Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shopping Is Feeling

True Stories(1986)Directed By David Byrne
"I used to like dinosaurs, I think allot of kids did"-David Byrne David Byrne of the Talking Heads, has made one of the oddest films I have ever seen. It feels like he came up with an idea, and then had to put allot of Talking Heads musical moments into it, to justify it's existence. The songs are plentiful (not the band's best, and a few of their worst), and the routines surrounding them are whimsical and absurd, and at times just terrible (there's a fashion show in the mall, that's pretty great though, recalling Fellini's Roma, a movie I hated, but which this makes more than a few nods). The film is set in a place called Virgil in Texas, a small town having its annual celebration of "Specialness", and follows Byrne(who also stars) as our guide to the town and its eccentric folk. While making the film Byrne collected all the oddest "true stories" he could from newspapers, like Spalding Grey as a man who has not spoken to his wife directly for 15 years, to a woman who has retired early and only wants to stay in bed and watch TV, to John Goodman, who if Byrne is narrator, than he is the closest we come to a main character. Goodman is trying to find a wife, by putting out televised commercials of himself; "I'm 6'3", and maintain a very consistent panda bear shape." It's dated, but very unique and a bit inspired. Rumor has it there are 50 sets of twins in this movie, I tried counting but lost track. It's just one of many strange, deadpan features of this movie, like David Byrne's cowboy hat and voice which never rises above monotone. "What time is it? No time to look back!" Allot of it feels out of place, well actually all of it feels out place, but it would be silly to act like it's oddness was only a detriment, it's also the driving point of interest. Like the fake static backgrounds of Texas landscape during Byrne's driving sequences.
It's a beautifully made film, the cinematographer was a vet, and it's full of musings like "I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The color of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don't notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is." In the end, it's amusing and idiosyncratic portrait of Americana, the weird tale, tall tales, and Byrne's stylings both "Talking Heads" and poetic. Later David Lynch's short film "The Cowboy And The Frenchmen" would seek out similar territory, if not quite same surrealism of a big mouth bass on the wall next to a portrait of dogs playing poker and voodoo alters in the backs of pawn shops, the type on display in the town of Virgil. This is a movie I like to hum along to. "Shopping is feeling"

No comments: