Sunday 18 March 2018

Talking Head Byrne is no newcomer to world of making films

Midway through This Must Be the Place (see review above) there's a stunning sequence in which the central character, played by Sean Penn, travels to New York and witnesses a performance by David Byrne and his band. Director Paolo Sorrentino's camera stays with the stage as a marvellous piece of visual trickery unfolds, the set seeming to revolve and move forward as Byrne and band play the song that gives the movie its title.

Sorrentino is so enamoured by This Must Be the Place, which surfaced on Talking Heads' 1983 album Speaking in Tongues, that he uses several versions of the song in the film, including an Arcade Fire cover and an odd, moving version by a young child. David Byrne also makes an appearance in the movie, discussing art with Penn's character, which must have appealed to his sense of mischief. When Talking Heads emerged from the CBGB's punk maelstrom in New York in the mid-'70s they already appeared smarter than the average band.

For their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, they teamed up with producer and all-round egghead Brian Eno, a partnership which would yield two more outstanding albums and lead to a groundbreaking exercise in sampling and World Music My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

Visual art became increasingly important with unforgettable videos for Once in a Lifetime and Road to Nowhere and their 1984 landmark concert film. Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), Stop Making Sense displayed a sense of theatrics and stagecraft which was way above the norm. And yes, there was a lovely version of This Must Be the Place in there too.

>George Byrne

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