How do you make a sequel to a fifteen year old movie in which the lead character ends the film by killing himself in a fit of booze fuelled existential ennui? Ask Bruce McDonald. His film “Hard Core Logo,” a long hard look at a punk band’s life and death on the road is one of the best loved Canadian films of all time. A sequel seemed unthinkable. Sacrilegious even. But here we are with a new film, “Hard Core Logo 2” which, on one hand, manages to capture the spirit of the first film and on the other, be something completely fresh and surprising.
In the beginning of the film McDonald, playing himself, recaps his life since shooting the final, shocking scene of his “documentary” “Hard Core Logo.” In the film’s world he has gone from indie filmmaker to successful television director, living a Hollywood life in Laurel Canyon. Just as his television career hits the skids he learns of a young punk singer in Florida who claims to be possessed by Joe Dick, the subject of the original “Hard Core Logo.” Deciding to investigate, he grabs a camera and crew and heads on a long strange journey to Florida and points north.
To paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen, “I knew “Hard Core Logo,” and sir, “Hard Core Logo 2” is no “Hard Core Logo.”” Instead it is a wonderfully heated examination of obsession, media and the march of time. McDonald and co-writer Dave Griffith have created a pop confection that sparkles with life and excitement. The gritty feel of the original movie is gone, replaced by McDonald’s eclectic visual style. Film stocks shift and change, some scenes are allowed to linger while others fly by in a blizzard of eye popping edits and some beautiful portraiture that wouldn’t be out of place in a book of still photography.
It’s a lot of style to be sure but luckily there’s a lot of substance to go along with the movie’s look. McDonald weaves an examination of celebrity and the creative process through a personal story that questions artistic responsibility and the blurring of art and real life; heady stuff accompanied by many laugh out loud moments.
At the center of it all is Die Mannequin rock goddess Care Failure playing herself as possessed by the spirit of the late Joe Dick (who does appear in flashbacks and fever dreams). A kind of exaggerated Courtney Love type, Failure is so fiercely charismatic it’s hard to take your eyes off her in any scene she appears in. Not sure if she could be nearly as effective in any other movie—maybe if they remake Sid & Nancy—but here she is inglorious perfection.
“Hard Core Logo 2” occasionally suffers from a bit too much narration—it often talks about things rather than showing us—but the payoff is so bizarrely satisfying and even heartwarming that I’ll forgive the excess chatter.