Note from the writer
My hope for this blog is to humbly encourage and expose readers to movies they might otherwise not seek out while celebrating other well-known works, keeping them up to date with Nashville film happenings.
Stop Making Sense
The new restoration of the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense brings the band that disbanded over thirty years ago back to theaters. Currently showing at the Belcourt, the filming of their December 1983 concerts is more fiction than documentary; this was a group at the peak of its performing ability.
David Byrne begins by himself on stage, and more band members gradually join him as each new song begins. At full strength, the Talking Heads bring an intensity to the screen that projects itself back onto you. The ecstasy of their performance is a celebration of the togetherness it creates.
Jonathan Demme’s narrative is strongly intent on highlighting the process of musical creation. It is slightly undermined by the group’s breakup several years later due to their clashing egos. With this in mind, their performances embody an ideal they themselves could not maintain. Even if one may have a less favorable opinion of the presentation, it’s not often you can hear the Talking Heads this loudly anymore without receiving a noise complaint.
On Saturday, October 7th, one of the greatest British filmmakers passed away. Terence Davies’ work has gone underseen throughout his life. Many of his projects have failed to receive appropriate funding, and some were never able to be made due to these struggles. Despite this unfairness, the emotional intensity and impact never faded from his living work.
I have not seen all of his movies, but from what I have watched, The Long Day Closes is my favorite. The 1992 film is a beautiful collage of childhood and memory in 1950s Liverpool (streaming on Criterion Channel). Davies flashes his sensitivity for music in its remembrance of times far away. The autobiographical feature is a reckoning between sexuality and religion that would also be a theme of some of his later works.
One such example is his final narrative film, Benediction. While it is a biopic of the famous British poet Siegfried Sassoon, it remains a deeply personal reflection of Davies. There is a candid frustration of artistry present that is owned by Terence Davies as much as it is by Sassoon. The film follows a few of Sassoon’s romantic affairs with men before eventually meeting his wife. Davies’ poetic style effectively designs to capture Sassoon’s writing and life. I highly recommend it. (Streaming on Hulu).
Other films of his streaming:
Distant Voices, Still Lives 1988 (Tubi)
The Neon Bible 1995 (Tubi, Pluto)
The House of Mirth 2000 (Showtime, Academic Video Online (free for Vanderbilt students))
The Deep Blue Sea 2011 (Tubi, Amazon Prime, Academic Video Online)
A Quiet Passion, 2016 (Tubi, Amazon Prime)
Fall seems like it has finally taken residency on campus, which means it’s the perfect time to rewatch Over the Garden Wall. While not a movie, the childhood animated adventure series is a popular and charming favorite that runs under two hours. (Streaming on Hulu).
Titane is Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or winning body horror. Released in 2021, it follows a murderous woman who has had a titanium plate put in her head since childhood. The film occasionally pushes on the disturbing, but at its core, it’s about love and family. Not a great date movie. (Streaming on Hulu).
If you haven’t yet had the time to catch it, Wes Anderson’s new short film adaptations of four Roald Dahl stories are still fresh to Netflix. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, The Swan, The Rat Catcher, and Poison are classic to the obvious directorial style. With impressive mobile sets and a great cast, it’s a disappointment they are banished forever to the abyss of Netflix.