out of Five
Running time: 87
Entertaining behind-the-scenes music tour documentary film, enlivened by some terrific songs and some amusingly offbeat dance routines, though the film is constantly in the shadow of its obvious predecessor, Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense.
What's it all about?
Directed by Hillman Curtis, Ride, Rise, Roar is a behind-the-scenes documentary-slash-concert film shot over several performances during the 2008/2009 Songs of David Byrne & Brian Eno tour. The film combines colour footage (shot using several different cameras) of the songs themselves (mostly classic Talking Heads numbers performed in full, with the song titles appearing as onscreen titles), interspersed with black and white backstage footage and to-camera interviews with Byrne, Eno, the backing singers, musicians, choreographers and the dancers.
The film's main gimmick is the onstage fusion of pop music and modern dance (with Bryne and the dancers all dressed in white throughout) and initially this seems like a terrible idea, vaguely reminiscent of the scene in The Big Lebowski where The Dude goes to see his neighbour's performance art piece. However, although one or two numbers fall flat, there are several weird and interesting sequences, most notably an
entire routine consisting of the dancers lounging around in office chairs.
The songs themselves are hugely entertaining, whether you're a fan of Talking Heads or a relative newcomer (though chances are you'll have heard Heaven, Road to Nowhere or Once In A Lifetime before). Similarly, Bryne has terrific stage presence and the film somehow manages to capture the feel of the concerts with minimal use of crowd shots, giving it a very intimate feel.
The main problem is that the interviews themselves aren't actually all that interesting, although there is an amusing anecdote about Byrne telling off a security guard while on stage, and Brian Eno makes an intriguing comment about the fact that no-one ever looks for meaning in music; there's also a nice shot of Byrne riding a bike. Similarly, the film is constantly aware of the shadow cast over it by Jonathan
Demme's amazing 1984 concert movie Stop Making Sense (with Talking Heads at the height of their success), which is generally reckoned to be one of the best concert movies ever made.
While not on the level of classic rockumentaries, Ride, Rise, Roar is still an entertaining concert movie, enlivened by some terrific songs and Byrne's charismatic stage presence. If you're a fan of the band you can probably go ahead and add an extra star. Worth seeing.
Ride, Rise, Roar (12A)