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secretly Christian: Talihina Sky

I recently caught big chunks of the Showtime documentary Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon, and I find the whole thing fascinating.

Some swearing, some brief nudity, some drug use. And that’s just the trailer.

If you don’t already know, Kings of Leon are a rock band from Oklahoma; three brothers and a cousin, all named Followill [link]. The three brothers are sons of former United Pentecostal Church preacher Ivan Leon Followill, whose use of alcohol ended his ministry and his marriage, and brought at least one of the brothers to a crisis of faith while at the same time providing an opening for the brothers to leave the church music circuit for the secular music industry.

The documentary combines archival footage from home movies, stock footage, interviews, and concert footage. There is no third-party narrator; all the voiceovers are from extended interviews, especially with Betty Ann Followill, their mother. This means there’s nobody to translate any Pentecostal Christianese, and there’s a fair amount of it. I’d almost argue that you have to understand Betty Ann’s argot to make sense of what you’re seeing; without it much of the movie comes off as stock portrayal of ignorant hillfolk. I suspect that’s why some of the crucial scenes are intercut with stock footage of snake-handlers and holy rollers.

Anyway, I found the film fascinating, but I’m willing to admit it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Joe Bob says check it out.


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