When you talk about concert movies, there's always a handful that have to be included as a matter of course.
There's Martin Scorsese's 'The Last Waltz', the raw madness of 'Woodstock', and the joyful quirkiness of Talking Heads and 'Stop Making Sense'. Originally filmed in 1983 over a period of four nights, it became one of the defining concert movies of the '80s and cemented Talking Heads and David Byrne as a truly creative presence.
Well, in the space of over 30 years, David Byrne hasn't lost any of his energy and, as it turns out, you can crank out a pretty great concert movie from his live shows. 'American Utopia', which ran on Broadway, was turned into a concert movie by none other than Spike Lee.
The movie, which premiered at TIFF yesterday, has been winning rave reviews, with many of them naming it as equal to 'Stop Making Sense'. Variety's review called it "better than the next best thing — it feels more like a whole new thing," and said that it was "David Byrne and Spike Lee reveling in the majesty, and hidden magic, of the here and now."
IndieWire, meanwhile, called it one of the best concert docs since 'Stop Making Sense', and said that it "isn’t just a concert doc, but also a life-affirming, euphoria-producing, soul-energizing sing-along protest film that’s asking us to rise up against our own complacency."
AV Club, meanwhile, talked about how as "it’s hard not to process 'American Utopia' as both a balm and a requiem for live experiences, like going to a concert with a bunch of screaming fans or sharing a cathartic movie with an auditorium full of people."
The movie is set to premiere on HBO Max in the US on October 17th, with it hopefully making its way into special cinema screenings in the new year.