The Essentials – April 2014: Jonathan Demme

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Each month on The Balcony, I explore one filmmaker through a handful of their finest films in a feature called The Essentials. In odd months, I explore the works of international directors. In even months, the films of American auteurs take centre stage. Last month, I examined three works from recent Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón, who began his career making sexy but topical comedies in his native Mexico, and has most recently brought us two of the most audacious and compelling science fiction films of all time, Children of Men and Gravity.

This April, I return to a beloved American filmmaker, a man best known for some sterling concert documentaries and for directing what may be the creepiest Best Picture winner of all time. Jonathan Demme is one of the most eclectic filmmakers in contemporary cinema, moving from suspense-thriller to topical drama, romantic comedy to indie character study with aplomb. This year, Demme will make his first mainstream film in more than a decade, a drama called Ricky and the Flash for screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno), starring a little known actor named Meryl Streep.

To celebrate the director’s return to mainstream cinema, I wanted to explore two of his adored concert documentaries and at least one of his Oscar-nominated dramas. Masterful with actors, leading eight of them to Academy Award nominations (and four of those to wins), and a visionary of the concert film, Demme remains one of American cinema’s most influential filmmakers.

This April, I will examine four of Jonathan Demme’s finest and most essential films:

  • April 4, 2014: Stop Making Sense (1984)
  • April 11, 2014: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • April 18, 2014: To be determined (either Something Wild (1986) or Rachel Getting Married (2008))
  • April 25, 2014: Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)

Stay tuned.

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