Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
Isn’t that just one of the best titles for a film ever? Something about it seems so right for a film about an 80s heavy metal band. I’m actually faintly ashamed now to admit that, before I first heard of this film, I’d never actually heard of Anvil. Which really perplexes me, cos the film clearly shows that there is great and genuine love for them among those who have. Who were these people that bands like Metallica and Anthrax and Slayer aspired to be and why had I never heard of them? Most likely answer: astounding bad luck. While the kids they inspired joined major labels and sold millions of records and all that, Anvil, well, didn’t. We first see them playing to thousand of people at a Japanese festival in 1984, then 20 years later vocalist “Lips” is delivering food to catering companies. And yet, whatever went wrong, he and drummer Robb Reiner (obviously not to be confused with the director of This Is Spinal Tap, that other great metal documentary) have faith in themselves and each other. They vowed to pursue the dream, and damned if they’re going to give up just because they’re long past the age where most other bands who’d never made it would’ve quit. That faith sees them through some remarkable shit, from a debacle of a European tour to the difficulties of funding their new album and then recording it without, you know, imploding… to say nothing of how they’ll actually get it out there. It’s a genuinely remarkable tale, told by someone who knew them well back in the day (director Sacha Gervasi having been their roadie in the 80s), and there’s real emotional heft to it, without the gormlessness the subject could’ve entailed; when something does finally go right for them at the film’s end, they’ve earned it. That’s how it differs from Some Kind of Monster (apart from it being half as long as the Metallica film; this is comparatively fat-free and low on self-indulgence): unlike that film, this one is about people who you actually want to see succeed.