Wednesday, 10 November 2010
David Byrne double: 'True Stories' and 'Ride, Rise, Roar'
Former Talking Heads front man, solo musician, film maker and artist David Byrne features in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image's First Look series this January by way of his directorial debut True Stories (1986) and new music documentary Ride, Rise, Roar (2010), which offers an intimate view of the creative process of an artist who has been invigorating audiences for over thirty years.
David Byrne features in First Look this January
Confirms ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson; "David Byrne's inventiveness as an artist continually astounds. His presence as a performer is exhilarating and getting to see him in full flight on the big screen is a real treat not to be missed."
For Byrne's first film expedition he directed and co-wrote True Stories (1986), an obscure musical comedy which, viewed retrospectively, was ahead of its time.
True Stories plays as a hugely entertaining critique on Reagan's America, in all its consumer glory. A Stetson-clad Byrne acts as host/narrator on a journey through Virgil, Texas - a town that has replaced downtown stores with shopping malls and is embracing the wonders of computer technology (including predicting the use of computers for dating)!
Virgil is about to embark on a "Celebration of Specialness" and we are acquainted with the townspeople in the lead-up to a concert as part of the local festivities. Viewed through the hyper-real lens of legendary cinematographer, Ed Lachman (Erin Brockovich, Far From Heaven, I'm Not There, Howl), Virgil's enchantingly odd citizens (based on stories found in supermarket tabloids) include a woman who won't leave her bed; a pathological liar (who penned 'Billy Jean' and dated Burt Reynolds); and a cowboy bachelor looking for wedded bliss played by John Goodman.
Littered with musical numbers, the cast perform most of the songs written for the film by Talking Heads. The group released the tracks on a record of the same name later that year - not to be confused for the unreleased cast recording.
The following week ACMI screens Ride, Rise, Roar (2010) which premiered at the SXSW Festival earlier this year.
The film documents the conception-to-realisation of the North American tour for Byrne's latest album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, co-penned by Byrne's longtime collaborator, Brian Eno.
Shot throughout 2008 and 2009, director David Hillman-Curtis is flush with material for his feature film debut. By incorporating the full gamut of the creative process - from the intimacy between Byrne and band, behind-the-scenes footage of auditions and rehearsals with the cast of musicians, dancers and choreographers, as well as interviews with key players - we get an insight into Byrne's creative partnerships, an understanding of what drives him and why he holds the accolades he does today.
The film is packed with footage of exhilarating live concert performances from the tour and we watch Byrne stretch the boundaries of rock 'n' roll performance as his vision comes to life on stage.
Byrne co-founded the group Talking Heads (1976 - 88) in New York. On record and in concert, the band was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and they have since proven to be extremely influential. Talking Heads took popular music in new directions, both in terms of sound and lyrics (with hits such as Psycho Killer, Take Me to the River, Burning Down the House and Road to Nowhere) and also introduced an innovative visual approach to the genre, recognised by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when inducted in 2002. Since Talking Heads however, Byrne has released numerous solo albums to critical acclaim and substantially diversified his musical output collaborating with artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Fatboy Slim and Paul van Dyk as well as creating orchestral compositions and opera arias. He has continued his work in film and theatre, both in performce and behind the scenes, as well as exhibiting as an artist and photographer and has published several books. Byrne was immortalised in animation when he voiced himself in an episode of The Simpsons in 2003. In 2010 he contributed songs to the soundtrack of the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
True Stories and Ride, Rise, Roar will screen at ACMI throughout January as part of ACMI's First Look program. For more information: http://www.acmi.net.au/first_look.aspx
Praise for True Stories:
The "most joyous and inventive rock movie-musical since The Beatles Help!" Time Magazine
"True Stories is a pure and jubilant extension of Mr. Byrne's distinctive world view" The New York Times
Praise for Ride, Rise Roar:
"A visceral experience.packs a kinetic punch" The Hollywood Reporter
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