In the 1996 film Hard Core Logo, the titular band reunites for the first time in five years to do a benefit concert for frontman Joe Dick’s idol, Bucky Haight, who has been shot by a fan and is about to lose his legs. Things seem to be moving in a positive direction for the troubled group, but it becomes obvious that the band’s demons are never far from the surface. Bruce McDonald captures the journey across the country in this Canadian classic mockumentary.
In the film’s sequel, Hard Core Logo 2, Bruce has found fame and fortune after the fictional world release of his successful documentary about the band. He now makes his money directing a series called “The Pilgrim” for the Home Bible Network. This all goes well until the show’s star is arrested, after which Bruce spirals into a depression. Shortly thereafter, he is contacted by Care Failure lead singer of real world band Die Mannequin who claims that she has been possessed by the spirit of a rocker who was close to McDonald. Together with a Wiccan priestess named Liz (Shannon Jardine), Bruce decides to meet Care initially to investigate her claim. While investigating, Bruce runs into Bucky Haight (Julian Richings) who is trying to help Care and her band record an album that will make them famous. It is unclear at first whom is using whom ““ does Bruce just want to cash in on the visibly unstable Care Failure or is Bucky Haight the one pushing her to the edge?
As a true mockumentary should, Hard Core Logo 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously. The humour might not be to everyone’s taste or expectations, but the its value lies more in its ability to turn the mockumentary on its head. You wouldn’t expect to see a mockumentary that was funny and ridiculous, but also beautifully and poetically shot, and yet you find all of these things in Hard Core Logo 2. McDonald is an obviously talented filmmaker, making excellent use of camera techniques and the real/fictional world characterizations of both himself and Care Failure. His use of the beautiful, desolate winter landscape of Sasketchewan adds and unexpected raw beauty to the film. At times the seemingly endless, flat, white landscape echoes the sadness of the characters.
Failure’s work in this film is excellent. Whether she was attempting to characterize a fictional person named Care Failure, or was simply playing herself cannot be known, but her performance was compelling, garnering a genuine reaction from the audience. McDonald was great in his largest on-screen role as himself to date, using his normal wardrobe and manner to endear himself to the audience. The always incredible Julian Richings, whose character Bucky Haight had such a minor (but pivotal) role in the original film, does excellent work as a man with undefined motives, rounding out an excellent Canadian cast.
This is a stellar stand alone film, and as far as sequels go it turns the very notion of the sequel upside down. It is fresh and totally original, so much so that it will convert even the most hardened sequel haters. Hard Core Logo 2 has an exclusive engagement at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting April 13, 2012.
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