Movie Thoughts: Stop Making Sense (2023)

On Saturday I did something I had not done in at least four, maybe five years. I went to a movie that was playing in the actual theatres.

Now, I’ve seen this movie before, thought not since I was in my twenties (though I’ve listened to the album God knows how many times since then), so I was not surprised to love it. I don’t find ranking the things I like to be a meaningful exercise, but if pressed to give my favourite band, there’s a good chance I’d have to say Talking Heads, so even if this weren’t something I had seen before I could have predicted I’d love a movie showing the band perform at their heights. But this post isn’t about how much I loved the movie, this is about a Movie Thought that I thought while watching a movie.

One of the things the movie is famous for is how it starts with just one person on stage and slowly builds up the whole ensemble by adding more for each of the first five or six songs. Somehow this got me to thinking about how a band is a perfect microcosm of humanity. It’s just a group of people who have come together to create something together. The results can be beautiful, but the tensions between the people can tear everything down. But the beautiful things are still happened. In spite of being the front man of Senator Lizard, I don’t generally consider myself to have any real musical ability, but you know what I big into? Cooperation. I sure wish that we, as a species, could band together to build more beautiful things.

Movie Thoughts: Whiplash

I watched Whiplash. Here is what occurred to me while I did so.

Hey Poster, if I wanted to read this much, I wouldn't be watching a movie.

This is one of those movies where everyone gets all worked up about a big competition that I, PDR, wouldn’t give a shit about. Often these are about sports. In this case, it’s about music.

Anyway, the move is fine. The actors are good. It’s shot well. All that stuff. But man, I don’t care if that kid wins the music trophy. But here’s what I do care about: This movie seems to endorse cruelty as a method of teaching.

The big bad music teacher of the movie is convinced that he needs to find the next best music man, and the way to do it is to torture his students. This, he feels, will weed out those students who aren’t fully on committed and will make the True Musician prove their worth by doubling down. It kind of sounds makes it sound like talent isn’t teachable, but is inherent in certain people and they are the only ones worth trying to teach. Seems like a dumb thing for a music teacher to espouse, but whatever. And this movie actually does paint this teacher as a bad guy. We see the negative effects this method of teaching has.

But then, in the end, main kid rises up against the cruelty and does a good music at the music championships. He seems to be doing it in an attempt to prove his bad teacher wrong, but this is exactly what his teacher wanted. Bad teacher was right all along. That sucks.

Anyway, being competitive must be awful.