Jonathan Demme

David Byrne Explains the Secret “Psycho Killer” Subtext of ‘Stop Making Sense’ at Lincoln Center

David Byrne was pretty bummed to be out of town a couple weeks ago when Katy Perry brought her emoji-laden live spectacle to New York arenas. “I would never want to do all that, but it might spark an idea,” the former Talking Heads leader told the crowd at Lincoln Center Friday night. How he got from Stop Making Sense, the Talking Heads’ influential concert film that’s currently celebrating its 30th anniversary with a digital release and theatrical run, to the queen of the “California Gurls” is a testament to Byrne’s unique creative wiring. Following a screening of Stop Making Sense at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision series, Byrne gave a glimpse into his mind, including his intended second meaning behind the rock doc: the “Psycho Killer” trying to heal through human connection and art.… Read More

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The 25 Most Suspenseful Movies Ever Made

It’s mid-October, and with Halloween around the corner, ‘tis the season for scary movies. (We’ve got a few suggestions, as you may have noticed.) But wait, you might be saying. (It’s possible.) I like to be scared at movies, but I don’t like all the blood and guts that seem unavoidable in modern horror. What about me? Well, it would seem that you don’t like gore of horror, but you like the tension and suspense. Never fear; we’ve collected the 25 most suspenseful movies of all time, guaranteed to creep you out without grossing you… Read More

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The Embarrassing Early Films of Oscar-Winning Directors

Argo, Ben Affleck’s third feature film, is looking more and more like a lock for the Best Picture prize at Sunday’s Oscars, and even if the man himself didn’t get a Best Director nomination, it’s still a remarkable culmination of one of the most fascinating second acts in Hollywood. The actor-turned-director seemed shockingly confident and assured in his first feature, 2007’s marvelous Gone Baby Gone, but as The Playlist reminded us this week, his first film (pre-Good Will Hunting, even) was a 1993 short inventively titled I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Ηung Ηer on a Μeathook & Νow I Have a Three-Picture Deal with Disney. It is, as is often the case with these things, not very good, and (to his credit) Affleck is the first one to admit it: “It’s horrible. It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it. It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise.” But Affleck can take comfort in the fact that he’s not the only filmmaker with a cinematic skeleton in his closet: we found eight auteurs who rose to the Best Director Oscar from rather humble cinematic beginnings. … Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. During his appearance on The Tonight Show last night, President Obama addressed Richard Mourdock’s recent comments about rape, as well as his longstanding feud with Donald Trump. Watch the interview here.

2. ABC has purchased a new comedy called Garage Bar that will be written, directed, and executive produced by Zach… Read More

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Darkly Funny Behind-the-Scenes Photos from 'Silence of the Lambs'

We love exploring behind-the-scenes moments from our favorite television shows and movies, but as Halloween draws near, we’ve been focused on essential horror films. One of the works that will undoubtedly make our list is Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. The always wonderful website This Must Be the Place published a series of behind-the-scenes images from the movie, and it’s somewhat surreal to see the cast — figures we’ve feared for over two decades — laughing it up on set. Hopkins is pictured chuckling behind his steel-toothed mask and crew members pose next to a disfigured female skin suit. Ted Levine, who plays Buffalo Bill, doesn’t break character too much, but we do get to see his on-screen pet dog Precious as a stuffed toy! Put the lotion in the basket, and head to our gallery for more darkly funny… Read More

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Jonathan Demme Directing ‘My Dinner with Andre’ Reunion

Depending on who you ask, the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre is either a brilliant philosophical work or a boring, pretentious movie in which two guys — Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn — eat dinner in a fancy restaurant and have a pseudointellectual conversation. Those two camps will soon have a new excuse to… Read More

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10 Modern Movies That Are Better in Black and White

[Editor's note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we're revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published May 23, 2011.] A few weeks back, we mentioned that list of Steven Soderbergh’s “cultural diet” (films viewed and books read and TV watched over the course of one year), noting that, in one week, he took in Raiders of the Lost Ark no less than three times — and that he carefully pointed out that each viewing was in black and white. In writing about that list, I said that this was something “we’re totally going to do now,” and last week, I did. Guess what? Soderbergh’s right. Raiders is way better in black and white.

That little experiment got me thinking about other modern movies that might play better in this decidedly less-than-modern format. There is, we can all agree, just something about black and white. In his wonderful 1989 essay “Why I Love Black and White,” Roger Ebert wrote: “There are basic aesthetic issues here. Colors have emotional resonance for us… Black and white movies present the deliberate absence of color. This makes them less realistic than color films (for the real world is in color). They are more dreamlike, more pure, composed of shapes and forms and movements and light and shadow. Color films can simply be illuminated. Black and white films have to be lighted. With color, you can throw light in everywhere, and the colors will help the viewer determine one shape from another, and the foreground from the background. With black and white, everything would tend toward a shapeless blur if it were not for meticulous attention to light and shadow, which can actually create a world in which the lighting indicates a hierarchy of moral values.”

Once I picked the movies that we thought would work for this experiment, I realized that trying to just describe them in a standard post wouldn’t work at all. So I’m doing something different with this post: I made a little video for each title, with clips transformed to black and white and commentary explaining why each one was selected. Check out Raiders and my other choices after the jump. … Read More

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Watch Jonathan Demme’s Short Film About Occupy Wall Street

Jonathan Demme is known for his mastery of all sorts of movie genres, from thriller (Silence of the Lambs) to concert doc (Stop Making Sense, his Neil Young films) to emotionally wrenching drama (Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married). And since many of his films have had political overtones, it’s not surprising to learn that he is fascinated by the Occupy movement. Demme has created a 15-minute short that documents daily life at Zuccotti Park — the drum circles, the dancing, the conversations between strangers, the menacing police presence, the young people sleeping among tarps, the signs, the passionate speakers, the news cameras. The filmmaker told Deadline that the video is “an informercial for Occupy Wall Street, a citizen’s response to something important… I have no agenda, but I’m an enthusiast and support this so passionately that in a tiny way I wanted to contribute.” Demme says he has at least one more Occupy short in the works. … Read More

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10 Memorable One-Actor Movies

Of particular note amongst this week’s new DVD and Blu-ray releases is Buried, Rodrigo Cortés’s tense, harrowing tale of a contractor, buried alive, trapped for the duration of the film in a 2’ x 7’ wood coffin. This is a risky formula for movie-making — not only must the filmmakers keep our interest in that confined space, but star Ryan Reynolds undertakes the considerable challenge of holding the audience’s attention, basically by himself, for 90+ minutes. … Read More

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