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Worth A Look: 41.54%
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Sucks: 1.54%

5 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Hard Core Logo
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by Isobel Sharp

"A movie about a movie about a band about to implode."
5 stars

Let's start a band! It'll be great; we'll get drunk, get laid, make music, sleep late - what more could a guy want? Then later, we'll get older, get disillusioned and bitter, and we'll screw each other over while trying to rebuild the dream that seemed so easy when we were eighteen. Ain't rock and roll a bitch?

All hail the mighty Hard Core Logo! A legend in Canadian punk music, HCL is getting back together one last time for a benefit for another punk legend, the great Bucky Haight, recently brought low by a freak with a shotgun who blew Bucky's lower legs clean off. Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon), HCL's contrary, unrepentant lead singer, has arranged this whole scene, dragging his bandmates out of retirement for this good work. Well, two of them are retired; one, the aptly-named Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie), lead guitar player, has promised his good friend Joe that he'll come back from L.A., where he's just about to sign with big-name band Jenifur, for this one show, for old time's sake. Just a gathering of old friends, having a last hurrah before moving on to other, mostly less glorious, things.

The benefit, though, is such a success that Joe talks the band into a last tour - five shows spread out across the Canadian prairie, a little more time spent together, reliving HCL's glory days, playing real music, with no manager, no sponsor, just four guys in a van, on the road - the essence of a band. This is Joe's idea of paradise, and once he talks a reluctant Billy into it (after promises of actual hotel rooms booked, no sleeping in the van, five shows and out, I swear), it seems a done deal. With the addition of a film crew, originally slated to just film the benefit, but now co-opted into documenting HCL's last tour, the band sets out on the road.

All seems well at first, of course; typical band behavior, screwing with the drummer, teenage jokes and bad language, road games to while away the hours of driving across beautifully barren Canadian winterscapes, all pass the time. Then, inevitably, things start to go downhill. Drummer Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson), genial screw-up, is the 15-year-old loose without his parents, and on his worst behavior. Bassist John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson) loses the pills that keep him stable, and his voice-over narrations start to slide from smart observations to schizo-Shakespearean madman's rants. And a few phone calls from L.A. about Billy's future with Jenifur send the relationship between Joe and Billy into a spin, putting their intensely close history at odds with their very differing views of the future. Add in a film crew, a closed club, and a side-trip that reveals Bucky Haight's real condition, and four guys on a bus become four rats trapped in a cage, ripping at each other at every turn.

The core of the film is the relationship between Joe and Billy, which is laid out in a series of simple and well-played scenes between the two. Dillon and Rennie do an excellent job of being close friends, with all the love and cruelty that this kind of relationship can have. Dillon's Joe Dick is a man in love with hating the crap of the corporate music world, determined to save Billy from it, and thereby give himself a future. The fact that Dillon is a musician and not really an actor only makes him better in this role; he's perfectly believable as a passionate, self-centered rebel. Callum Rennie gives a great, complex performance as Billy, who is trying to get away from the deliberately self-destructive Joe and make something of himself, while realizing that will mean leaving part of himself behind. The interactions between Joe and Billy are exactly on the mark; they make this fake documentary feel real from the outset. Pyper-Ferguson's low-key Oxenberger slides downhill without seeming over-the-top or foolish, and emphasizes the uneasy feeling that starts to permeate the film. And Coulson does a good job at being just the simple guy who wants to have a little more fun before he goes back to being nothing; he's what Billy is too talented, Joe is too complex, and Oxenberger is too broken to be.

Director Bruce McDonald has placed himself in the film once again, as the documentary director, who deliberately manipulates events in order to both make a more interesting film, and to repay Joe and the others who heap punk-rock abuse on his status as passive observer. McDonald does a great job in this film, the third of his rock and roll road movie trilogy, of melding the metaphor of travel with the idea of a personal journey, and he does it so smoothly that at no point is the metaphor brought obviously to attention. The film plays like part documentary, part reality-tv show, where you know the director is making cuts and revealing information to set the story the way he wants. As the film goes on, Bruce-in-the-film's hand becomes more obvious, and it's interesting to see how he frames scenes to underline the treachery that is going on between the bandmates.

Despite the comparisons, this is not Spinal Tap, Canadian-style. It's not a parody, and though it's often funny, it's not a comedy. Hard Core Logo is closer to a real documentary, showing us how close being friends is to being enemies, and how one man's dream can easily be another man's destruction. Other than one acid-trip scene, this film feels real, for better and for worse, until the bitter end.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=28&reviewer=291
originally posted: 04/04/02 15:07:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/15/10 Issac Maez Best movie I've seen with one of the coolest chicks I ever knew 5 stars
6/20/09 cate for five years of my life, i don't think i went more then a week w/o seeing this movie 5 stars
4/26/07 Disco Jim I never wanted to see this movie and after I did I couldn't believe how good it was. 5 stars
3/05/07 suzy Brilliant, poignant study of a man's desperate attempt to regain the two loves of his life 5 stars
12/10/05 TNTO One of the finest movies I've ever seen, with and ending that simply floors you. 5 stars
7/22/05 Duggo* What spinal tap and SLC punk could only dream to bare as offspring 5 stars
12/14/04 toshia murray i loved this movie its one of my favorites! 5 stars
10/05/04 Jackie This was almost totally scripted? Bruce and the boys get it all terribly right. 5 stars
6/25/04 Scott HCL was (for what it is) the best film I've seen in a long while. 5 stars
6/09/04 Mr. X A bore 1 stars
1/24/03 Empress of Misrule Hugh Dillon and Callum Keith Rennie are gods. Nuff said! 5 stars
11/06/02 hindsight brilliantly raw, kickass epic! dillon is awesome. *check out headstones.com* kickass band! 5 stars
8/17/02 roby fabolous 5 stars
8/13/02 Ryan Damn good movie 5 stars
8/06/02 Michael Garrett This, the 2nd installment in Bruce McDonald's "Rock & Road Trilogy" is brilliant !! 5 stars
7/30/02 Shayheyred Relentless and brilliant. Waves of charisma from leads Dillon and Rennie 5 stars
7/26/02 Max Platinum Gripping from start to finish, no low spots 4 stars
4/27/02 Dickie Best ending I have seen. Great acting, dark humour! Trip scene great! 5 stars
4/13/02 The Bomb69 eh, I don't see what all the fuss is about, not real funny 3 stars
11/30/01 door **thud** own this film. you must own this film. this film will fuck you over. 5 stars
11/01/01 Mark Ziebinski Brilliant funny unfuckingbelievable!! 5 stars
6/16/01 Mongi Elegant 5 stars
6/02/01 yep yep 5 stars
5/06/01 Fionnuala Worth watching a few times, here be layers 5 stars
4/19/01 mohd fahmee ismail nothing,just ok! 3 stars
3/26/01 k cletheroe cool movie 5 stars
2/27/01 chrystal this movie is fucked up, if you havent seen it get up off your ass and see it u fuck!! 5 stars
1/04/01 Caitlin Shaw It's so raw it hurts -- especially if you don't know how it ends 5 stars
4/27/00 Jon Cleaver This film is simply brilliant! See at any cost 5 stars
12/06/99 Joe James Hard hitting, emotionally raw and beautiful. A classic! 5 stars
11/13/98 Rick Switzer A pretty accurate depiction of band life 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce If you can handle the music and get the comedy, this is a fucking great film. Hilarious. 5 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee The greatest rock'n'roll road movie since Easy Rider. Funny as hell. See this film!! 5 stars
8/12/98 Pete Amazing flick. Makes 'Spinal Tap' look like a pile of puke. 4 stars
8/12/98 {{OZ}} Great punk road movie. Sound sucks, but it's way cool. 4 stars
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  13-Nov-1998 (R)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005


  02-May-1998 (M)

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