Sure, they’re celebrated musicians, but what they really want to do is direct.
True Stories (1986)
With St. Vincent soon to make her directing debut, what are the odds she turns to her hero/collaborator David Byrne for a little advice? The Talking Heads frontman’s own foray into filmmaking is a surreal slide show of eccentric Americana filtered through his peculiar rhythmic sensibility. Decked out in a cowboy hat and suit, Byrne plays our tour guide as a kind of cheerful alien come to Earth to observe the inhabitants of Virgil, Texas, where he cruises around in a convertible and marvels at the local oddballs, manufacturing plants and blissful malls. Despite boasting a hit with the band’s ‘Wild Wild Life’ – and the joy of a pre-Roseanne John Goodman as a country-and-western signin’ factory schlub – Byrne’s lone directing effort was perhaps too strange (or too great) to connect with a big audience.
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, better known as Daft Punk, spent their downtime between records crafting this weird and wonderful road trip. The film stars two robots (no, really!) on a quest to become real live boys, which leads them across a California desert – in the world’s coolest Ferrari coupe – and to a creepy-quaint all-robot town, where our heroes undergo surely the most bizarre plastic surgery procedure ever put on film. But oh, the woe of being human! A heartbreaking, hallucinatory ride ensues, set to a vintage soul soundtrack that dares you not to shed a tear for their rusty existential plight.
Under The Cherry Moon (1986)
Dearly beloved Prince (sob!) followed his electrifying performance in Purple Rain by assuming directing duties on this idiosyncratic follow up, which sees his Royal Badness playing an impish, lace-and-eyeliner-clad gigolo out to swindle rich ladies in the gorgeous black-and-white Mediterranean. Equal parts screwy goofball caper and camp musical melodrama, it makes no apologies for its exuberant genre hopping, with Prince’s camera swooning over its star like a silent movie actress – he’s the one performer, bless, for whom ‘vanity project’ is actually a compliment. Roundly dismissed at the time by critics who obviously had really boring taste, it’s the funky film B-side to his more famous stadium hit, and features one of his very best soundtracks in Parade. Game, blouses.
from the May issue of Yen. Online here.