Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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This Is Spinal Tap (Embassy Pictures)

This Is Spinal Tap
(Embassy Pictures)

Week one of The Carolina Cinemas’ fortnight-long Music Madness series focuses on hard rock and metal bands, all of which are real in one form or another.  The lone exception is the fake quartet of Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap! (Grade: A), though they too recorded original numbers for the film (“Big Bottom,” anyone?) and have been known to reunite for live performances.  Joining it in the re-release category is Anvil: The Story of Anvil (Grade: B+), Sacha Gervasi’s look at the titular metal band who went from the mid-‘80s heights of Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax to obscurity, though never gave up on returning to the spotlight.  Dubbed “the real life Spinal Tap” upon the film’s 2008 release, the band (a key member of whom is the unrelated Robb Reiner) fittingly embarks on a comeback tour of epic misfortune, though refuses to lose heart.  Their journey is a fun one to experience (it’s Not Rated and plays daily at 11:30), and if you’ve somehow managed not to see the R-rated Spinal Tap in the past 29 years, I suggest getting to a 10:15 show by Thursday night.  As for the two new releases…

Broadway Idiot (Abramorama)

Broadway Idiot

Shortly after Green Day’s American Idiot came out in 2004, avid listeners began piecing together the rock opera story lines of core characters the Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy, and Whatsername.  Being a music-first fan for whom lyrics take a while to sink in, sitting down and giving the album a good narrative chance was something I’d intended to do, but kept delaying.  Now director Michael Mayer and music supervisor Tom Kitt have done the heavy lifting for me, turning the songs into an acclaimed stage musical, the journey of which is chronicled in the excellent documentary Broadway Idiot.  Though a preexisting interest in Green Day helps, director Doug Hamilton’s behind-the-scenes approach presents the catchy yet intelligent compositions as transcendent of novice roadblocks, especially in show form. Capturing the mutual awe and respect between the band and cast (including Short Term 12’s John Gallagher Jr. as Johnny/Jesus of Suburbia), the film is a love fest of creative collaboration and a celebration of both art forms.

Grade: A-

Not Rated.  Plays daily at 4, 6, and 7:30 p.m.

Metallica: Through the Never (Picturehouse Entertainment)

Metallica: Through the Never
(Picturehouse Entertainment)

The live performance footage of Metallica: Through the Never is intimate, sharp, and looks great in 3D, and like any decent concert film it mixes in anecdotes to keep the music fresh.  Here, the intercut side story of a roadie (The Place Beyond the Pine’s Dane DeHaan) helps break up the snoozy monotony of Metallica’s music (“Enter Sandman” indeed), but can’t help being too goofy for its own good.  Tasked with bringing gas to a stalled equipment truck, DeHann comes upon a clash between police, Occupy-like protesters, and a gas-masked executioner upon horseback.  His adventures coincide with events on stage (e.g. a sparking telephone pole timed with a malfunctioning light rig at the show), suggesting the band’s full involvement (all four are listed as co-writers) without letting their pasty audience in on the joke.  Metallica fans will no doubt delight in a pristine presentation of the band’s greatest hits, but outside of a few notable intros and interludes, it’s not likely to attract new fans.  The pair of impressive instrumental numbers that play alongside the credits, however, are another matter.

Grade: C+

Rated R for some violent content and language.  Plays daily at 1:30 (3D) and 8 p.m. (2D).

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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