Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quick movie reviews, plus other stuff and bunny

In the Name of the Father: story set in the mid 70's in England. When the government decides the normal laws are insufficient to deal with the threat of terrorism, the laws are relaxed for anything deemed terrort-related. This leads to several innocent people being accused of a bombing and then being tortured until they confess and go to prison. Fortunately, we are Americans and learn from the mistakes of others, so that could never happen here. Four bunnies.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil: a documentary about a Canadian heavy metal band considered an early influence by major groups like Metallica, Guns-n-Roses, and Motorhead, except that fame never happened for them. It's like This Is Spinal Tap (true fact - their drummer is named Robb Reiner), except not as funny because it's happening to real people. For example, the lead guitarist took vacation time away from his job delivering lunches to schools in order to go on a European tour in which one club tried to pay in goulash because the band was late and which ended at a metal festival that drew a capacity crowd of 187. At the end, the band self-produced their 13th album (no record company would touch it), sent demos to all corners of the Earth, and received an invitation to play at a festival in Tokyo. When they arrived, they found they were slated to open the festival at 11:30 AM. On the way to the stage, the lead guitarist mused about how it was devastating to get your hopes up only to go on stage to be met with the sight of five people in the audience. Fortunately, it ends on an up note. On the way to the stage, the sound of an enormous crowd can be heard. They didn't say how many, but the venue could seat 20,000 and none of the crowd shots showed any available room. Bonus sight - hot Japanese women in French maid outfits chanting the band's name, at least as best they could in a language that doesn't have short vowels, v's or l's. And so the day was saved, thanks to the hotness that is Japanese woman. As usual. Four bunnies.

Waltz with Bashir: an animated film that is seriously not filled with cute talking animals and aimed at 6 year old kids. It follows a former Israeli soldier as he attempts to piece together what happened during a blank spot in his memory during the Lebanese war. It unfolds as a series of interviews with other witnesses, including conflicting memories, and leads to the remembrance of the massacre of citizens in Palestinian refugee camps by a Christian militia while the Israelis watched and did nothing. Animation was a good way to deliver the story as it allows you to focus more on the underlying issues of the atrocity rather than special effects needed to simulate bombs and bullets. The end is jarring as the movie abruptly stops and switches to news footage of crying survivors and piles of fly-covered bodies. Four and a half bunnies.

Red, White, Black and Blue: lackluster documentary about a forgotten battle in WWII, when American troops fought in a frozen hell for 19 days to remove Japanese troops who had landed on Attu island, the furthest of the Alaskan islands. Yes - in 1942 Japan actually landed troops on American soil, but news of the battle was suppressed to keep the public from hearing. One item of interest was that in the 80's the Japanese government built and donated a monument honoring the dead from both sides. Younger soldiers appreciated the gesture, while surviving members of the battle were driven to tears because the fallen Japanese were also honored. Two bunnies because the material deserved to be in a better made documentary.

I wouldn't presume to judge the survivors for hanging on to their hatred - by all accounts the fighting was as fierce as that on Iwo Jima except that they received no awards or recognition afterward since the location was politically inconvenient. I count myself lucky in the way things played out for me. The first three years of my time in the military was spent training to fight Russia. All of the propaganda was anti-Russia, from government TV / radio ads to crude hand-drawn posters on the wall saying "Ivan is watching you train!" And then we went to the middle east. The effect was like "THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! Let's go to Kuwait." Iraq was considered a half-assed ally at the time (kind of an enemy of an enemy is your friend thing), so nobody harbored any resentment against their soldiers. The Attu documentary included several interviews with survivors laughing about how they shot the Japanese who tried to surrender. In my case, I remember other soldiers reminding me to remove the MRE's containing pork products before feeding the prisoners.



metalmom said...

Thanks for the review of Anvil. I am curious to see it.

Jay said...

Those are excellent reviews.

Did you know that the Japanese actually dropped a balloon bomb on Omaha, Nebraska? Yup. Right about where the Dundee Dell is.

Media kept that one quiet too for the same reasons.

dr.alistair said...


they backed up dio at massey hall in toronto in `81 and continually demanded that the kids (i was 20 at the time.) bow down to them.

me and my mates yelled at the kids to stay standing and chant dio, dio, dio.

anvil could actually hear us yelling and were visibly rattled by this and wrapped up by saying that dio would be out soon and to enjoy the show.

why someone would want to make a documentary about anvil is beyond me...other than the fact that they are probably appoachable types hungry for attention, no matter how it makes them look.

if you want to see a real metal documentary check out "some kind of monster". it`s about metallica. absolutely brilliant.

about the dio show...they were briliiant and remain in my mind as one of the best shows i`ve ever seen...although the heaven and hell show with megadeth at the air canada center two years ago was on par...

Grant said...

metalmom - it's an interesting story, although they don't let the band play through a single song.

Jay - a balloon bomb sounds festive. I hope they followed up with a cake and ice cream bomb.

dr.alistair - I saw Some Kind of Monster, and it seemed to be the flip side of the Anvil documentary as it was about a bunch of guys who couldn't stand each other continuing to make music just for the money at a time in their lives when they no longer needed the money. I like their music, but I think they should call it quits.

Robin said...

The bunnies really bring your reviews to life.

Grant said...

Robin - bunnies improve everything.