Friday, July 10, 2009

Anvil: The Story of Anvil (Rhoades)

“Anvil!” Rocks as It Chases Success

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My great-grandfather was a blacksmith, a powerful man. They say he could lift an anvil in each hand and clap them together.

Talk about heavy metal.

However, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” – the music documentary playing this week at the Tropic Cinema – is about a different kind of Heavy Metal.

The Canadian group called Anvil was the granddaddy of all Heavy Metal bands. It influenced Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and many others. Appropriately, this film opens with testimonials from some of the biggest bands of all time, Guns n’ Roses to Metallica.

Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow were childhood friends who at 14 vowed to “rock together forever.” Forming a band called Anvil, Robb was lead guitarist and Lips was drummer. They were good.

In the early 80s the boys were rocking. They shared the stage with Jon Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, success almost within their grasp. But it didn’t happened.
Now in their 50s, the members of this legendary heavy-metal band set off to record their 13th album in one last bid for fame.

Director Sacha Gervasi has made a wonderful little film that documents this fleeting attempt to fulfill their boyhood dreams. It’s both poignant and hilarious. You’d think you were watching “Spinal Tap” if you didn’t know it was all for real.

Gervasi’s camera follows them on a disastrous European tour, records their arguments and emotional outbursts. Lips is mercurial, his violent temper followed by lip-quivering apologies. Robb is calm, discomforted by his buddy’s off-the-wall antics. Yet, the two have their dreams in common.

As a prelude to making the film, Gervasi joined the band as a roadie on a tour of Canadian hockey arenas, where he intimately got to know their day-to-day lives, their financial problems, and their ever-supportive families.

“Anvil! The Story of Anvil” is a chronicle of determination, the two musician’s refusal to give up on their dreams. Regarded as “demi-gods of Canadian metal,” they refuse to accept obscurity.
The cinematography is spectacular. Poetic moments: A window with a black cat sitting inside. Flowers growing in a yard. A band member walking through a field with a storm whipping at foliage and waves crashing in the background.

The music is ear-splitting, sounds that inspired a generation of successful musicians. Heavy Metal as it began.

Take this journey with Robb and Lips. You’ll root for them, even if you know it’s a lost cause.
[from Solares Hill]

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