Friday, October 23, 2009

DVD: Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009)

It’s not just one of the best titles of the year. This documentary is also one of the best movies.

The Canadian band Anvil is a pioneer in heavy metal music. Guys from Anthrax, Guns N’ Roses and Motörhead attest to their unassailable awesomeness. The movie opens with rare footage from an epic 1984 Japanese metal fest featuring Anvil’s lead singer Lips wearing a bondage harness and playing the ax with what ‘70s game shows used to call a marital aid.

Many of the acts on that bill went on to achieve success. Not Anvil. A series of bad breaks kept them in the minor leagues, famous only to other musicians and a small circle of fans. But the band keeps rocking. Sacha Gervasi, a screenwriter who was an Anvil roadie in their brief ‘80s heyday, picks up their story as they set aside their day jobs to embark on an extended European tour organized by their guitarist’s girlfriend and then record their thirteenth album.

It’s a real-life Spinal Tap crossed with The Wrestler, following men in their fifties who won’t give up on their dream even in the face of age and common sense. It’s about family, friendship, and the power of belonging to a community. I may have teared up once or twice, but I was banging my head so nobody noticed.