True Stories, co-written by a Justin F. Kimball High School graduate and directed by and starring a Talking Head, ranks high on the list of Greatest Dallas Movies Ever Made -- alongside, oh, Bottle Rocket and RoboCop and, sure, let's be generous, the Ann-Margret redo of State Fair in '62. It's certainly the only film in which NorthPark Center is as much character as setting -- the sterile, serene mall-as-town-square where "shopping itself has become the activity that brings people together ... music's always playing [and] it's no time to look back," says David Byrne's narrator as he strolls through Ray Nasher's retail center.
Shot throughout North Texas in 1985, in McKinney and Waxahachie and points in between, and released the following year, True Stories is "a strangely overlooked film that proved eerily prescient about the region's development from rural prairie to forward-looking technology hub," University of Texas at Dallas professor Mark Rosen wrote in this newspaper last year. Upon the occasion of its bulked-up Criterion Collection release, Rosen noted, too, that it's "a quasi-documentary of North Texas in the '80s."
Which might be why I adore it so. Almost as much as Stephen Tobolowsky's 2011 podcast in which he talks about how the movie, which he co-wrote with Beth Henley, came to be.
And now I can watch it with David Byrne. So can you.
The USA Film Festival sends word today that Byrne will return to Virgil, Texas, for a screening of True Stories at the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station on March 14. After the film, director Kim Hendrickson -- who did the making-of doc on the new Blu-Ray release -- will conduct an onstage chat with Byrne.
Byrne has several ties to Dallas -- from his sojourns here making robots with David Henson to his collaboration with former Lake Highlander St. Vincent to his longstanding friendship with saxman Johnny Reno. And no one has done a better job of writing about the High Five that connects LBJ Freeway and N. Central Expressway:
"After about twenty miles, I turned north on Highway 75 on what might be the mightiest and most awe-inspiring interchange I've ever seen. At least five levels of roads are stacked up, all swooping over, under and around each other as if in some mighty concrete mating dance. It's a truly incredible work, graceful, and of a scale so large that it is impossible to see the whole thing from any one vantage point.
When driving on the upper levels, you are almost completely unaware that you are arcing and swooping and curving in a ballet with all the other vehicles exiting and merging down below. You simply see the curve of the road ahead, and some signs alerting you of approaching merging lanes and future exits."
But let's be honest: It's about time Byrne return to Texas to tell tall tales about True Stories.
"We are so pleased to welcome David Byrne back to Dallas for this special screening," USA Film Festival managing director Ann Alexander said in the announcement. "Byrne's blithe, freespirited film -- with its artful appreciation of the unconventional and eccentric nature of Texas and Texans -- remains a great favorite with audiences of all ages."
Tickets are on sale now. Go here. And they're quite the bargain: It's $25 for the event, but for just a few dollars more you get the Criterion Blu-ray, which, for the first time, comes with the complete soundtrack.
I guess True Stories is having its moment, at least locally: It will also screen Friday night at the Angelika as part of the Dallas VideoFest.