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Canada 1996
Directed by
Bruce McDonald
120 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Hard Core Logo

Although Hard Core Logo has been branded as punk rock’s This is Spinal Tap that film was a spoof whereas Bruce McDonald’s film, adapted by Noel Baker from the novel of the same name by author Michael Turner, while sharing the comeback-tour movie format, is a fictional representation that is so convincing that it appears to be a documentary.

The film purports to be documenting the reunion of once-popular punk band, Hard Core Logo, comprising lead singer Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon), guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie), bass player John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson), and drummer, Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson), after Joe engineers a benefit tour for his idol, Bucky Haight (Julian Richings) who he claims has had both his legs shot off.  A film crew  joins them as they travel from Vancouver to Toronto with nerves fraying and the personality clash between the two principals, Joe and Billy, eventually coming to a head.

If you like punk music and are a fan of Penelope Spheeris’s 1981 classic The Decline of Western Civilization Hard Core Logo will be a must-see (a few real punk bands appear, as does Joey Ramone) but it also works as depiction of a past-its-peak band in meltdown, the sort of thing explored in the real 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster. Dillon, who in real life was the singer for a successful Canadian band, The Headstones, gives a compelling performance as the unlikeable, manipulative Joe and while Pyper-Ferguson and Coulson are in appearance more metal than punk they add a some variety to the scenario, John being a medicated, reflective fish-out-of-water and Pipefitter a good-natured buffoon. Rennie is an appealing foil for Joe and does a very good impression of a punk guitarist

The film could have been a tad shorter, with a few of the scenes pushing the limit of one’s attention, but by-and-large Hard Core Logo is an impressively-made film.

FYI: There was an ill-judged 2010 sequel, HCL2, directed by McDonald, which by all accounts should never have been made.




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