Monday, October 11, 2010

True Stories

True Stories is an American musical film directed by and starring musician David Byrne. It also stars John Goodman and Swoosie Kurtz, and was released in the US, Canada and Sweden in 1986 (with limited release elsewhere the following year).

The film features Byrne as an unnamed, cowboy-hat-wearing stranger who visits the fictional Texas town of Virgil, where he observes the citizens as they prepare for the Celebration of Special-ness, sponsored by the Varicorp Corporation. Byrne breaks the fourth wall many times in the movie while he is narrating in his car.

Among the unique individuals the stranger meets is Louis Fyne, played by John Goodman (in one of his first major film roles) - a Country-Western-singing clean room technician at a local computer manufacturing plant who is unlucky in love. He also encounters: town leader Earl Culver (played by performance artist Spalding Gray), who never speaks directly to his wife; Miss Rollings (Swoosie Kurtz), who never leaves her bed; Mr. Tucker (Pops Staples of The Staple Singers), a voodoo practitioner whom Louis hires to help him find love; a conspiracy theorist preacher (John Ingle) whose shtick owes a great deal to the Church of the SubGenius (in real life, Byrne is a SubGenius himself); Ramon (played by musician Tito Larriva), who claims telepathic powers; and a character billed only as "The Lying Woman" (Jo Harvey Allen), who recounts fantastic episodes from her history to anyone present. Renowned Latin music legend Esteban "Steve" Jordan and his conjunto perform the song, Radio Head in the film as well.

The movie was not a commercial success at the time of its release, and it received a mixed reaction from critics (though some, such as Roger Ebert, delivered glowing reviews). The film has achieved its greatest success in home video release, as a cult classic among fans of Byrne's work.

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