is, but also subtly reinforces many of the songs' themes.

As for concert films that take the opposite approach, the one that immediately springs to mind is the recent Beastie Boys doc Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That, which uses a totally intrusive, annoying stylistic gimmick (the film is composed of video footage shot by DV camera-wielding fans) to get at the group's rambunctious vibe. It's not as good as Heart of Gold, but it's not bad.

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