‘Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids’
When Jonathan Demme makes a concert movie, he doesn’t just make a concert movie. It’s not that he does anything fancy. “Stop Making Sense,” his three Neil Young films and his new bash for Justin Timberlake are each straight-up records of a show. What makes Demme the concert movie’s greatest auteur is the way he captures the the thrill, the joy, even the humanity of performance.
The boy bander is the most mainstream name he’s ever lensed, but you can see why he was drawn to him: Glitz and garishness and all, it’s clear Timberlake sincerely loves his packed stadium shows. And it’s not just about him: He loves his musicians, his back-up singers, his crew and, of course, the throngs who’ve paid to be there. Timberlake feeds off everyone’s energy, then gives back in kind. You don’t have to know Demme’s the one doing the looking to know that what’s onscreen isn’t a mere cash cow; it’s something beautiful, even utopian. You don’t have to know more than two of his songs to find it 90 minutes of transcendence.
Action and comedy are two genres that shouldn’t go together. And, frankly, they usually don’t. More times than not they cancel each other out. We’re not going to say “Hot Fuzz,” Edgar Wright chaser to “Shaun of the Dead,” is better at action than it is comedy. But it’s one of the few where the cheeky thrills don’t get in the way of some truly inspired yuks. Simon Pegg proved he was as adept as a lean adrenaline junkie as he was a slacker, playing a super-cop banished to a Nowhere, England town that’s not as quaint as it looks. Wright knows the language of action better than most action-makers, and that includes the non-action exposition, which proves funnier than when guns belatedly go blazing.