There are plenty of interesting ‘rockumentaries” but what strikes me about “Anvil!” is that it’s not a movie that could have been made with much success twenty years ago, or perhaps even ten years ago. Its themes of mid-life rockism carrying on well past its prime and artistic perseverance in the face of a music world that’s completely changed beneath the band members’ feets seem ideally suited for this particular moment in pop music’s history: rock ’n’ roll is fundamentally innocuous now, regardless of what flavor of it a band might trade in, and the record industry is in tatters. Last night, for instance, I heard a tune from the critically praised band Dirty Projectors as an unidentified backdrop to a television commercial and thought to myself, “Yep, that’s about right.”
Worst of the “Lot”
Speaking of rock movies, over at The A.V. Club Chicago music writer Jim DeRogatis picks the worst rock movies ever. His list of seven offenses to rock sensibility — including Oliver Stone’s absurd “The Doors,” Martin Scorcese’s sycophantic “The Last Waltz,” and U2’s bombastic “Rattle & Hum” — is largely predicated on his distaste for hagiography. I can’t argue with that, just as I can’t argue with the movies on his list, with the exception of the wonderful “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” an amateur documentary shot outside of a 1986 Judas Priest concert in Landover, Maryland. That low-grade time capsule from the 1980s is not just a terrific historical portrait of people I very well might have known growing up, it also shows that even when rock ’n’ roll is less than glamorous it’s still irrepressibly vibrant. Plus, it’s a movie about heavy metal music which, apparently, I quite like.