This blog has been a great deal of fun and I have tried my best to express my feelings about all the films we have watched so far accurately, but no other film has been more important to do that to me than True Stories. This film is in many ways my perfect film. It’s goofy, it’s quiet, it has good music, and it has a young John Goodman. I’m nervous writing about this film because I can see how easily people would hate it. The problem is I know I’m way too judgmental about what other people think is good so I can see many people criticizing me for liking this. I would not really recommend this for anyone but I feel that if you are a Talking Heads fan, you think Texas-themed stories are interesting, or you have to see everything John Goodman is in like me it’s definitely worth checking out.
The film is directed by David Byrne and takes place in the fictional town of Virgil, TX. The very loose premise is that David Byrne is meeting the average Joes of this town all while the town is getting ready for a town parade and night concert. So really there isn’t much story at all. I think this would be a big problem for most but for some reason it works so well for me. It’s very similar to indie comics, how there so many talented artists that don’t understand how to construct a story. I think Byrne was the same way but the music, scenery, and Goodman’s GOD-given talent make up for it, at least for me. John Goodman’s character is a single guy looking for love, a big theme throughout the film, and in some ways Byrne’s guide to meeting some of the townsfolk. Throughout the film there are Talking Heads songs all off the album True Stories. This ranges from actual Talking Heads music videos to songs performed by the actors themselves. Unfortunately all the songs aren’t incredible but there are definitely enough great ones, especially “Wild Wild Life.”
My favorite section of this movie is when Byrne wanders around a mall with John Goodman observing the townspeople and eventually comes across a mall fashion show. In this scene the song “Dream Operator” is sung by Kay Culver (Annie McEnroe), the fashion show moderator, while this bizarre fashion show runs. I think that really why I love this film; it’s just weird. Another favorite part is a short 30-second scene which shows a couple proclaiming their love, which just ends in a fart joke. I really do love the Talking Heads but I am a huge John Goodman fan and even though this film was made before I was born I would love to have been on the set while it was filmed. If I ever get a time machine this would be one of my first stops.
I was a little nervous about watching True Stories for a few reasons: it’s one of Chris’ favorites, features made by bands can be pretty iffy, and I generally don’t like movies without a real plot, which is what Chris told me True Stories is like. And while there isn’t much of a traditional story arc or plot in True Stories, it certainly wasn’t on the level of this-is-about-nothing as, say, Tree of Life.
While I admittedly found parts of True Stories to be a little boring, it then had scenes like my favorite, in which much of the fictional town of Virgil, Texas goes to a lip-synching club where people take turns lip synching parts of songs, in the scene’s case, The Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life,” which is one of my favorites. It made me wish I could live in a small town in which all the residents knew the lyrics to Talking Heads’ songs.
A youngish John Goodman is also in True Stories, and I loved how genuine he is. John Goodman can play a lot of characters really well, but my favorite is when he plays sweethearts. And the fact that he describes himself on a dating video as maintaining “a consistent panda shape,” made me love him even more.