Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”

I have to admit that my knowledge of heavy metal is limited. So I hope you’ll forgive me for thinking that “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” was a “This is Spinal Tap” ripoff. Everything about it felt like a rock and rock cliché. From the album covers (each featuring an anvil), the names of the band members, Lipps and Robb Reiner, (How could you not think his name is a tip of the hat to “Spinal Tap’s” director, Rob Reiner?) to the seemingly improbable streak of bad luck on their European tour. But after a quick search, it turns out that Anvil is (or rather was) the real deal. And that changed my whole perception of the movie. While it was enjoyable from the beginning, once I knew Anvil was started by a couple of 14-year-olds in the 1970s and influenced such monsters in metal as Anthrax and Metallica, only to have their dreams evaporate, the story takes on a certain poignancy. It’s now 30 years later and Lipps, the front man and driving force behind Anvil, is working at an industrial catering company, delivering food to schools. He has hope against hope that if Anvil plays that one great concert, produces that one great album, that the band can recapture its former glory. He, Robb and the rest of Anvil take off on a European concert tour, which is an unmitigated disaster. They’re playing to tiny audiences in obscure venues, traveling in what seems like steerage, and having to fight to get paid for performing. They return home, down but not out, and at their own expense, cut their 13th album (what Lipps and Rob believe is their best ever), shop it around and get courteous “no thank yous.” Throughout the entire ordeal, Lipps remains a true believer. And after seeing his hopes dashed throughout the film, it ends with Anvil playing a concert in Japan. Which make him (and me) believe that there’s hope after all. My Tweet: Anvil! The Story of Anvil-Documentary about the nearly famous and now obscure metal band should’ve been titled “All You Need is Luck.” 7.5 (out of 10)

Anvil! The Story of Anvil”

Released: 2008

Rating: NR

Length: 90 minutes

Cast: Steve "Lips" Kudlow, Robb Reiner, Malcolm Dome, Lars Ulrich, Scott Ian, Lemmy, Slash

Director: Sacha Gervasi

Genre(s): Documentary, Music

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Netflix’s liner notes for “Priceless” call it a “wacky French farce.” I didn’t find it particularly wacky. And while it does have it farcical moments, it’s a really a romantic comedy – a pretty charming one at that. Part of its charm has to do with its set up. Irene (Audrey Tautou) is a gold digger plying her trade on the French Riviera, trying to land the big fish. One night Irene mistakenly assumes that Jean (Gad Elmaleh), the hotel’s bartender, is a rich playboy. It’s only after her behavior toward Jean causes her current relationship to fall apart that she discovers the truth. That forces her to go back on the hunt. But Jean, hopelessly smitten, follows. Once she drains his bank account with her expensive tastes, Jean succumbs to an older woman advances and becomes her gigolo. And pretty soon, the two of them are comparing notes and falling for each other. It’s all in good fun, with a great setting and an appealing cast. My rating: 7 (out of 10)


Released: 2006

Rating: R

Length: 104 minutes

Cast: Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Vernon Dobtcheff, Marie-Christine Adam

Director: Pierre Salvadori

Genre(s): Romantic Comedy, Foreign

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“Michael Jackson’s This Is It“

My Tweet: Michael Jackson’s This Is It-That was it? 5 (out of 10) This behind-the-scenes documentary was an attempt for the leeches in Michael Jackson’s life to cash in shortly after his death. I found the whole affair rather sad. You see a lot of the moves you’ve seen before, hear a lot of the songs you’ve heard before. Jackson looks emaciated. In the few close-ups that there are (especially the ones in the classic movie scenes he’s spliced into), his face is rendered almost featureless and expressionless, like a kabuki mask. There are plenty of videos out there in the archives that show him as a youthful, promising and truly innovative performer. Michael Jackson’s This is it” just made me long for what once was and what should have been.

Michael Jacksons This Is It

Released: 2009

Rating: PG

Length: 112 minutes

Cast: Michael Jackson, Nick Bass, Daniel Celebre, Mekia Cox, Misha Hamilton

Director: Kenny Ortega

Genre(s): Documentary, Music