Byrne gleaned the inhabitants for his hypothetical small town (Virgil, Texas) from mad American tabloids like the Weekly World News, which trades in stories about Mexicans who can read your nose, illegal immigrants from outer space, and suchlike. As the film's on-screen narrator, he wanders through the streets, homes and shopping malls of Virgil during its sesquicentennial 'celebration of specialness' with an air of quizzical, bemused wonder, and meets as rich and strange a bunch of characters as we've seen since Altman's Nashville. Like Altman's film, True Stories has a handful of brilliant musical set pieces, each in a different musical idiom, from gospel to C & W. It's also heir to Nashville in its multiple, interweaving plots and its plethora of vivid performances, notably from Jo Harvey Allen as the Lying Woman, and (best of all) John Goodman as Louis Fyne, the lonely bachelor with a consistent panda bear shape. And that's not the half of it. True Stories is an unprecedented crossbreed: a rock film with a brain, an 'art' movie with belly laughs, a state of the nation address without boredom.