Amish Fury

We’re mostly in the house at this point. And although a few choice pieces of media are still missing (two Monty Python DVDs, a copy of the Japanese horror film Audition, and one of my beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000 videos), I’m confident they’ll turn up by the time the last box is unpacked.

In between the unpacking of boxes, I found time to check out a couple of documentaries this week.

The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Movie
8/10

As someone who fancies himself a bit of a rock-and-roll historian, I’m rather embarrassed by how little attention I’ve paid to the Sex Pistols and the whole “punk” movement over the years. Rescuing me from my ignorance is Julien Temple’s excellent documentary The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Movie, which, despite the name, is not only a great overview of the most famously self-destructive band of all-time, but a good primer on the origination of punk culture in the UK as well.

It’s rare to see a documentary directed with something approaching visual style, but Temple does a great job of avoiding the usual “talking head” format all too common in these sorts of films. Some contemporary interviews with the surviving band members, shot entirely in silhouette, reveal much about the music and the punk mindset, while stillkeeping the Pistols themselves suitably mysterious. Interesting subject matter, innovative presentation.

and

The Devil’s Playground
7/10

You may think you know the Amish, but this interesting documentary from Lucy Walker will likely convince you otherwise.

When Amish teens turn 16, they are given free reign to leave their communities and explore the outside world — the world of mainstream America, overflowing with sin and decadence. After a certain period of time, ranging from several weeks to several years depending on the person in question, these teens must decide whether to abandon their Amish upbringing and remain among the “English” (as they call all non-Amish); or forever return to their former life, with no further interaction with the larger world outside.

This documentary follows a group of Amish teens as they struggle with this choice, torn between two conflicting ways of life. Virtually all of them speak with equal parts warmth and resentment about their strict religious upbringing, and several swear like sailors. Many have become enamored with the vices of mainstream culture, including smoking, drinking, wild parties, and, in one tragic case, crystal meth addiction. Some desperately want to return to their traditional way of life, but fear they won’t be able to live without the cars, video games, and technology to which they’ve become accustomed. There’s soul-searching aplenty, rest assured.

Although the documentary is lacking in the audio/visual department, the subject matter remains gripping the whole way through.

-CSJ

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