Wednesday, December 9, 1998

Hard Core Logo

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Hard Core Logo is the name of a Canadian punk band which reunites after a five-year hiatus in order to play a benefit for English punk legend Bucky Haight (Julian Richings). It seems that Bucky has been the victim of a random shooting and has lost a leg or both legs, depending on who's telling the story.

The Logos find their old chemistry intact and so decide to go on tour again -- one last time, since the lead guitarist is being courted by the band Jenifur, a group so desperately trendy and moderately successful as to have made the cover of Spin. As they travel across the vast wilderness of Canada, from one seedy venue to the next, we watch their tenuous gestalt unravel.

Mohawked lead singer Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon), who works overtime at embodying a hopelessly outdated punk ethos, is at constant odds with guitarist Tallent, even though their association goes back to their school days -- they have the sort of mutual contempt one often finds only in the oldest of friends. Bassist John (John Pyper-Ferguson) is a borderline schizophrenic who originally joined the band because he figured, rightly, that it would place him in a milieu where people wouldn't notice that he was insane. And drummer Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson) is that grotesque specimen the eternal adolescent, pushing 40 and still aspiring to be class clown.

Hard Core Logo is a fictional documentary about a rock band -- adapted by Noel S. Baker from a novel by Michael Turner -- that's been compared to This Is Spinal Tap, which is hardly fair, since it isn't a comedy or even a satire. What humor there is in the film -- and there isn't that much -- comes out of the scene it depicts. There are no inserted jokes, just jokey banter, no broad stereotypes, just people acting out.

Director Bruce McDonald's arch vérité style is clever and there's one flamboyantly druggy sequence that buzzes with authenticity. The performers are uniformly fine, but the film's major drawback -- and it's a biggie -- is the music. For a punk band, these guys have an amazingly clean sound -- vocals up front and enunciated, guitar loud but well-articulated. Their songs sound more like slick power pop goofs than grassroots yowls, more redolent of the studio than the garage. But then, it's Canada, and maybe that's the way they do it up there.

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