05.28.09

I keep thinking about Woody Allen’s Manhattan as I have been given a key to a posh SoHo apartment for a few days and have found little to occupy myself except walking to record stores and sitting in the park. I feel a generation of people have also been fooled by Annie Hall. If you are like me, you imagine New Yorkers endlessly sitting around cafes arguing about Met exhibition waiting for their friend’s independent films to premier at movie theaters around the corner. New York really brings out the idea I have that I’m possibly one of the most boring people in the world. I actually had to stop myself from eating at Subway this afternoon, although record store prices dictate that I should be eating out of the garbage can.

As if I had just walked out of a Lou Reed lyric,  I went to the movies one afternoon and saw 

Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2009) 

I was pretty sure there was no need to rush to see this movie because of all the good reviews. I don’t have an attitude about good reviews, but generally when things are popular regarding the subject of heavy metal, I generally picture a bunch of white liberals mechanically throwing up their index and pinky fingers in the air knowing full well that regardless of whether or not this gesture is meant at any given moment to be sincere or ironic, they are covered. I’m not a big fan of the metal scene. As much as I love heavy metal, the scene is generally pretty conformist and negative to change. It was not that long ago I was at a metal show and overheard the phrase “nigger beats.” But it goes without saying, worse than the metal scene are those who feel it is there solely to justify an after work whoop or tongue flick. 

But on the subject of the movie, it really is great. I’m not going to bore you with another account of how the band rose a little and fell and I’m not going to entice you with the “surprise” ending that really was not as big a surprise as it is being made out to be, but it really is the perfect balance of exposition and genuine emotion. Never once did I feel that the band were acting for the cameras and I’m sure a large part of the credit goes to Sacha Gervasi who is a fan close to the subject matter and seems to have kept his name at bay maximizing the band’s glory. Gervasi has created an amazing narrative that tells not only the story of a Canadian heavy metal band, but has outlined the story of anyone who has ever tried to be creative and gone unnoticed. A section towards the end of the movie shows Anvil exploring their record label options and exemplifies a clear microcosm of how there is little interest in artist development. This section of the film is posed with a relative talking about how Anvil has been washed up for a long time and just don’t realize it. All the work the band has put into a record is left to be judged solely by a record executive who is trying politely to tell the band that there is no bottom line. The band seems painfully unaware that they are being blown off. Here’s a test: do you imagine losers embarrassing themselves at a record company office or a company unwilling to take a risk on a record that they could probably make them a marginal profit?

 Although there are times when the band’s blind ambition is a little funny, their devotion to an art form in commendable and foreign to the standard of our times. I blame a generation obsessed with irony. There were laughs in the theater at what I considered to be the wrong times; laughs that indicted the members of the audience who felt they were watching a freak show. Gervasi handles his eccentric characters with the same care as the great documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. While we might be engaged in watching characters that have unusual outlooks, we are also aware that we are seeing characters who are important to the genetic  makeup of society. The Story of Anvil is a two-fold document of artistic expression. The film is a triumph and the music of Anvil is an model of outsider art brought into the public consciousness. 

05.13.09

30 Days of Night (2008)

30 Days of Night is a film about Eastern European vampires with voice modulators who travel around in a big black (painted black? I’m not sure) cruise ship eating people. They have been at it for centuries and appear to be pretty good at the eating part, but fall short at their strategy sessions. These supernatural baddies are able to decapitate people fairly easily. So I have to ask, why didn’t they just swoop in and decapitate everyone all at once? Why did they bother secluding everyone first? It’s an easy fix. “We can’t do it all at once because ____.” But the seclusion element is, of course, the best part of the movie. The vampires hang around a small town in Alaska that is cut off from contact from the outside world for a month every year due to the extreme weather conditions.  After the storm begins, the vampires commence to eat everyone in sight, then on to the task of picking off some people who are hiding out in an attic. I don’t understand why a cache of people were safe in an attic when there were about twelve buildings and twenty-five vampires in the town, but if you throw these kinds of conventional logic out the window, 30 days is very watchable. I have not read the book, which I hear is superior, but the movie is good for the quandary Dawn of the Dead raised, what would you do if a bunch of people wanted to eat you? There is bound to be a deep psychological seed that keeps the idea of exploding past hoards of expendable bodies alive in the movies. There is a certain satisfaction in the idea of mowing down an crowd of people without the threat of accidentally taking out a nun or a country doctor. You just need a new angle each time. 30 Days is clever and fun for watching people fall into garbage shredders, shotgun shells exploding heads and nine-year-old girl vampires with Einsturzende Neubauten tattoos. Just never ask why. 

Smash Records is about one of my favorite places in the world. I’ll be reading at Smash on May 23rd opening for the spoken word stylings of former Born Against vocalist Sam McPheeters. For any nerds interested in poetry, I am going to have copies of my new poetry book, Reticent Notoriety, and copies of Cramhole #3 with me. 

Otherwise, I am happily putting my semester behind me. I got a C in German, which is a real coup to me because I thought I was failing.

Cramhole #3 is already availible from Smash Records, Fantasy Comics, and Atomic Books. Also through Dischord Direct and Microcosm Publishing.

More to come. 

 

 

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