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Core Logo 1996
Directed by: Bruce McDonald
Written by: Noel S. Baker, Michael Turner [book]
Starring: Hugh Dillon, Callum Keith Rennie, Bernie Coulson, John
Pyper-Ferguson, Julian Richings
Look for it at the video store under:
drama, foreign [Canada]
Watch it when you’re in the mood
for something: darkly
/ 5 the rating
Charismatic, volatile punk
rocker Joe Dick manages to reunite his former band, Hard Core Logo, for
a special benefit concert in honor of punk-pioneer Bucky Haight. Fueled
by the show's success, the members of Hard Core Logo decide to give it
another go, and together, set off on a tour of Western Canada.
Documentary filmmaker Bruce McDonald and his crew follow the band from
dingy club to dingy club, capturing the ups and downs of life on the
road. Like any dysfunctional family, Hard Core Logo’s four members
love each other too much to let the band die its natural death, but
fight far too bitterly to make the situation particularly healthy for
any one of them. Bassist John Oxenberger loses the pills that control
his schizophrenia and rapidly begins to lose his mind, while manic
drummer Pipefitter – whose brain cells have clearly gone to pot long
ago – oh-so-sensitively gives poor John crap for his deteriorating
mental health. And through it all there's the tension between frontman
Joe, a punk purist who loathes nothing more than selling out, and his
childhood best buddy, guitarist Billy Tallent, who’s on the verge of
experiencing major pop-rock stardom with a potential new gig playing in
hot band called Jennifur.
just no getting around it: you can’t help but compare Hard Core
Logo with Rob Reiner’s cult classic, This is Spinal Tap.
Both follow the trials and tribulations of a band as it struggles to
remain intact despite cancelled shows and deep personal conflicts. And
both tell their stories in a pseudo-documentary format, with each film’s
real director appearing within the context of the fiction, as the fake
director of the film-within-the-film. But if you were to pick up Hard
Core Logo at the video store expecting to get a hilarious, punk-rock
version of Spinal Tap … well, you’d be in for a surprise.
Bruce McDonald’s dark, cynical film is actually more like the flip
side of Spinal Tap, which when you think about it, makes perfect
sense. The punk rock underground of Hard Core Logo is the antithesis of
Spinal Tap’s heavy-metal pop world, railing against all of the greed
and materialism, excess and superficiality that the latter embraces with
glee. There’s plenty of humor to be found, but it’s sly and subtle,
consisting primarily of self-referential in-jokes, like when Joe and
Billy play a car game that involves naming fictional Canadian bands
(very metafictional indeed). It’s the sort of funny that’s more
likely to elicit soft chuckles than slap-your-knee guffaws. In a way,
the laughs seem incidental, brief diversions from the movie’s main
themes: the friction between punk and pop, that fuzzy gray line
separating success and selling out, and the sad fact that clinging to
the past can sometimes be a serious impediment to moving on with one’s
future. All of which are represented in the complex relationship between
Joe Dick and Billie Tallent, fantastically played by Hugh Dillon and
Callum Keith Rennie, respectively. Hard Core Logo’s no Spinal
Tap, and that’s not a bad thing: it’s intelligent, intriguing,
emotionally affecting … yet another example of fine Canadian
—reviewed by Y. Sun
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