Docs That Rock

SXSW Recap: Twice in a Lifetime

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Director David Hillman Curtis has cojones. By doing a documentary on Talking Heads frontman turned solo artist David Byrne, he treads upon perhaps the most hailed concert film ever, Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense. But from the get go, Ride, Rise, Roar is unflinching about measuring up to the historical legacy: the film opens with the Heads’ seminal Once in a Lifetime.

From there, it’s a full concert doc of a few of the Heads’ standards but mostly choices from Byrne’s solo career. Each song is interrupted by a short narrative from Byrne, someone in his band or someone associated with the concert. And…it’s good. The spine of the film is that Byrne adeptly integrated choreography into his stage performance, where three dancers play a role in every song not only by dancing but moving instruments around the stage, using guitars as movement devices and even making sure the chorus and other musics dance in harmony too. For Burning Down the House, the entire production wears tutus for some visually satisfying reason.

Reviews have been good. Wired called it “downright beautifully shot” and the Hollywood Reporter wrote it was “”a visceral experience… sexy, often transfixing.” Yet for all its forcefulness, the doc reaffirmed for me how long its been since Demme’s film in 1984 when the Heads were on top of the music world with their extra large jackets and extra large rhythms. This doc was elegantly done and Byrne’s solo material is fine but it’s been such a long time since Byrne was culturally on the map. His music and the doc can’t help but suffer from the implicit comparison.

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April 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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