Rock Docs

film 5 of 5

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Film Review by Dean Duncan Apr 17, 2014

That is a very funny title. This band biography is also a real cut above the run-of-the-mill rock doc. One reason is that the subject is fresh, and the film is entertaining. These guys and this band are obscure, and kind of ridiculous, and there are laughs a-plenty. Another reason is that the over-familiar behind-the-music exposition and trajectory is mostly replaced by observational and interactive techniques. We get the chronology and the outlandish photos, but the band isn’t just treated like a cliché, or a platitude, or a product of the Star-Off Machine. This is an actual documentary, a record of a reality and a process and lots of other things besides. More importantly, there are glimpses, of diversities and the immigrant experience, of how musicians are really just trying to make a living, of a lot of substantial, quietly Canadian things.

Finally, most importantly of all, this film is brim-full of charity and decency, both in the relations between its subjects and in the way the filmmakers regard those subjects. Critics may laugh about the way these guys argue. They might attend more to the way they make up. “Lips” Kudlow is a goofball, but he’s also a sweet-natured soul, an Israelite (Ontario Jew, anyway) without guile. The part where his loving sister lovingly hands over that money is tremendously moving. Isn’t this how we should treat and love our sinners? And who are we to judge, anyway? The sinning is irrelevant, disappearing as it does beneath all of this Chekhovian mercy. Here’s what God thinks of heavy metal, and of heavy metal musicians.