Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow Star in Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Yesterday, Geoffrey and I celebrated the first day of really nice NYC weather in over six months by sitting in a dark theater, enjoying the fantastic new documentary, Anvil: The Story of Anvil. You may have heard this film being referred to as a “Real Life Spinal Tap,” but I assure you that the story of this Canadian Metal band that grasped for fame only to fall into obscurity is all too true. A few of the metal drummers I’ve interviewed in my career have cited Anvil drummer Robb Reiner as an influence, so I had heard of them, but only by name.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil tells an unintentionally hilarious and truly emotionally-moving music industry tale that I am sure a gazillion other bands can relate to, yet Anvil imbue this film with so much heart, I can’t imagine any other “almost was” metal band creating an experience quite like the one you get in this film. Back in the ‘80s Anvil were poised to be the next big thing; touring Europe with supporting gigs for Iron Maiden and The Scorpions, and inspiring peer-group fans that included members of now legendary bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Guns ‘N’ Roses. But where those bands continued on to achieve great commercial success and global fame, it didn’t quite work out that way for Anvil. What went wrong? This movie untangles that web.
There is no doubt that the music is strong and these guys are great musicians, and certainly they did not lack anything in the passion-for-what-you-do department. Anvil is both an incredible inspiration and a highly entertaining cautionary tale that I absolutely loved every minute of. Definitely add it to your list of films to see in the theaters before it comes out on DVD in a few months.
Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody and Owen Wilson Star in The Darjeeling Limited
Highway robbery at the ticket window be damned, I see a lot of movies in the theater. That’s probably one of the reasons why I can never seem to accumulate more than a dozen films in my Netflix queue at any one time. Because, you know, by the time anything I would want to see gets released on DVD, I’ve already seen it.
Earlier this week I took myself to see the latest Wes Anderson-directed film, TheDarjeeling Limited, and it was just fantastic. I’ve been a big fan of Anderson’s work since Rushmore, and after hearing great things about The Darjeeling Limited from a couple of friends whose taste in movies I respect and trust, I knew I would love it. And what’s not to love? It’s got a great cast, a great script, beautiful cinematography and – gasp – an at least quasi-original story about the three Whitman brothers, who make a spiritual pilgrimage-slash-site-seeing trip across India – by train! – in an effort to reconnect after their father’s death. No CGI, no Mad Slasher chasing after Teenagers in their Underwear, no gunfight bloodbaths: just a subversively funny, sincerely touching, smartly made film that’s beautifully filmed, written and acted. Wow. Imagine that.
A lot of your average movie-going schmoes will not understand this movie, and will go off on their Myspace blogs about how the plot “goes nowhere.” And to those people, I ask, “What is your problem?” These are the same kinds of whiners who thought Clockwork Orange was “too violent,” or those who were bored by the pacing of Napoleon Dynamite. Jesus god. If your head is too thick to absorb the simple joys of a slightly arty film that isn’t a standard formula Hollywood comedy staring Adam Sandler or (gag) Jim Carrey, do us all a favor and stay home.
And because the obsessive compulsive in me loves to make lists, here is a list of the Top Ten Things I Loved About The Darjeeling Limited
1. Jason Schwartzman as Jack. Schwartzman may be one of the most pedestrian rock drummers since Rikki Rocket (I mean, Phantom Planet – the fact that they completely suck being another matter entirely – was really lucky that Jason quit the band to join the cast of that acclaimed FOX TV sitcom that got cancelled after, like, 6 weeks) but he’s one of the best dry-witted comic actors since Woody Allen. He is completely awesome in this movie.
2. Adrian Brody as Peter. I’m sure he’s always been a very fine actor, but Adrian Brody generally makes films with premises so unappealing (see: The Pianist or The Jacket) that I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a hot poker than be forced to sit through them. So, my bad and everything because not only does he knock it out of the park with his performance as middle brother Peter Whitman but, man, he’s totally hot! Brody has that Ichabod Crane-meets-Howard Stern thing going on that I find just completely swoon worthy. I heart Adrian Brody.
3. Also, I think it was either a brilliant stroke of luck or truly inspired casting to have two actors with charmingly crooked noses (Brody and Owen Wilson) playing brothers. Who thinks of details like that?
4. Putting “This Time Tomorrow” by the Kinks on the soundtrack. Like Martin Scorcese, PT Anderson and Quentin Tarrantino, Wes Anderson is a director who chooses to soundtrack his films with classic rock songs that not only forward the action but also give new life to underappreciated musical gems. In a word: sublime.
5. India. More films need to be shot in India. Americans should be more familiar with the beauty and culture of exotic lands like India beyond what they can see during a season of The Amazing Race.
6. I liked that scene where the brothers try to get their dad’s sports car out of the garage en route to his funeral.
7. Bill Murray appears in a two-minute cameo where he runs after a train and has maybe one line, but every time I see Murray I reminded of how much he rocked in Lost In Translation. Bill Murray on screen is always a pleasure.
8. I liked the drug-swapping scene. I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it yet, so that is all I am going to say. But that scene ruled.