Storefront Hitchcock (1998)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts, Vocal Music  |   Release Date - Nov 20, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Perry Seibert

Listening to Robyn Hitchcock's songs is similar to experiencing a series of short, seemingly disjointed dreams that, upon waking, are remembered as one large dream whose meaning may not be too clear but leaves a humorous (or unsettling) feeling. Jonathan Demme captures that feeling with his usual expertise in Storefront Hitchcock. Released in 1997, this concert film extends the surreal elements of the songs themselves by including Hitchcock's between song patter. If one finds the meaning of his songs difficult to pin down, these supposed explanations will not help in slightest. But they do add yet another bizarre series of images to the viewer's brain. Afterward one may puzzle over why "The Yip Song" is about cancer, or why exactly Hitchcock dedicates one song to the human-created computers who have taken over the world -- but more often than not recalling those moments will simply produce a bemused smile. Hitchcock is a charming performer, as well as an excellent guitarist. Although his meanings may be opaque, his joy in performing is infectious. This is the quality that Demme captures. On a minimalist set in front of a giant storefront window that often reveals passersby looking in on the ongoing concert, Demme's observant camera captures every sly look from the performer and much of his inspired fretwork. Demme makes sure that Hitchcock is the only thing the audience can pay close attention to, and the performer is engaging enough to more than hold a viewer's interest for the film's brief 77-minute running time. Demme alters the look of the film subtly in order to keep it visually interesting, but it is Hitchcock's style, his words, and his persona that will stay with the viewer.