The main reason Jonathan Demme's Oscar-winning 1991 film "The Silence of the Lambs" gets its hooks in you — and leaves you feeling vaguely distracted and discomfited long after it's over — isn't anything Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter says.
And he trusted his actors so thoroughly that he took it one step further: Instead of having them pitch their performances slightly to camera left or camera right — a shot so ubiquitous to basic cinematic infrastructure that it barely registers with viewers — he has Hopkins stare down the barrel of the lens.
In many of the film's more mundane moments — Clarice discussing the case with her friend, back at the FBI — the conversation takes place with alternating close-ups of the actors' faces, gazing out at us flatly, like a challenge.
I'm less familiar with Demme's more recent feature work, or many of his music documentaries, but the film of his I love most, and have seen most often, is his 1984 Talking Heads concert film, "Stop Making Sense." It's a slow build: one by one, various members of the band — led by a gawky David Byrne, captured at Peak Gawk — come out on stage, building from something with a nearly Calvinist austerity to the full-on, sweaty, heedless joy of a tent-revival.
Given the demands of the form, Demme doesn't indulge his fondness for close-ups — this is a concert film, after all, and he is tasked with capturing the interplay between performers, and their gyrating, propulsive, athletic exertions.