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Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
"Famliy's important sh*t man."
From the Sundance Film Festival program:
"At 14, Toronto school friends Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, went on to become the "demigods of Canadian metal," releasing one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982's Metal on Metal. The album influenced a musical generation, including Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, that went on to sell millions of records. But Anvil's career took a different path - straight to obscurity.
Director Sacha Gervasi has concocted a wonderful and often hilarious account of Anvil's last-ditch quest for elusive fame and fortune. His ingenious film-making may first lead you to think this a mockumentary, but it isn't. Gervasi joined the legendary heavy-metal band as a roadie for a tour of Canadian hockey arenas, so he has intimate insight into the members' eccentricities. It's fascinating to see the reality of their day-to-day lives as they struggle to make ends meet, take a misguided European tour, and engage in antics on the road - which is not always lined with fans. Gervasi even finds a softer center to this raucous film, introducing us to band members' ever-supportive, but long-suffering, families. At its core, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a timeless tale of survival and the unadulterated passion it takes to follow your dream, year after year. Anvil rocks - it has no other choice."
I saw this film at a special screening the first day of Sundance 2008 and I was blown away. This film is very watchable, even if you have no interest in metal music. It's fun, funny and emotional in a way that when it starts you are thinking "this can't be for real" then by the end it has drawn you in and made you a part of the band's struggle.
Already, I can tell it is going to be one of this year's best.
Chapter 27 (2007)
Ugh.... slow and painful
I saw the Sundance premiere of this film, and I want 2 hours of my life back. The film gives no insight in to the killer, or why he did what he did. Jared Leto put on a ton of weight for this film (he lets you know it by spending too much time in his saggy white underpants, Ugh). Lindsay Lohan's character was nonexistent, so much so that you wonder why she was in the film at all. Besides the character of Chapman, no one else is on screen long enough for you to care or have interest in them and after about 20 min the story doesn't tell us anything new about Chapman's character. The most interesting part of the film is that Mark Chapman (no relation) played John Lennon and having that be the most interesting thing about your film is sad.
Music Music Music Music
This is a wonderful, fun and touching movie. At a screening at Sundance 2007 the director described it as a musical, and it really is. The primary actors are musicians and their songs tie the movie together and tie you to them. Although the primary cast aren't actors as a first profession, they are very natural together and the film flows very well because of it. Everyone involved in this film has a great passion for music, and it is very infectious. It is one of the few films I have seen in 7 years at Sundance that received a standing ovation.
From the Sundance film guide: "A Dublin busker, who ekes out a living playing guitar and repairing vacuum cleaners for his dad's shop, meets a young Czech immigrant who sells roses on the same street. She likes his song, and what's more she has a broken vacuum cleaner! They soon find themselves playing music together in a nearby music store (since she can't afford a piano, the owner lets her play his floor models). Over the course of a week, they form a musical rapport and, newly inspired, decide to record an album.
Once may loosely be classified as a musical, but it has a refreshing vérité inflection. Conceived by director John Carney as a "video album," it sports a scrappy, unembellished naturalism. Carney took a risk in choosing professional musicians over professional actors, but Glen Hansard (of the well-known Irish band the Frames) and Marketa Irglova (a Czech singer/songwriter) are not only remarkably charming together but they're equally adept with the more melancholy shades (Hansard's lonely soul, stuck on an old flame; Irglova struggling to support a mother and daughter). Burdened and brokenhearted, their musical bond is the heart of the film and of their love.
Great music aside, what makes this film special is how little effort it seems to exert. If it's possible to be blindsided by simplicity--a light touch, Once does it." John Nein
War Dance (2007)
I can't leave an unbiased comment on this film as it is so emotional, both happy and sad. I was prepared for it to be heavy, and I felt the film dealt with the hard aspects of children in war in a very even way. It lets the children describe the hardships for themselves, which usually comes across as detached and unemotional, but is more likely overwhelmed and unable to deal with the trauma. One child on the way to the dance competition in Kampala said "I can't wait to see what Peace is like." It was shocking to hear kids so young talk about murder, death, survival and loss so frankly.
I was really sucked in to the excitement and emotion of the dance competition. The kids said "When I dance, I don't think about war." Which is what happened to me in the movie as well. The competition makes it a fun and exciting film you are happy you saw.
Who Killed Cock Robin? (2005)
The story lies in the intersecting lives of three men living in Butte, Montana. Barret Murphy, like the town, has had a rough go of it. He keeps his job and hangs on with the help of his two friends: Charlie, his landlord and makeshift father figure, and his best friend Dylan, raised with privilege and someone who understands Barret politically if not emotionally. Their temporal happy existence is tested, however, when Barret has a run-in with the law.
I was one of the few at Sundance '05 that really liked this movie. As soon as I got what Travis Wilkerson was going for it felt as if I had an epiphany, it wasn't something I came to quickly though. This film is not about getting you from point a to point b and resolving some conflict along the way. It's about creating a feeling and an understanding of a place and a people. I hope to get the chance to see it again, now that I understand more of the director's vision. If you get a chance to see it, pay close attention to the music, which is truly amazing and for the most part written by the actor who sings it.