Anvil: The Story of Anvil – Day Twenty Six – #40movies40days

2009-05-13-anvil-1I finally caught up with fellow UCLA classmate Sacha Gervasi’s documentary about 80’s metal band Anvil.  Anvil: The Story of Anvil is a testament to the human spirit, the passion that drives every creative person and the power of positivity and perseverance.  If you are a struggling writer, artist, filmmaker or musician this film is for you. You will either quit what you are doing in despair or rejoice in the gift of being able to do what you love despite the cost.

The film begins by listing the headlining acts of the Super Rock festival held in Japan in 1984: Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi, all of whom have gone on to sell millions of records, except one, Anvil. Despite their ambition, the Canadian band was unable to achieve the same level of success. Instead, singer and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow drives trucks for Children’s Choice Catering, delivering food to schools and institutions. Drummer Robb Reiner works in construction. But both would rather be playing on stage at the local sports bar to their small but dedicated group of fans, as shown during a show for Steve’s 50th birthday party.
Steve gets an email from a European fan named Tiziana Arrigoni, who offers to set up a European tour for the band, estimating 1500 Euros per show. The tour has a promising start at the Sweden Rock festival, where the group interacts with Michael Schenker and Carmine Appice, but it quickly goes downhill.

The film begins by listing the headlining acts of the 1984 Super Rock festival in Japan: Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi, all of whom have gone on to fame and fortune, except one– Anvil.

Despite their drive, ambition and passion, this hapless Canadian band never caught fire commercially. At age 50, singer and lead guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow drives a delivery truck for Children’s Choice Catering, hauling heavy food cases over snowy drifts to schools. Drummer Robb Reiner works in demolition and construction. The two are childhood best friends.  Their band is still together after 30 years, playing sports bars and area taverns for their small but loyal group of fans.

Early in the film, Lips gets an unexpected email from a European fan, Tiziana Arrigoni, who offers to set up a European tour for the band.  They all quit work for 5 weeks, estimating they will earn 1500 Euros per show. The tour has a promising start at a big Rock festival in Sweden but it all quickly goes downhill.  The band walks away with more expenses than payments.

phpVW6Vr2PMAlong the road they band crosses paths with other metal rockers, who pay homage to Anvil as a seminal influence.  Director Sacha Gervasi was a fan as a teen and even worked for the band as a roadie for several years.  He now returns, after a successful career as a screenwriter, to chronicle their indomitable spirit and dedication to their dream in this wonderful poignant, funny, odd ball film.

The story is told with heart and love and but is unsentimental about financial disaster, second mortgages, homelessness (one band member lost his house) and just plain bad luck.  Put it on your NetFlixs queue.  You won’t regret it!

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