Come Along and Take that Ride

 In Articles, film, Reviews

You know those films or shows that just motivate you to create? Maybe they don’t necessarily inspire you directly, but just after you finish watching them, you feel inspired to create something, anything, just any artistic expression. I had experienced these films since I was a kid and the most recent one for me has been Spike Lee’s concert film of David Byrne’s American Utopia.

Based on his most recent album of the same name, David Byrne’s American Utopia was a stage musical/concert hybrid that ran on Broadway for multiple months in 2018 and 2019. The show, with a script written by Byrne, goes through the songs of the album along with songs from Byrne’s career, including acclaimed Talking Heads songs. The play features Byrne and 11 musicians wearing matching grey suits and dancing barefoot on the stage whilst playing cordless/portable instruments. Byrne, through the songs and his monologues, makes commentary on American values, the human situation, and our connection to one another as people. When Spike Lee approached Byrne to make a film of it, he brought his own brilliant sense of cinematography and editing style to the production. By the end of it, you can’t help but feel gleeful and hopeful for a better future.

The stand out point for me was their rendition of “Road to Nowhere”, a Talking Heads song that has been a favorite piece of mine for a while. If you have been following along with my thesis updates, you may notice that this song has the same title as my screenplay. This was no mistake. David Byrne and his style have been a major influence on me and my own aesthetics, especially with my thesis. Now, after seeing Byrne and his talented crew perform this favorite of mine in the film, I just had a feeling of rejuvenation in my work. I have been in a writing slump for a while, but this film, this joyful celebration of life, just fills me with a drive to create again.

With that, I highly recommend this film. You can watch David Byrne’s American Utopia on HBO Max (It’s an HBO Max original so I don’t believe you can watch it anywhere else).

A thesis update: I am past the halfway mark and I am almost at the end of Act 2 of the screenplay. I hope to have a finished draft of the screenplay by the end of this semester. The story wall of my apartment is still a very useful tool.


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