Jump to content

Anvil! The Story of Anvil


Recommended Posts

I found this one of the most surprising and emotionally rewarding films of the year, in how much I liked it. And I'm not a metal fan (at least not since 1990 or so)

A documentary about an obscure early '80s speed metal band. Even though they were known as the demigods of Canadian metal, and were well respected by their peers (Metallica, Slash, Anthrax, Slayer), they never could break through to popularity. Instead, they've spent the last thirty years plugging away, playing in small clubs to dedicated die-hard fans looking for the big break, while working crappy day jobs Then given the opportunity, they go for one last ditch stab at success at a European tour (which turns into a disaster).

A lot of similarities to "Randy the Ram" from The Wrestler, and at first glance, this documentary would seem to be a comedy about a real-life version of Spinal Tap, old rockers who are trying to rock for far too long, where the audience laughs at these pathetic losers. And there are plenty of genuinely funny moments.

But incredibly, the film gets you to root for these guys, and shows one of the most poignant friendships I've seen on screen in a long time. The bandleader Steven "Lips" Kudrow in particular, is a guy prone to emotional outbursts, but he has a goofy charm that makes you like him. And the drummer, Robb Reiner (not that Rob Reiner) is the calm one, who keeps his friend from melting down. The film doesn't portray them as boozing losers; rather, we see them as working men, family men, who take their art seriously in trying to record their latest album to get them one last shot at success. And by the end, the film earns it's emotional payoff.

Edited by Crow
Link to post
Share on other sites

Crow, you're in the D.C. area, no? Is this film even playing here? I keep reading about it online, but somehow missed that it opened here. Was it at Landmark's E St.? The band was there? Dang.

I found this one of the most surprising and emotionally rewarding films of the year, in how much I liked it. And I'm not a metal fan (at least not since 1990 or so)

A documentary about an obscure early '80s speed metal band. Even though they were known as the demigods of Canadian metal, and were well respected by their peers (Metallica, Slash, Anthrax, Slayer), they never could break through to popularity. Instead, they've spent the last thirty years plugging away, playing in small clubs to dedicated die-hard fans looking for the big break, while working crappy day jobs Then given the opportunity, they go for one last ditch stab at success at a European tour (which turns into a disaster).

A lot of similarities to "Randy the Ram" from The Wrestler, and at first glance, this documentary would seem to be a comedy about a real-life version of Spinal Tap, old rockers who are trying to rock for far too long, where the audience laughs at these pathetic losers. And there are plenty of genuinely funny moments.

But incredibly, the film gets you to root for these guys, and shows one of the most poignant friendships I've seen on screen in a long time. The bandleader Steven "Lips" Kudrow in particular, is a guy prone to emotional outbursts, but he has a goofy charm that makes you like him. And the drummer, Robb Reiner (not that Rob Reiner) is the calm one, who keeps his friend from melting down. The film doesn't portray them as boozing losers; rather, we see them as working men, family men, who take their art seriously in trying to record their latest album to get them one last shot at success. And by the end, the film earns it's emotional payoff.

">

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">

And the cool thing at the screening I saw Saturday night, was that the band was there in person. And not only did they give a Q&A, they gave a brief concert right there in the movie theater after the show. And they were pretty good; well, at least as far as speed metal goes. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but Reiner in particular is a darn good drummer. (Although I'm not going to be going back and purchasing any of the band's 13 albums.)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in the St. Louis area, not D.C. So I don't know if and when it's coming to the D.C. area.

At the Q&A though, one of the guys said the film was going to be shown on MTV or VH1 or one of those channels later this year.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw a commercial for this on VH1 awhile back, and it looked fantastic. Thanks for reminding me about it.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites

I absolutely hated almost every moment of this film. I cannot think of a film I have enjoyed less in years. I confess I'm not a metal fan at all, which didn't help. I assumed it was a mock documentary all the way through and was very surprised to discover that it wasn't.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 8 months later...

I remember this being an important metal band when I was more affiliated with this scene some 25 years ago. They were in the same metal magazines and mentioned in the same breath as Judas Priest and The Scorpions. I know this must have been around 1983, because Metallica's "Master of Puppets" album came out, and it pretty much blew everything before it out of the water. When Cliff Burton died, I'm almost certain there was another article in the same magazine on Anvil. I could be wrong about that -- I don't even remember the name of any of those magazines.

I don't know exactly why I had those magazines other than to look for Stryper clipouts to pin up. I'm almost certain I wasn't allowed to listen to this music at that age, and by the time I got old enough to decide for myself, I'd pretty much already lost interest. "Disintegration" blew my mind in 1988 and "Nevermind" and "Ten" sometime in the early 90s. It's actually amazing Metallica even survived all the change in the hard music scene.

We might have to ask one of our music guys to pop around for this question, but it seems to me that this type of music has lately "regenerated," for lack of a better word. When I stopped working with youth three years ago, hair metal was beginning to pick up steam amongst the kids, and it really made me want to hurl. If there is some kind of resurgence in dark or hair metal going on amongst the youth of today, Anvil would actually be in a place to find a newer, younger audience to appreciate their work.

What I'm trying to say is that I think the kids now once again dig this music, but I'm too much of a geezer to know for certain.

I'm in full support of the thought at IMDB that says that all those bands at the beginning of the doc are hypocritical for not taking Anvil on the road, especially for the latest album, "This is Thirteen," which sports a return to their first producer, a guy that really made a great sounding record for them. If Anvil was so influential on their sound and style, the least they could do is give them a break and put them on the road as a warm-up act.

The doc must have done some good for them, though. There is a North American Tour planned, and it starts next week, and judging by the venues on the list, Lips won't have to be chasing down club owners to get paid. Very well known, very good, established and reputable rock venues. Good for them.

I love their ability to stick with their dream, and after seeing the doc, I honestly hope it works out for them. I don't think it will at this point, not to the extent they want it to anyway, but they also should realize that they have indeed lived out the dream. They've been all over the world, they've been able to have a creative outlet for thirty years, they've had the ability to see and experience more than most people will ever get the chance to. That alone is worth all of their frustrated efforts, but it sure doesn't seem that they look at things that way. They have a frustrated glory of sorts, but nonetheless it is still a glory. I hope they eventually see it that way.

But I do understand that it's hard to see it like this when you don't know how you are going to make the next mortgage payment on your house. So it's tough for them to see the good. But most who follow their passion are the folks who live in smaller houses in urban settings. Most learn to accept their lot, and be happy with less of the Almighty Buck in order to keep the passion alive. But it's tough, I can see that.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For the search, director Sacha Gervasi, lead singer "Lips" Kudlow, drummer Robb Reiner (not the "Rob Reiner" that directed Spinal Tap, poor guy, maybe part of the problem is the curse of his name)... Lemmy, Lars Ulrich, Slash.

Oh, and there's a very, very long interview with Sacha Gervasi Here, for anyone interested. I don't know that I'll be able to read it all -- it is very long. Good for a skim though...

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved this film. One of my favorite documentaries of the year.

I remember a bass-player friend loaning me their Metal on Metal album in '82 or '83. Even back then we laughed at the lyrics which were very retarded, even for our middle school minds. I mean, a lot of metal bands had lousy lyrics, but these really sucked. The tunes also had a certain half-cocked quality and lacked the sophistication of the big name bands at the time like Maiden or Priest, and came up short even against rising bands like Merciful Fate. To us at the time, they sounded very amateurish despite possessing some obvious chops. To make matters worse, they were Canadian and they were ugly. Still, you can't help but cheer these guys on.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know if it's worth creating a new thread, but has anyone else watched Heavy Metal in Baghdad? It's about an Iraqi metal band called Acrassicauda (a kind of desert scorpion) that the documentarians profiled shortly before the fall of Saddam. The initial contact is shown in the first half of the film, and in the second half, they return to Iraq during the American occupation to try and reconnect with the band, and to see if they're still alive. The movie works pretty well as a struggling band story, but the parts that were most interesting to me were the viewpoints of everyday, normal Iraqis it shows.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 9 months later...

Heads up for LA area folk:

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL

Special event - one show only, Thursday, November 4, 10 pm

Anvil band members and filmmaker in person for Q&A

Landmark’s Regent Theatre, 1045 Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 281-8223

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to post
Share on other sites

Heads up for LA area folk:

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL

Special event - one show only, Thursday, November 4, 10 pm

Anvil band members and filmmaker in person for Q&A

Landmark’s Regent Theatre, 1045 Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 281-8223

Anyone who hasn't yet seen this and you can get out to this screening, go see it! It is worth it. The story is deeper than it seems and these two guys are the perfect vehicle to deliver it.

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...