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True Stories

David Byrne , John Goodman , David Byrne    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Truly quirky, this mock documentary is part musical, part farce, and completely, oddly innocent. This is a one-man-band job for David Byrne (lead singer of the Talking Heads), who writes, stars, and directs, It's ostensibly about the sesquicentennial celebration of a small Texas town, but it's really about strange characters and strange attitudes. Byrne is our guide, driving us around and giving tour information about Texas in an innocuous patter, frequently running into Louis Fyne (John Goodman), a lonely man looking for love. At various times, and with little provocation, the film swoons into a Talking Heads number with preachers and bar patrons belting out tunes. If you make room for it, however, True Stories can surprise and delight with its inventiveness and its unconventional treatment of the residents. A scene in which a construction worker launches into an aria, on a makeshift stage when no one else is around, is but one example of numerous such moments in this bizarre, delightful, and benign film. Any Talking Heads fan who doesn't own it should. --Keith Simanton

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True Stories

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of the 20th century Jan. 18 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Masterfully spanning the divide between satire and celebration, True Stories allows us to see the ordinary as special and specialness as ridiculous, and ridiculousness as ordinary. It forces even the most cynical subGenius to once again like things. What a relief!
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By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
I have always loved True Stories, but it's not for everyone. This is one ingenious but quirky movie that plays on multiple levels all at the same time. The box cover describes True Stories as "a completely cool, multi-purpose movie," and that's about as good a description as there can be for a film almost impossible to describe. The film takes the form of a documentary of the sesquicentennial celebration in Virgil, Texas, with Talking Heads front man David Byrne cruising into town in his red convertible to narrate the events. Byrne is, in my opinion, an underappreciated genius, and what he managed to do here was to capture a wonderful slice of Americana. Virgil isn't a small town, but it has a small town feel, surrounded by flat land as far as the eye can see - land destined to be developed in the coming years. The townspeople are the true stars of the film, though; most of them are not even given names, and I think this is because they are not so much individuals as representatives of everyday men and women. You have, for example, the Laziest Woman on Earth (Swoosie Kurtz), who has not gotten out of bed for years and years, the Cute Woman, and the Lying Woman (Jo Harvey Allen) - who continually steals the show with some of the most outrageous comments you've ever heard. The silent masses are just regular people going about their regular lives, most of them the opposite of glamorous, just the kind of folks you probably see in your own local shopping malls. The only difference is that here, thanks to David Byrne, you notice these people - and I think that is very important. When these people get up and lip synch to a song like Wild Wild Life, it doesn't matter how weird they are - they are just having fun being themselves. Read more ›
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By My Twin
Who would have thought that Byrne and the Talking Heads would make such a sweet movie? It's a satire, of course, but the characters, rather than being ridiculed, are adorable. The perfect casting and relaxed pace give it just the right documentary feel, Byrne's reedy narration gives it just the right edge, and the story line plays out nicely. It's very watchable.
Listenable, too. The songs are a blast, whether lip-synched by the 'locals' hilariously or sung by the cast. The Talking Heads as the backing band for the songs are terrific, with some gorgeous pedal steel guitar thrown in.
For Spalding Gray fans, it is a classic performance, if brief.
Worth buying, even though it's not widescreen and has no special features, because you will play it again and again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny absurdist view of American life April 27 2004
I saw this movie in the theater while living in Germany in 1986-87, and recall it as a sort of pseudo-documentary of life in America mixed with some Salvador Dali-esque fantasy scenes. The funny thing was, the Germans couldn't tell the fantasy from the reality. They thought the Shriners riding their little motorbikes around in a parade was something out of David Byrne's imagination!
It recalled to me a line from Allen Ginsberg to the effect of "America, I love you like I love my crazy uncle who sits in the corner, drooling and eating flies."
If you appreciate bonafide American craziness, such as the First Church of Elvis, Mount Rushmore, or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, you will get a kick out of this movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Deep in the heart of Irony April 26 2004
Talking Heads frontman David Byrne follows trailblazer Kinky Friedman (the original New Yawk musician/raconteur to enter the Lone Star state of mind) with this subtly satirical Texas travelogue from 1986. It is no easy task to pigeonhole "True Stories"- part social satire, part long-form music video, part mockumentary. Fans of droll humor (and Byrne's art-school sensibilities) will enjoy the film. The episodic vignettes about the quirky but generally likable inhabitants of sleepy Virgil, Texas should hold your fascination once you buy into "tour-guide" Byrne's bemused anthropological detachment (some might say, "conceit", but there is no detectable mean-spiritedness here). The pseudo-documentary approach and low-ley ensemble performances presages (by a good 10-15 years) the gently satirical "mockumentaries" Christopher Guest & Co. have become so synonymous with. The excellent cinematography seems to get overlooked by reviewers and is worth a mention. The DVD transfer is not as dismal as some would lead you to believe, although I would agree that it is a shame that "pan and scan" is the only format currently offered (but for such a low list price, there is not much room for complaint). The audio is quite adequate. Fans of the obscure and offbeat will rejoice.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie; Horrible DVD April 24 2004
By Android
THIS REVIEW IS IN NO WAY a review of the movie, which is unique and fairly unmatched, and has set some artistic standards.
Excuse me, but wasn't the brilliance of this movie at least worth.. well... a WIDESCREEN inclusion?
Come on.
Formatted to fit-your-tv only.
No extra features, no insights, no commentary, and TWO - get this - TWO menu selections - either to select a scene, or simply play the movie.
Warner Brothers went family-style cheap on this disc and it is a travesty to assume people with a DVD player just want a VHS-level rendition of an art film.
Don't buy this - wait until a version comes out that shows evidence someone has given this incredible movie some respect.
BLAH. Disappointing.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting scenes, but difficult taken as a whole.
When I received this DVD as a gift, I tried very hard to watch, after seeing the glowing reviews written by some of the people here. Read more
Published on March 6 2004 by FloydWaters
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Quirky, Unique, Entertaining Film
I loved this movie when it came out and I still do. At this point, it's almost a document of its time, when the punk/new wave explosion of the late 70's & early 80's had... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The strangest (and the funniest) movie I've ever seen.
David Byrne is funny in this movie. I was laughing so hard seeing Louis Fyne (John Goodman) singing a country song about needing someone to love. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Oozes hipness
After seeing this film, I plunged into a deep and unweilding crush on David Bryne. If you have a quirky sense of humor that appreciates the hilarity of American life, if you love... Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by Pam Cash
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird and Wonderful World of Virgil
This is the most bizarre film I have ever seen. It shows exactly what it is like in a small town--the mall, the parade, the talent show and especially the people. Read more
Published on June 7 2003 by Duane Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars David Byrne is an alien
How else do you explain his tour of Virgil and its denizens? Done with such affection, trying so hard to fit in. Read more
Published on April 21 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars personal keystone
as a writer and filmmaker, seeing this film for the first time when i was 13 changed everything for me. Read more
Published on April 12 2003 by Rob Christopher
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