(director/writer: Laurie Anderson; cinematographer: John Lindley; editor: Lisa Day; music: Laurie Anderson; Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paula Mazur; Warner Reprise Video; 1986)

“Avant-garde performance artist Laurie Anderson brings out her bells and whistles in this entertaining concert film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Avant-garde performance artist Laurie Anderson brings out her bells and whistles in this entertaining concert film that gives those who never caught her unique act live a chance to see it on the screen. It was shot in a New Jersey theater as a fake concert.

Ms. Anderson, in her first featured film, is accompanied by two black women singers plus a great nine-piece band that includes guitarist extraordinaire Adrian Belew, Won-sang Park on the kayageum (a 12-string half-tube plucked zither), Richard Landry on horns and winds, and percussionist David van Tieghem. All the instruments are electronically modified with the latest advances in digital technology and in the background are supposedly hip computer-generated animations.

Songs from her noted breakthrough album O Superman, half-sung, half-spoken, are featured, plus a sampling of all her other fan favorite hypnotic, unusual pop songs that all have a wit and edge to them. During her songs, Ms. Anderson dressed in a white suit and with short spiky hair, cuts into them as she plays the part of a guru who uses her smarts to explain how technology reshaped modern man’s lives and how we must fight back against a fascist civilization trying to take away our individuality.

In a questionable gesture of bringing art to the masses ala MTV, she turns William S. Burroughs’s witty observation “Language is a virus” into a song lyric and then Burroughs himself appears on the stage to rap a bit. If there’s a fly in the ointment in this smooth and visually stunning concert, it’s that it seems like a marketing ploy to promote her career and not all that experimental in its flat concert format. With that being said, it was still appealing, her message is on the money, her music has to be seen to be fully appreciated and the film is a must-see for Ms. Anderson’s fan base and those looking to experience ultramodern pop music at its finest.

REVIEWED ON 7/15/2008 GRADE: B+   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/