Hard Core Logo 2 is mostly smartass fun


Starring Bruce McDonald, Care Failure, and Julian Richings. Rating unavailable.

You might think movies and rock ’n’ roll were made for each other, but the actual history of Hollywood and beyond suggests otherwise. For some reason, it has been difficult to stuff that swivel-hipped genie into the bottle—at least partially because movies about music are usually about breaking bottles, not about youthful exuberance or the creative process.

Bruce McDonald got closer than most in 1996’s Hard Core Logo, based on Vancouverite Michael Turner’s novel of the same name. It was This Is Spinal Tap played for realz, with the raw, unfocused fury of a fictional punk band on the road captured with nose-thumbing flair. This sequel of a sort follows the messy death of HCL’s Johnny Rotten–like leader, Joe Dick, played by then-newcomer Hugh Dillon.

McDonald, again playing a parallel version of himself, is still haunted by Dick’s demise, especially since it may have been played out for his camera. The lens-as-weapon meme returns here, this time focusing on real-life band Die Mannequin and its ruby-lipped singer, Care Failure, who hints that she’s inhabited by the late singer’s tobacco-stained spirit.

Another connection comes from Dick’s old (tor)mentor, Bucky Haight (the cadaverous Julian Richings), set to produce the Mannequins’ next record. There is no sign of Callum Keith Rennie’s Billy Tallent or the other Logos, except in flashback footage. In fact, the crazed mix of contrasting film stocks, dream ’n’ drug sequences, and just damn-fine-looking digital imagery is the real subject of the new movie, which takes the metasatirical aspects of the first one to Godardian heights.

The rush of pure cinema comes together well in some of the musical numbers, with the pouty Failure’s pop-punky tunes superbly recorded. But the smartass fun is undercut by the director’s vestigial requirements to tell a routinely conflict-laden story. Many will find the plot, and his matter-of-fact narration, on the silly side. But they should at least be able to hum along with the rest.

Watch the trailer for Hard Core Logo 2.

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