Monday, April 27, 2009

Anvil: The Story of Anvil

Just a quick post to say if Anvil: The Story of Anvil is playing in your town, run out and see it. It’s awesome. In the early 80’s Anvil had 15 minutes of fame thanks to their hit Metal on Metal. It was influential enough to get folks like Lemmy and Slash singing their praises in the film. But ten or eleven poorly produced records later, flailing about with no management, these nice Jewish boys from Toronto continue to soldier on, well into their 50s, still hoping for their next hit. Their rock and roll dream hasn’t died even though their fan-base has atrophied and the industry is not interested in signing a 50-something metal band. The doc follows the band on a dodgy European tour and during the recording of their 13th album, cleverly entitled, This Is Thirteen. The outlook is never rosy, but the band loves playing music and the main members have been buddies since childhood. Anvil is who they are, what they know and what they love. Even if no one else cares, they’re still finding joy in playing shows, be they to 10 people in Prague, 170 people in Transylvania or thousands of people in Japan. And that’s why the film is completely inspiring. No one in the band is drug damaged, schizophrenic, or an egomaniacal boob. The band is charming and they are equal parts hopeless dreamers and down to earth pragmatists. And therein lies the charm.

Apparently the band will be performing during one of the screenings this weekend at the Bridge Theater in SF. If you have the time, check it out.

3 comments:

Jay said...

I’m going to enter a slightly – but only slightly - dissenting view. I admired the guys from Anvil for, as you say, not turning into monomaniacal egomaniac idiots, and I also thought the subject matter was compelling. For the first 30 minutes I was chortling, guffawing and (figuratively) clutching my sides. That said, after an hour I felt the film had pretty much hit every point ad nauseum, and I got tired of Lipps and the drummer’s antics (to say nothing of the music). To watch them bumble around in the studio or practice, then have a fight, any more than once or twice was more than enough.

I could see the narrative arc of this film coming from a mile away, and I was cringing as the band prepared to meet their redemption in front of a screaming audience at the end. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s what happened, because nearly 2 hours into the film, we decided to leave because it was getting so tiresome. I’m glad that you – and just about everyone else – had a different experience (!).

Danny Plotnick said...

Jay, I know you weren't down with this movie. But I thought one of the things this movie had that I haven't seen in other rock docs is the whole notion of an artist struggling with the concept of when to give up the dream. How do you come to terms with working on art when no one seems to care. I thought that was a unique angle. I wonder if the version you saw last year was the final cut. Because this version is pretty short. I don't think it was much more than 90 minutes. But maybe to you it just felt like 2 hours. Who knows.

Jay said...

That's a good point. I bet we saw a version that wasn't fully cut yet. I also agree with you that the film captured the struggling-with-retirement part really well, and it wasn't hard to like these guys. I wonder what it would have been like in what sounds like was the "shortened" version....