Entertainment

"David Byrne's American Utopia" is a rousing, vibrant spectacular that rivals "Stop Making Sense"


Spike Lee nicely captures Byrne's mind and body as well as his musical talents in "American Utopia," the lively documentary version of the hit Broadway show that makes its way to HBO for safe viewing, after it was selected as the Opening Night feature at this year's Toronto Film Festival and had a Spotlight presentation at the recent New York Film Festival.


These comments form the show's thread, about developing and defining who we are as people, our connections with others, and even discussions about democracy , immigration , and Black Lives Matter , among other topics.


He performs snippets from Kurt Schwitters' "Sonate in Urlauten" to illustrate how these nonsense poets reminded the world of different, independent minds with ideals that were beyond war and nationality, before launching into a rousing rendition of "I Zimbra," which features lyrics from Hugo Ball's Dadaist poetry and African beats.


The drumming is rhythmic and pulsating and proves why a later shot of Brazilian percussionist Gustavo Di Dalva performing a solo during the song "Blind," is so enthralling.


And in the pièce de résistance, a performance of Janelle Monáe 's galvanizing protest song, "Hell You Talmbout," Lee cuts away to people holding posters of slain Black men and women, including Treyvon Martin , Sandra Bland , Emmett Till , and too many other victims of racist violence, along with their names on screen.


Thankfully, Lee resists shooting the members of audience in close-up save a quick cut during "Burning Down the House," but he does go off stage for the infectious "Road to Nowhere," when Byrne and his band march along the theater's perimeter for the upbeat finale.






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