Repertory Picks

David Byrne’s Wild Texas Odyssey Heads to Austin

This year’s SXSW Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and one of the lineup’s special repertory events is a presentation of True Stories, David Byrne’s first and only feature film, screening next Wednesday in our own 4K restoration with the director in attendance. Part surreal comedy and part rock musical, the movie transports us to the fictional Virgil, Texas, following an ensemble of tabloid-inspired eccentrics—including John Goodman’s lovelorn technician, Spalding Gray’s civic leader with an unconventional marriage, and Swoosie Kurtz’s woman who’s too lazy to leave her bed—as the town goes all-out in celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding. Byrne, who also appears in the film as the bolo-tie-sporting narrator, shows an especially keen eye for the unique landscape of north central Texas, with Ed Lachman’s resonant photography capturing the seemingly endless expanses of the region. In her liner essay for our edition, Rebecca Bengal explores how the film is “about Texas and about America, too—about freeways and strip malls and shopping malls but also about the peculiar ways human beings seek communal experiences in an increasingly isolating and polarized world, about how we square our understanding of who we were and who we are against the dream of who we want to be.”

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