Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon Stephen C. Mitchell

Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon Stephen C. Mitchell
For long-time fans of Kings of Leon, Talihina Sky does what their fifth album, last year's Come Around Sundown, failed to: bring the Oklahoma quartet back to their Southern U.S. roots. The film follows the Followills (brothers Jared, Caleb and Nathan, and cousin Matthew) back to Talihina, Oklahoma for a family reunion. Introducing their extended family, including grandpa Leon (from whom they took their name), the film builds a pretty vivid picture of their rigid and insular Pentecostal upbringing. Their rise to fame is told via interviews with band and family members (the lines are frequently blurred) and through archival footage – the clip of Nathan and Caleb singing hymns on television is particularly priceless. Their tales of drinking moonshine and fornicating with distant cousins paint the family as honest-to-God hillbillies and, at times, makes it difficult to take their lives seriously. Far more touching is the interview with their father, a preacher who led a double life that eventually tore the family apart and played a big part in steering son Caleb away from becoming a preacher himself. Director Stephen C. Mitchell, a friend of the group, does a great job of painting a portrait of the band's childhood, but leaves a massive gap in the story, specifically: how did these God-fearing children make the transition from religion to rock'n'roll? It's hinted at but never really explained. Similarly, the story of their rise to fame leaves out the long-running disparity in popularity between Europe and the U.S., which only embraced these good-ole-boys after they transformed themselves into U2-esque stadium rockers. Deleted scenes and home movies are included, as are two separate commentary tracks, one with director Mitchell, Nathan and Caleb, and the other with producer Casey McGrath, Jared and Matthew, which are really more of a chance for the guys to get together and goof on each other rather than provide insightful info. Still, it's fun to listen to band members at their most off-the-cuff. Despite some omissions, Talihina Sky is a unique film that reminds us why we fell in love with Kings of Leon in the first place. (RCA)