Sunday, December 27, 2009

True Stories (1986)

David Byrne of the Talking Heads directs this Waking Life-esque weavework about various denizens of a small Texas town. Byrne himself walks around the town as an unidentified narrator interacting with the individuals that he narrates about. The film has a surreal tone, but it is undoubtedly a reflection of how Byrne sees then-modern society in the southwest. He does not hate it as, undoubtedly, many of his coastal contemporaries of the time. He recognizes its peace and admires such inventions as pre-fab homes and metal buildings as simple, beautiful creations.

The lack of a cohesive through-line is what kills this one. The film repeatedly visits John Goodman as a lovelorn "bear," as he calls himself," in his quest to find a good woman to shack up with. However, his whole plot is leading up to a performance he intends to make at the town talent show, which he never does. It is a let down, as Goodman is the sole cohesive element in the film, and the only truly endearing character in the film. The stories and characters scatterred throughout are amusing, and at times, even interesting, but never compelling. There is no doubt that David Byrne is at the machine here, and it never attains the natural Texan charms that Linklater would later achieve with Dazed and Confused or even Slacker. Still, it contains enough insight to warrant obervation by the curious, and its piecemeal style is ideally formatted for a Comedy Central or FX viewing, where you can flip back after an hour and nothing significant has happened.

Slightly recommended, and even then, only on cable. Talking Heads fans should enjoy the bands sporadic appearance in the film, but the music is too far between to warrant recommendation. It is a good background film.

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