I’m trying to get everything back into some sort of order (back? Like it ever was) but it seems hopeless. I did a twenty minute idea Pomodoro and easily filled four pages with stuff I need to get done. Even my Netflix is out of control. I have disks hidden under unread books and my queue is so overgrown and unwieldy that when a movie arrives, I stare at it in confused disbelief, wondering why I put it on there in the first place. Still, if it comes, I have to watch it… don’t I? I mean, you can’t just send them back, unseen.
So today, I sat down at my secretary and watched a Netflix disk, Anvil! The Story of Anvil. I have no idea why I requested it, no memory of where I heard of it, but it was good…. very good.
It is a documentary of a heavy metal band, Anvil, formed by two nice Jewish boys from Toronto. They had a tiny taste of some hair band success in the eighties, are cited as an influence on some much more successful bands such as: Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Metallica, but otherwise have been toiling in obscurity (not relative obscurity… but real obscurity) for thirty years since.
Lips, the lead singer, delivers catering packages to small schools, the drummer, Robb Reiner (not Meathead… not the director) appears to work odd construction jobs – the other, less senior band members seem to be homeless people.
Forever the victim of bad breaks and worse management – they take vacation and go on a disastrous five week tour of Europe culminating in a grand concert in Transylvania where 174 people show up at a venue that holds ten thousand. They never get paid for anything. Their dysfunctional tour manager completely wrecks everything up – but back home after the tour they still play at her wedding reception (of course, she married the guitar player).
The movie plays a lot like a real-life Spinal Tap – even to the “Big in Japan” finale. There are some obvious nods to the famous mockumentary – if you look close, there is even an amp that “Goes up to eleven.”
They struggle in futility. Lips says, “One of the main reasons that Anvil hasn’t really gone anywhere is that our albums have sounded like crap.” Robb Reiner shows some talent as a painter. I like his landscapes… but am not a big fan of his study of a German ledge toilet. Lips tries to make an extra buck as a telemarketer at a shady sunglass company run by a fan of the band, but he realizes he is too nice a person to sell crap over the phone.
What makes Anvil! worth watching is the human side. These two guys have stuck it out for thirty years of abject failure in their careers and still are hammering it out. I think the point where you realize the humanity contained in the story is the scene where Lips’ older sister loans them the money to go to England and record their thirteenth album. It’s really their last chance, she knows it’s going to fail (and I’m sure she can’t really spare the cash) but she also knows she has no choice. He may be a loser heavy metal wannabe in his fifties… but he’s still her little brother.