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Hard Core Logo (1996)

by on 2013/02/10

Hard Core Logo (1996)

“He may not enjoy it. He’ll bitch, but he’ll be there.”

* * *

Sometimes I need to see things more than once. Either I’m not sure exactly how I feel – as with Kick-Ass and Pleasantville – or I sense I’m in the wrong frame of mind to judge it that first time. The latter is how I felt when I first saw Hard Core Logo. Usually I do as I did with those three, I put them aside and move on.

Now it’s music movie month, and the video called to me to try again since it disappointed me nearly two years ago.

I’m glad to say it worked out better than I’d hoped but, despite new respect, it didn’t exactly thrill me, engross me, or tickle my funnybone.

Fictional punk band Hard Core Logo reunites for a show, a benefit for their mentor, Bucky Haight (Treed Murray’s Julian Richings). The experience spurs them on to do a tour from the west coast through the Prairies. Will they reach a final Toronto show, before they wind up killing each other? Bruce McDonald’s documentary crew goes along for the ride, not just to film any fireworks, but to kindle the fuse as need be.

The stars are singer Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon of Trailer Park Boys) and guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie of Gunless). Oddly – maybe intentionally – I find them similar, as if Mickey Rourke and Michael Biehn were cast to play the same character, pretty much distinguished by their hair.

The two are very convincing as estranged friends with a past, sharing both a rapport and, at the same time, a lot of resentment. They project a sense of sympathy though, being damaged, still lash out at each other. They benefit tremendously from the charisma of their players.

Their lives, at least on this limited tour, are hardly a rock and roll party. The film could be categorized as unglamorous, gritty, and more tragic than comic. This isn’t a reunion so much as resumed dissolution. There are moments of genuine affection, of fun, and even twisting discomfort, which made it a disappointment when the production resorted to “novelty”.

A post-board’s worth of visual tricks reminded me of Six Reasons Why: double exposures, high-speed footage, split-screening, superimpositions, and that old nemesis of mine, the pages of text. Standard full-colour footage is sometimes replaced by a duotone blue (interviews), sepia treatment (stills and flashbacks), and white frame matting (group shots). They’re interesting ideas in theory, but didn’t appeal to me in practice.

Ultimately, my biggest issue was the documentary format. While it works for me with most comedy, as in This Is Spinal Tap, it doesn’t if I know any angst is fictional. As I watched, I thought it’s a bit like the Uncanny Valley, conceptually. The closer it gets to realism, the more I feel put off because, whatever happens, I know it still isn’t real.

Perhaps it depends on the person. I just can’t take the life and hard times of Joe Dick seriously when actual bands have gone through a whole lot worse . . . or go through lesser trials, yet interest me more because I care. Hard Core Logo is interesting, yes, but it rarely made me care.

* * *

Trailer (NSFW/offsite):

Rated R

92 minutes

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