229 Great Directors: Jonathan Demme

“I don’t think it’s sacrilegious to remake any movie, including a good or even great movie. I think what’s sacrilegious is to make a bad movie, whether it’s a remake or an original. It’s what I always tell my actor friends, anybody who’s in this, this [business], you’ve gotta try to hold out and only do the scripts, do the material that offers you the opportunity to do your best work. Because if you do stuff that doesn’t give you that opportunity? Your work’s not gonna be good. And you’re gonna suffer in the long run from that. So I don’t care if it’s a remake if it’s a great script with parts in it that can attract fantastic actors, God, you know, to make the movie.”

What Got This Director Here?
: He has a lot of good stuff, but Silence of the Lambs is doing the heavy lifting here.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Silence of the Lambs.

What Did I Watch: Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, with a rewatch of Stop Making Sense following.

Where Does He Fit: Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is like what Stop Making Sense must be for those people who aren’t terribly fond of Talking Heads. I didn’t consider myself a huge fan of that group until the documentary, but the fact remains that David Byrne’s physicality is weirder and rubbery, as opposed to the rehearsed pop star perfection of Timberlake’s accomplished dance moves, set to banal songs that I personally found interminable. Demme’s direction is good, but really: we all know which is the better one here. I spent 95 minutes impatiently awaiting my rewatch of SMS, with dancing lamps substituted for the vaguely bland people who are way too fond of praying before the show for my atheist likings. (Yes, I’m in asshole atheist mode for a concert picture.)

Stop Making Sense, in contrast, is glorious, in part because the music is just that much better. Byrne really has to play so many different characters, from the psycho killer to the man who is looking for the place that this must be, or just living out life during wartime. He sings like an exorcism, the background players get their time in the sun, and the order of the songs helps them play off each other as opposed to one long reel of Timberlake singing about his failed relationships. Give me the cerebral touching the performative at the same time.


Most Valuable Asset: Humanism for both the real and the phony.
Most Excited For: Something Wild. (And a proper version of the Swing Shift director’s cut. Goldie Hawn is an asshole.)
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Italian madman, Dario Argento.


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