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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)
Price: CDN$ 42.30
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Product Description

True Stories


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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Most helpful customer reviews
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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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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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. Unfortunately, while I found certain scenes extremely funny, I just could not get into the movie *as a whole*, and I finally just lost patience halfway through and had to turn it off. The trouble was, I felt like there were far too many extraneous shots, or lines that just came out of nowhere. And, if I may be blunt, I didn't care for some of the renditions of the Talking Heads' songs. I like this band, I really do--the trouble is, I don't like the way the songs came off *in this movie*. I also admit I'd hoped to hear some from Remain in Light and Speaking in Tongues, which are my two favorite albums of theirs by far.
As I said, there were good points. David Byrne himself is definitely the most prominent one...as others have said, his commentary is quite funny to listen to, and I get a kick out of the intent expression on his face as he delivers these strange remarks. Also, certain scenes were very funny--the one that makes fun of all those 80s music videos was spot on, and just about had me rolling on the floor laughing! The woman who never got out of bed also had me laughing hysterically. And, you have to admit there's a certain truth to the dating-by-computer mishaps...it's just amazing that even so far back it would occur to David Byrne to portray this.
Unfortunately, half of the movie (such as that ridiculous fashion show) simply had me raising an eyebrow and returning a stare as blank as Byrne's could be sometimes. I simply could not enjoy this experience as a whole, and while I cannot give it a 1-star review due to its good points, this is something I will definitely not be seeing again...better to sell it back and get myself something else.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Quirky, Unique, Entertaining Film Feb. 23 2004
By A Customer
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 successfully filtered throghout the culture and people like David Byrne were given the respect they deserved and the result was films like True Stories. Using bizarre stories he'd read in supermarket tabloids as his base, Byrne took the kooks and special people he'd read about and placed them all in one small Texas town. A tribute to individualism and self-invention, True Stories also successfully evokes the weird, rootless, surrealism one encounters once you get outside the bounds of congested cities and finds oneself stuck out in the middle of nowheresville, USA. Featuring a great cast who all give wonderful performances, even if they sometimes don't seem to "get" what Byrne was doing, Stories also boasts an excellent Byrne composed score, which at the time of the films release could be purchased in two versions - one where the cast performed their own songs and another where Talking Heads performed them. True Stories also probably marks the demise of the band, Talking Heads. Though they went on to record a couple more records (three more? I can't really remember), after True Stories it seemed they were no longer so much a band as slaves to Byrne's vision. As a tribute to the band, one he was on his own, Byrne's work lost a certain humanity, I guess you could say, an urgency or immediacy and his work took on the air of just more "art product". I still like it, mind you, just not as much. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of the 20th century
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. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Aron Rosenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent casting of David Byrne/Spalding Gray fantasy
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. Read more
Published on June 2 2004 by My Twin
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny absurdist view of American life
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... Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by E. Folta
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie; Horrible DVD
THIS REVIEW IS IN NO WAY a review of the movie, which is unique and fairly unmatched, and has set some artistic standards. Read more
Published on April 24 2004 by Android
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. 13 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 20 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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