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Anvil: The Story of Anvil





(OUT OF 10)

This film opens in 1984 with the mighty Anvil, a Canadian heavy-metal band, sharing the stage with Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and the Scorpions at a big rock festival. The band wasn't a huge success, but they had a promising future, and their work was influencing the likes of Slash, Metallica and Megadeth.

The movie then jumps to 2006, with guitarist and lead singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow working a delivery job for a catering service in Toronto. His band still exists, playing at wedding receptions and in dive bars. An enthused fan has put together a European tour that features a lot of missed trains and clubs stiffing them on pay. Albums have come and gone, but the band is long past their '80s "almost" heyday.

The film is a nice and crazy testament to sticking to your guns when it comes to art. Lips and his long-suffering drummer, Robb Reiner, have seen a lot of rough times over the years, but this movie has helped them gain some fame again. They reunited with producer Chris Tsangarides for a decent new album and recently had their first network-TV appearance on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien. They've also scored some opening gigs with AC/DC and are currently at work on new music.

Anvil is an example of a group cool enough to influence other groups, even though those other groups happened to be a bit better. Still, Kudlow and Reiner (a fine drummer) are entertaining, and seeing them get a bit of success is one of the great charms of this movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Lips and Reiner sit in on a director's commentary. You also get an extended interview with Lars Ulrich and some deleted scenes.

Up (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

One of the year's best movies is out next week as one of the year's best DVD packages. Pixar, once again, topped themselves with this story of an elderly man attaching balloons to his beloved home and floating away to South America. A young boy was on his porch at the time of takeoff, so he goes along for the ride, too.

Touching and often hilarious, this movie is Pixar's best "human" story yet. It also features their best animal creation in Dug the golden retriever. Able to speak thanks to a special collar, Dug says exactly the sort of stuff you would expect a golden retriever to say. His expressions are priceless.

This is the very best computer-animated film yet made.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Blu-Ray has a terrific commentary track from the film's creators that includes pop-up photos. Other extras include deleted sequences and a new short called "Dug's Extra Mission" that covers the moments leading up to his introduction in the film.

Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Just when Python-heads thought they'd seen and heard it all, this six-hour documentary comes along and gives up all kinds of cool info about six of the funniest men ever.

Recently aired on IFC in six parts, the show is now available on Blu-Ray and standard DVD, and it is amazing. All five surviving Pythons sit down for new interviews (the late Graham Chapman is seen in archive interviews and sketches), and they are all in revealing moods. John Cleese is especially candid about Graham Chapman's alcohol abuse and death.

There are entire hours dedicated to Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian, an hour dedicated to life before Python, and two hours covering Monty Python's Flying Circus. There's also an hour dedicated to The Meaning of Life and careers after Python.

After six hours of watching this, I wanted 60 more.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Extended interviews, outtakes from the documentary and even some sketches.






(OUT OF 10)

Michelle Pfeiffer gets back together with her Dangerous Liaisons director Stephen Frears, and while she provides a decent-enough performance, the script fails to back her up.

She plays Lea de Lonval, a late-19th-century courtesan who begins an affair with Chéri (Rupert Friend), a younger man and the son of another courtesan (Kathy Bates). The film is a story about quitting while ahead, for Lonval was looking at retiring before getting involved and committing the ultimate courtesan no-no: falling in love.

Friend is annoying as the young and reckless man, and the script makes him completely ugly. The movie feels short and ends abruptly (although the final shot of Pfeiffer looking into the mirror is a stunner). Still, in a year that is so far light on Oscar-worthy performances, Pfeiffer could get an Oscar nomination out of this.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A short making-of doc and some rightfully deleted scenes.

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