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Posts Tagged ‘Hard Core Logo’
Road movies might be the great Canadian genre. From “Goin’ Down the Road” to “Highway 61” generations of Canadians have travelled from Cape Spear to Tofino in search of story, enlightenment and cold cans of Molson Export. With ruggedly beautiful terrain in the background and characters criss-crossing in the foreground, our filmmakers have often hit the road in search of cinematic success.
The latest Canadian director to hit the road is Kire Paputts. In his feature debut he tells the story of Eugene (Dylan Harman), a nineteen-year-old man with Down syndrome. When we first meet Eugene he’s living with his mom in a cramped Toronto apartment. She lies in bed hacking up a lung, her smoker’s cough filling the air, as and he fills his time watching “The Littlest Hobo,” the great canine Canadian traveller, on TV while drawing pictures of rainbows. “They say that at the end of the rainbow there is a pot of gold,” he says. “If I found the pot of gold I would buy video games.” He believes rainbows are a symbol of hope, so when tragedy strikes he sets off across country, on a bicycle with training wheels, greeting strangers with a simple question, “Have you seen the rainbow?”
By their nature road movies are episodic. The great ones tie their segments together thematically, building on a central thesis. “The Rainbow Kid” plays itself out in chapters but feels more like a series of random situations banged together to form a whole rather than a complete narrative that runs from start to finish. There are highlights along the way. Eugene’s rainbow hunt yields Elvis Grimes—Julian Richings doing a memorable riff on his “Hard Core Logo” character Bucky Haight—and Anna (Krystal Hope Nausbaum), a young special needs girl who introduces our hero to the carnal side of her nature.
To the film’s credit, as these segments drift together, Paputts is fearless his treatment of Eugene and the story. The tale takes a dark, unexpected turn near the end, but the tone of the film is less important than the way it portrays Eugene’s single mindedness of pursuit. He’s on a hero’s journey and nothing—irate stepfathers, old rock stars or criminals—will stop him. “The Rainbow Kid” happens to have a character with a disability but doesn’t use its non-traditional lead as a gimmick. Instead Harman’s emotional, charming performance grounds the fanciful film in humanity.
The Husband begins with a premise we’ve all heard before, a romantic triangle. There’s a husband, a wife and a lover but, as director Bruce McDonald points out, “in this case the lover is fourteen years old and the wife is in jail.”
The movie is a dark dramedy about Henry, (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, who also co-wrote the script), struggling to deal with the shame he feels when his wife is jailed for having an affair with a minor.
“The script really tries to understand what the male goes through in this crazy situation,” says McDonald. “It’s about regaining your mojo, about reclaiming your masculinity and power and it was written as a suspense story.
There was this ‘What’s this guy going to do’ thing all the way along. It was set up as a revenge movie. We meet our character and he is going through his day-to-day and one day, on the street, he sees the kid. The kid that did the deed. That sets off the movie, so it’s this cat and mouse game throughout the whole movie. I just loved the way it was constructed and the suspense of it. What is our character Henry going to do when he finally confronts the kid?
“He begins to do irrational things. First he’s trying to befriend this kid and get on his good side. To do what? And then other elements come into play where he is preparing something that you might think is a violent end to this confrontation. Henry is a mysterious and enigmatic character looking for some kind of closure on being the humiliated, cuckold husband.”
The edgy film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013. McDonald admits to being “very surprised at the reaction.”
“People were very taken with this movie,” he says. “They went in deep. I think they loved the oddness and the suspense of the story. They loved the situation and I think they loved how authentic and true it seemed to be in terms of the performances by Maxwell and Sarah Allen.
“Usually at the festival there’s two or three screenings. In this case the screening venues kept getting bigger and bigger which is always a bit frightening because the first screening is usually well attended and by the third you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen but our third screening was packed to the rafters.”
Hard Core Logo is as beloved a movie as this country has ever produced. Bruce McDonald’s 1996 punk rock road trip movie illustrates the better-to-burn-out-than-to-fade-away ethos in memorable style. It played at Cannes, made Hugh Dillon a film star and gave Canadian punk band Billy Talent their name.
So why did McDonald take almost fifteen years to make Hard Core Logo 2?
“It’s a hard question to answer because there isn’t a lot of logic to it,” he says. “It was more, ‘Wow, we had fun making the first one. Let’s go back for the fun of it.’ Then it was actually just getting around to doing the work. That’s the long time aspect of it, getting the energy to actually do the work.”
Fate also played a role.
“Timing is a sort of series of triggers where the world seems to offer up elements,” he says. “When I met Care (Failure, Die Mannequin lead singer and star of HCL2), I thought she seems to be a female version of Hard Core Logo. Meeting her added this curveball to the world. If we go back there what are we going to do? And suddenly she helped answer that question.”
The new film doesn’t pick up where the last one so notoriously left off—number one’s closing moments are as shocking as they memorable–but instead riffs off the spirit of the original, literally. Care Failure is a punk rock singer who may be possessed by the spirit of Joe Dick, the character Dillon played in the original.
“If you had to genre-ize it,” McDonald says, “it would be a personal-doc-rockumenatry-ghost-story. When you are dealing with ghosts and spirits suddenly you’re kind of opening a door to bigger questions—spooky questions, mortality questions.”
Hard Core Logo 2 has a much different feel than the original, but McDonald hopes fans will follow along.
“There are echoes of the past but it was not a direct aim at the past,” he says. “I was wifeless and childless and now there’s a big change. I think a lot of people who were fans of the first movie are different now as well. Your current state of being is reflected in the things you are interested in and the stories you are telling.”
In the end McDonald hopes the movie provides “good laughs, awesome music and that little reminder that life is beautiful.”
SYNOPSIS: The most romantic day of the year has come and gone, and while the rest of you are watering your roses or finishing off heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, basking in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day, the Reel Guys are celebrating Flag of Canadian Day by rounding up some of the best Canadian films from all ten provinces!
Richard: Mark, Canada has a rich tradition of documentary film making, so I thought I’d start with one of my recent favorite Can Con films, a doc by Sarah Polley. Stories We Tell is a frank look at a family secret. For years Sarah’s family wondered why she didn’t bare much resemblance to her father, actor Michael Polley. In the film she examines the story of her parentage, but what could have been a self-indulgent home movie is, instead, a riveting look into the dynamics of a group of individuals bound together by birth and circumstance. What’s grabbed you lately?
Mark: As it turns out, she doesn’t look much like her actual father, either! Yes, it’s a good movie, although the last twenty minutes seemed too abstract for the rest of the film. I don’t think you can talk about Canadian film without talking about French-Canadian film, which has such a rich history. I’m especially thinking of the great Denys Arcand, whose films play like a Quebecois version of Woody Allen’s neurotic New Yorkers, and some of the coming-of-age-themed movies like C.R.A.Z.Y and Leolo, which I think is a masterpiece.
RC: Masterpiece is a big word—literally, it’s eleven letters! But it’s also applicable in the case of the movies you mention. While we’re waving that flag I’d also add in Hard Core Logo, Bruce McDonald’s long hard look at a punk band’s life and death on the road. It’s one of the best-loved Canadian films of all time and an all time favorite of mine, regardless of origin. Less known, but also worthwhile, is the sequel HCL2, an eye popping follow-up that captures the spirit of the first film but is also completely fresh and surprising.
MB: There are hidden gems throughout our cinematic history. One of my favorites, Richard? A Fan’s Notes, from 1972. Based on the Fredereick Exley book of the same name, it’s a dark comedy about a middle-aged guy who realizes he will always be a fan, but never a player, in everything he does.
RC: A few years after A Fan’s Notes I saw The Silent Partner, a heist movie about a mall Santa with plans to rob a bank. It’s an entertaining movie with two lasting images: the newly built Toronto Eaton Centre and Christopher Plummer in drag!
MB: And if you watch Goin’ Down The Road from 1970, the Royal York Hotel is the tallest building on the Toronto skyline!