Film Formally

S2E05 - American Utopia and Visual Structures in Concert Cinema

October 20, 2020

There’s a new concert film out! It’s called David Byrne’s American Utopia, directed by none other than Spike Lee and shot by none other than Ellen Kuras. It documents David Byrne’s most recent tour-turned Broadway show, and it’s drawn much discussion: in particular, to David Byrne’s previous high-profile concert film, Stop Making Sense. We took this release as an opportunity to delve into the entire genre of concert cinema, and the difficulties that arise when one must turn a stage-bound show intended for a live audience into a film object. 


We also discuss Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme), Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Bert Stern, Aram Avakian), Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker, 1967), Gimme Shelter (Chartlotte Zwerin, Albert & David Maysles, 1970), Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970), The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese, 1978), U2: Rattle and Hum (Phil Joanou, 1988), Bjork: Biophilia (Peter Strickland & Nick Fenton, 2014), Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!  (Adam Yauch, 2006), Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse (Julian Schnabel, 2008), Heart of Gold (2006), Trunk Show (2009), Journeys (2011) (Jonathan Demme), and Shine a Light (Martin Scorsese, 2008)

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