undercover-undiscovered-underutilised-underwear (_unhurt_) wrote in the_ckr_files,

Hard Core Logo (movie post)

Ignore the promotional descriptions. This is not a punk rock Spinal Tap. Nor is it a comedy - though it is often funny. It is the story of a west coast punk band's ill-fated reunion tour filmed as a mock-rock-umentary, and follows their inevitable disintegration as old tensions resurface. There's love, friendship, ambition, betrayal, screwing (up) and knife-licking. Chicks dig it. You'll love it.

The IMDB page: Hard Core Logo (1996)

Written by Noel S. Baker (who also appears uncredited in the Bruce McDonald short Elimination Dance. As did Michael Turner), adapted from the novel/poetry collection of the same name by Michael Turner. Directed by Bruce McDonald, whose other directing credits include Roadkill (1989), Highway 61 (1991), Dance Me Outside (1995), The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (2004), The Tracey Fragments (2007) and episodes of Twitch City and ReGenesis. Some guy called Hugh Dillon played opposite Callum as Joe Dick. At the time lead singer for Canadian rock act the Headstones, he had previously had a role in McDonald's Dance Me Outside, later appeared in The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess and in film festival favourite Down To The Bone, and more recently starred in acclaimed TV drama Durham County. (I could go on, but this is not the_hd_files and i would like to, uh. Live and stuff.) Molly Parker also "appears" as a member of Jenifur.

Cast / Characters:

Calum Keith Rennie
Hugh Dillon
John Pyper-Ferguson
Bernie Coulson
Julian Richings
Bruce McDonald

Billy Tallent
Joe Dick
John Oxenberger
Bucky Haight
Documentary Filmmaker

Year: 1996

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Canada

IMDB rating: 7.3/10 (1075 votes)

Genre: Comedy | Drama | Music

Keywords: Road | Fictional Band | Canada | Black Comedy | Childhood Friend | (more) (including Masturbation Scene!)


4 wins & 6 nominations:

Won -
The 1996 Genie for Best Achievement in Music - Original Song for "Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?" (Michael Turner, Peter J. Moore)
Best Canadian Film (Bruce McDonald) at the 1996 Sudbury Cinéfest
Best Canadian Feature Film (Bruce McDonald) at the 1996 Vancouver International Film Festival
Best Canadian Screenplay ( Noel S. Baker) at the 1996 Vancouver International Film Festival

Nominated for -
The 1996 Genie for Best Achievement in Direction (Bruce McDonald)
The 1996 Genie for Best Screenplay, Adapted (Noel S. Baker)
The 1996 Genie for Best Motion Picture
The 1996 Genie for Best Achievement in Editing
The 1996 Genie for Best Achievement in Overall Sound
The 1996 Taos Talking Picture Festival Taos Land Grant Award (Bruce McDonald)

There are 38 user comments (most of them positive, but - well. it is IMDB...).

One example:

This Is Spinal Tap (1984) is generally regarded as the quintessential rock 'n' roll mockumentary—a hilarious look at the inept trials and tribulations of a heavy metal band. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Hard Core Logo (1996), a no frills balls-to-wall look at a fictitious punk rock band. Where Tap is a funny satire, Logo has a much darker undercurrent that gives it an unpredictable edge.

Retired for some years, legendary Canadian punk rock band, Hard Core Logo reunites for a one-off benefit concert for their mentor, Bucky Haight who supposedly had both legs amputated after being shot by a crazy fan. The gig goes so well that the band's charismatic lead singer, Joe Dick convinces everyone to go on a mini-tour across Western Canada with a documentary crew tagging along for the ride. It takes no time at all for all the old gripes and grudges to resurface, most significantly, the fact that lead guitarist, Billy Talent is close to signing on with Jenifur, an MTV-friendly band that has made it to the cover of Spin magazine. This doesn't sit to well with Joe who comes from the old school of punk rock that refuses to sell-out to major labels or appear in glossy corporate magazines. As the tour progresses, the friction between the band members becomes more palpable until it achieves a critical mass.

Hard Core Logo is the third film in Bruce McDonald's informal rock 'n' roll road movie trilogy that started with Roadkill and Highway 61. While something of a minor sensation in Canada, McDonald's films have been largely ignored in the United States, due mostly to lack of proper distribution. This changed somewhat with Logo when Quentin Tarantino saw it a film festival and liked it so much that he bought the US distribution rights under his Rolling Thunder vanity label.

There is a certain raw vibe that permeates Logo and this is perfect for its rough around the edges subject matter. The unrefined attitude is due in large part to the presence of Hugh Dillon as Joe Dick. Not a professional actor but rather lead singer of the Canadian blues punk bank, The Headstones, Dillon's lack of formal training gives his performance a certain unpredictability that is perfect for his character. He obviously drew a lot on his own real life experiences of being in a band and this makes everything he says and does that much more believable.

The interplay between the rest of the band is also very well done. Callum Keith Rennie plays the gifted, low key guitarist who has clearly surpassed his bandmates, Bernie Coulson is the crazy drummer who seems clueless but knows what to do when it counts, and finally John Pyper-Ferguson is the terminally burnt out bass player whose road diary provides the film's voice-over narration. The way these guys joke and argue with each other—like adults who refuse to grow-up—is so good that it feels like they've really been in a band together for many years.

Filmmaker Bruce McDonald keeps this all together with his solid direction. He has an excellent sense of pacing—the movie never gets boring—and he instinctively knows that the essence of any good rock 'n' roll movie is, as he puts it, "extremely loud music and cool shots." Cinematographer Danny Nowak uses the shaky, hand-held camera-work that documentaries are known for and he also shoots the band in cool slow motion shots that emphasizes their iconic status.

Along with the aforementioned Spinal Tap and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, Hard Core Logo is one of the best fictitious rock 'n' roll movies ever made. It has a genuine appreciation for music and an acute knowledge of the conventions and clichés of the genre. Like Spinal Tap, McDonald's film isn't afraid to make fun of these conventions and like Almost Famous, there is an authenticity to how the band is portrayed and the music they make. Forget the Miramax version and hunt down a copy of this new special edition—it's definitely worth those extra Canadian dollars.

You can find all the comments here.

Callum Quotient: High. Really high. I would say nearing 100%, because without Billy Tallent there is no story or pivotal relationship. Screen time-wise, maybe 80%?



  • Joe: "There's two ways to look at it: Billy wants the models and limousines, while I'm happy with hookers and taxicabs."

  • Billy: "After a certain age it's hard to make friends. I've known Joe since I was thirteen and, um, I love him more than anyone I've met since."

  • Billy: "He showed us his stump, Victoria. Ever see a man's stump? Guy's like, "Go on, man. I want you to know how it feels. Touch it. Touch my stump." Disgusting! So don't tell us that Bucky Haight wasn't shot, cause we were there. We touched his stump."

  • Billy: "I can't come to the phone right now, I'm eating corn chips and masturbating."

  • Billy [to Joe]: "You are a MAJOR FUCKUP! You were fucked up last night, got all our money ripped off, you were fucked up the night you fuckin' bit me, you were fucked up the night you destroyed our career... YOU ARE FUCKED UP EVERY TIME YOU GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO FUCK ME!!! [to John] That honest enough for you, John-boy? [to Pipe] And fuck you too!"


  • Callum couldn't (and cannot) actually play the guitar. (Nor, for that matter, could Hugh Dillon at the time.) Opinions differ as to how successfully he fakes it. *g*

  • In the "white trash couple" interview scene, Billy has a sticking plaster on his right index finger. It's been suggested this is a reference to Bruce McDonald's Highway 61 and is a sign that Billy, like characters in that film, has sold his soul in return for what he wants most - presumably fame and/or success.

  • The sunset scene with the Goat van was filmed at sunrise, as both look the same for cinematic purposes. The farmer whose driveway they asked permission to park in brought his family out to watch them film, which turned out to be unfortunate since, "The actors [found] ways to cram twenty or thirty more fucks into the scene."

  • In the Tarantino-scripted, Tony Scott directed film True Romance, Brad Pitt has a small role as a permanently-wasted couch-dwelling roommate. This role was apparently based on Bernie Coulson, who was at one time Brad Pitt's roommate in LA.

  • In Michael Turner's book, the reunion tour is actually an "unplugged" acoustic one. During the screenwriting process, other suggestions were made - at one point, Bruce McDonald slated the idea that perhaps Hard Core Logo could be an all-girl band instead.

  • When they were shooting the late night diner scene, Hugh was tired and couldn't hit his lines. Eventually Callum helped out by sticking post-it notes to his forehead. (This image will never stop being a thing of joy for me.)

Interesting scenes:

  • The movie game: not only does the movie game namecheck This Is Spinal Tap, but Joe's losing choice, Young At Heart, is a "1950s Technicolor romance about a self-destructive musician who goes to the brink of death for love, but is delivered unto a happy ending with Doris Day (a weirdly idealized Billy Tallent). Billy's scorn for Young at Heart warns Joe not to expect any happy ending to his renewed "courtship"." (Noel Baker, Hard Core Roadshow 1997 p. 105)

  • During the acid trip sequence at Bucky's farm, Billy licks a knife. This might not sound very exciting, but it's definitely, uh. Interesting.

  • Joe's "models and limousines" line was an ad-lib, but most of the scenes with an ad-libbed feel were actually scripted.

  • It's hard to see, but when Billy and Joe are talking when they think they're "off camera" and Billy makes Joe promise that if they make a go of this it'll be about the music and Joe will leave off the coke, Joe shifts something from one hand to his pocket. It's a gun. How long has he had it? What does he plan to use it for? Who does he plan to use it for? All pretty interesting questions.

  • The radio station interview. Why would Billy tell the interviewer he's back in with Jenifur while off air and then refuse to talk about it? Would he really trust Bruce with this information? Was he going to tell Joe himself? When? Does the scene work? Why? Why not?

  • The acid trip sequence - stuffed full of foreshadowing, weirdness, frilly shirts, shiny trousers, the aforementioned knife-licking and a stunt goat. It also begs the question of, given the "documentary" format of the film, what exactly we're supposed to be seeing. An artifact of editing based on Bruce's own trip? Or have we just slipped out of documentary mode for a little while? In the aftermath the next morning (Pipefitter: "I killed a fucking goat.") Joe's mentor Bucky disowns him. It's a pivotal scene - Joe has sacrificed his own idol in his scheme to regain The Old Days and Billy. The next night he "kills" Bucky by announcing his death on stage.

Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?

Poll #1212637 Hard Core Logo

Overall rating:

The Best Canadian Film Ever? (says George Stroumboulopoulos, and I agree!)
Good but flawed.
Oh dear.


No violence at all (the characters pet kittens and sing about rainbows instead!)
Almost none.
Some violence (of the punching variety).
A lot of violence (of the emotional kind).
Dude. Bloodbath.


It's a laugh riot!
Plenty - if you're inclined to the darker kind of humour.
Some moments here and there - funny and sad in the same moment.
Very little.
None whatsoever, i didn't crack a smile.

Sexual content:

Subtextually speaking? Oh god, yes.
A fair amount alluded to if not on screen. Also everyone says "fuck" four times a minute.
Some. Billy's arms are definitely sexual. Rowr.
It is probable sex exists in this universe but you would hardly know it.
Totally devoid of sex (and sexiness).

Sexual violence:

None (Unreliable Narrator//the writer's opinion does not hold supreme//"It's all fake"?)
Some implied (see: Noel Baker in Hard Core Roadshow & in the commentary track for the second DVD release).
Quite a lot.

Billy Tallent
Poll #1212638 Billy Tallent


Evidence of angelic character (put up with Joe for years).
A good guy. Hey, he gave Pipe his per diems, right?
A normal guy. For a rock musician.
No so nice really. Kind of shallow.
Serial killer. (The guitarist thing is just a cover. He has another axe…)

How many people does he kill?

Audiences: slain!


A model of sanity and balance.
Almost not crazy, but sometimes makes some strange choices.
Maybe slightly crazy.
More than a little off centre
Very very crazy. Possibly beyond the help of John's meds.


Blue-white like an O class star. Sign me up for groupie duties. (Nnnrgh.)
Oh yeah. I'd hit that. And lick the sweat of his biceps.
He's pretty. If you like that kind of thing. You know, the lean skinny sweaty sexy rock star thing.
I was totally distracted by the guy with the mohawk. What were we talking about again?


Totally (Dysfunctional) Boyfriends.
Whatever he does the rest of the time, he's clearly queer for Joe. I can produce screencaps and quotes to support my thesis!
A convincing case could be made for bisexuality here.
There are enough cracks in the heterosexual façade to make interpretation flexible.
John Wayne with a guitar.

Does he die?

You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Do you have a note from your mother? Well, then: (highlight to read)

::Billy definitely makes it out alive.::


Take One (Ken Anderlini, Autumn 1996)

The comparisons between Spinal Tap and Bruce McDonald's latest feature, Hard Core Logo are inevitable. The leading duo in the band, Joe Dick (played by Hugh Dillon) and Billy Tallent (Keith Callum Rennie), even include the film Spinal Tap in a game of "Name the Cool Movie." McDonald calls the film Spinal Tap's "mean little brother" and suggests that "they would make a nice double bill." Unlike the older brother, however, there is a minimum amount of finger pointing, satire or parody in McDonald's film of a legendary West Coast punk band reuniting for a benefit concert. The story of one last Western Canadian tour is, instead, a melodrama full of cinematic poetry and humour. McDonald's film veers from Rob Reiner's mock documentary by allowing us moments in which we are pulled from the fiction to marvel at its realism, only to be sutured back into the narrative.

McDonald says Hard Core Logo is "a bit of a dance between the logic of documentary and narrative." The conventions of documentary are used by McDonald and the actors to tell a story of remarkable complexity and texture about the dissolution of a punk rock band. While regularly and humorously self-reflective, the performances and the story are engagingly real and truthful. Hugh Dillon, who for the past five years has been the lead singer for the blues-rock band The Headstones, suggests that the film is a "fairly realistic look at the rock `n' roll genre, without the glitz and the hype." It is a film about a band that doesn't make it, or as McDonald sees it, the story of "working heroes, what it is like for 90 per cent of the bands." There are no limos or Leer jets, just rusting buses, closed venues and sex workers who pocket the money meant for the hotel bill.

When McDonald was given Michael Turner's 1993 collection of poems about a fictional rock band, Hard Core Logo, he was attracted less by its reflection of the 1970s politicized Vancouver punk scene of bands like DOA, Art Bergman or the Modernettes, and more by the story of growing up and growing apart. The political context from which Hard Core Logo presumably emerges, is played out in the Rock Against Guns benefit tour which Dick organizes to reunite the band, long disbanded, and help his musical idol Bucky Haight (a bitter Iggy Pop look-a-like masterfully played by Julian Richings), who has been "shot" by a psycho fan on his farm in Saskatchewan. Filmmaker Bruce McDonald and his small crew have been hired to film this reunion tour.

Screenwriter Noel S. Baker, with ample creative consulting from McDonald, Dillon and Rennie, has fashioned a buddy film not afraid to be a love story. McDonald says he was interested in the story of the two men, "friends from age 13, who have done pretty much everything together. What happens when this has to end? I was more interested in the notion of the reunion of these two, after years apart, and it didn't matter if it was punk, per se." But punk it is, and although this may not be the definitive DOA documentary, there is enough spitting, urinating, drinking, drugs and "fuck yous" to go around. Hard Core Logo's touring anthem is a catchy, passionate, tongue-in-cheek number, "Who the hell do you think you are?" and the Ramones' "Touring" is the film's theme song. Bruce McDonald has produced a definitive 30-something look at growing up and leaving the past behind. The music is hot and the drama is likely to strike a few chords in anyone who ran to the record store for the arrival of "Never Mind the Bullocks" by the Sex Pistols. With a good thrash guitar, neither a band nor a road movie can go wrong.

Like the band, the film has an edge and shifts between concert footage, interviews, landscapes and acid trips. The film's revision of Turner's ending came out of creative collaboration. Rewrites were frequent on set and many of Joe and Billy's finest moments were added by Rennie and Dillon. Rennie, who is proving himself to be the 30-something punk James Dean (or is it Montgomery Clift?) of the Canadian independent film scene, conjures up references to Tom Sawyer to explain McDonald's methods: "Bruce's wisdom is in painting the fence and getting other people to do the work. When you are working with Bruce, you are working towards the same goal. Bruce would listen. He's done enough work to know that it is not about dick size."

"After three movies, I've figured out how film works, and I feel comfortable with the medium," says McDonald. "It was fun to get back to a kind of film school energy and play a little bit more. I could pay attention to the moment because I was comfortable with the process." McDonald compares the experience of the film to forgetting the rules after the more classical form of Dance Me Outside. "It was as if we wiped the slate clean and pretended we didn't know." The film's documentary style and reliance on hand-held cameras encouraged and inspired the performers to go all the way. Rennie prepared for his role by touring with Dillon and The Headstones. "There was something very real because of the documentary style," he says. "We didn't want it to look really clean. It was looser, but had to be really focused. We were shooting over a short time and had to move through quicker. It was very loose."

This surface looseness, however, covers an intense family melodrama worthy of Douglas Sirk or Rainer Werner Fassbinder. This band has chemistry and the intervention of McDonald and his film crew sets the roller coaster ride in motion. This is a complex film, made all the more so by use of the AVID system to explore digital non-linear video. "This helped in the transitions and choices," says McDonald. "It added to the fabric because you could preview things almost immediately and see how they worked."

The film succeeds in heightening the romantic involvement between Joe and Bill without the sex. Within the tradition of the buddy movie, the film is implicitly homoerotic, an element which complicates the drama between the protagonists. The intensity and intimacy of the relationship established between two life-long friends leads the film away from mock ducumentary to a love story between Joe and Billy. Rennie and Dillon say they bonded around a similar artistic and generational experience. They both were so fascinated with each other's worlds that they developed a real, mutual and deep respect for one another.

Not surprising for what one might call a "homosocial" drama, the band is frequently faced by threats to the sanctity of the family unit in the form of Jenifur, a band in Los Angeles which promises money and success to Billy. With male sexual politics abounding in the film, Jenifur's pulling the buddies apart is loaded with questions of success, intimacy, trust, growing up and homosexuality. In Regina, a college newspaper reporter is interviewing Billy, discussing his contract with Jenifur. Joe enters and Billy quickly changes topics. The reporter engages Joe about Hard Core Logo, but to no avail. She confronts him: "It is said that you two fight like some tanked-up white trash married couple in a trailer park." Joe responds: "Well, some of that is true, but that's what makes our music and our art great." Billy interjects: "I suffer for his art." To which Joe adds: "That's what keeps you honest." The reporter is uncomfortable and pipes in, "So, Mr. Dick does Hard Core Logo have a future?" Joe tells her, "Yes it does. Now, can you do me a favour? Can you fuck off?"

McDonald suggests that the film "pulls the rug from under the male bravado, poser thing." In doing so, it offers a buddy film in which the homoeroticism or at least the "homosocial" of male relationships becomes visible. Hard Core Logo is a hardcore deconstruction of masculinity. Dillon suggests, "You can read anything you want into it. However one reads the film, there is enough of a suggestion of a sexual relationship between Billy and Joe that there are cracks in the straight macho facade.

COPYRIGHT 1996 Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Salon (Andrew O'Hehir, November 1998)

Since it's a mock documentary about a semilegendary Canadian punk band on the comeback trail, Bruce McDonald's remarkable "Hard Core Logo" is already being viewed as the 1977 generation's answer to "This Is Spinal Tap," a film whose immense popularity long ago overwhelmed whatever ironic bite it may once have had. But while "Spinal Tap" was essentially an affectionate spoof aimed at the elephantine pomposity of mid-'70s rock, "Hard Core Logo," as befits its subject and settings, is a darker and more acrid work. Perhaps because the particular brand of macho punk rebellion it parodies took itself so seriously and was so fatally compromised, McDonald's movie (adapted by screenwriter Noel S. Baker from a novel by Michael Turner) is in the end considerably closer to tragedy than farce.

"Hard Core Logo" is more than a clever film, although it certainly is that. It's also a visually exciting and surprisingly affecting one. The central conflict between front man Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) and guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie), inseparable boyhood friends (à la Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) who have grown up into a growling punk ideologue and a would-be pop star, respectively (à la Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of the Clash), is of course the stuff of rock 'n' roll archetype. But it has rarely, if ever, been portrayed so convincingly -- you know the whole time that the reunion of the boorish, overbearing, yet undeniably charismatic Joe and the sweet-tempered, profoundly passive-aggressive Billy can only end badly, but completely against your better judgement, you like these guys and want things to work out for them somehow.

If you spent as much time as I did pursuing the so-called alternative culture of the late '70s and early '80s, you'll find in the itchy, jittery, vérité-style images of "Hard Core Logo" a startlingly accurate reminder of all those long, dreary nights when you took bad drugs, put on that bad leather jacket and tried to look tough in some freezing (or perhaps sweltering) former Chinese restaurant while a handful of assholes with guitars staggered around a tiny stage drinking Yukon Jack from the bottle and calling you names. I can't think of a movie that more effectively captures the low-rent alt-rock lifestyle of those storied pre-Nirvana days: the endless hangovers, chain smoking, fluorescent-lit diners and long, empty van rides, not to mention the constant macho strutting and posturing and a level of matter-of-course sexism otherwise only encountered on Fraternity Row. And of course this was all not simply in the service of art (which is a bad enough reason) -- it was political.

But "Hard Core Logo" also captures something deeper and more ineffable than the realistic texture of punk existence. Most of us gradually, and perhaps painfully, had to accept that our revolution was to be no more successful than that of the preceding hippie generation we claimed to despise, and that the evil corporate society -- to the extent it existed at all -- had happily absorbed everything we could throw at it and would swallow us and all our surviving friends in due course. If we were lucky, we got out without becoming neocons or born-again Christians, and we can look back on those nights with more fondness than chagrin, remembering the intoxicating sense of community we temporarily forged. From Shelley and Rimbaud to Kurt Cobain and Joe Dick, however, some young soul rebels have been unable to face the moment when their cherished identities as revolutionary wastrels begin to seem ridiculous, when their fans, friends and colleagues begin to drift away into bourgeois adulthood.

Supposedly the most famous punk band ever to emerge from Vancouver, Hard Core Logo seem to be a composite of many dubious musical units of their era. Along with that undeniable hint of the Clash (what exactly are Strummer and Jones doing these days?), there's a heavy dose of the West Coast anarchist hardcore scene centered on bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, which often blended anti-imperialist rhetoric with crass pussyhounding: The HCL "discography" -- published in a hilarious faux-zine handed out as the press kit -- includes both the EP "U.S. Out of North America" and the song "Blondes Have More Cum." And there are almost certainly traces of a real Vancouver band called 54/40, underground darlings of the early '80s who released one major-label album before disappearing.

Hard Core Logo's 13-year career screeched to a halt in 1991, after eight indie records and 1,000-plus shows, when be-Mohawked Joe pissed in the Sire Records president's drink during a New York gig. Joe has bummed around Vancouver for five years while babe-magnet Billy has fruitlessly sucked up to the L.A. corporate rock machine. Bass player John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson), a literary-minded former mental patient, and bearlike drummer Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson) have retreated into more or less normal lives, but Joe isn't content to leave them there. His rock mentor, an aging punk pioneer named Bucky Haight -- a rock recluse in the vein of Syd Barrett and Alex Chilton -- has reportedly been shot in Saskatchewan, losing one or perhaps two legs, and Joe convinces the other Hard Cores to reunite for a one-night Rock Against Guns benefit in a Vancouver ballroom. (In the time-honored mockumentary tradition, the producers convinced DOA and other genuine West Coast punk bands to play alongside the spurious HCL, and even elicited a cameo from Joey Ramone.)

When the concert is a tremendous success, Joe convinces Billy and the gang to hit the road for a five-city swing through western Canada. While I can't say that the Hard Core Logo brand of blues-inflected thrash does a lot for me, their live shows in the film are completely plausible and professional, and they definitely rock. For Joe this tour reunites him with the only partner who ever mattered to him; for Billy it's a momentary detour on the road to the guitar-shaped pool in Beverly Hills. "There's different ways of looking at this," Joe muses to the camera during a rest stop. (McDonald actually becomes a character in his own film, since the fiction is that he's tagging along to record the tour.) "Billy wants the models and limousines; I'm happy with hookers and taxicabs."

In a series of arresting and increasingly hallucinatory vignettes on the road from Calgary to Regina to Winnipeg to Saskatoon, things go from merely pathetic to truly desperate: Joe starts doing so much blow he doesn't sleep, Billy negotiates with a trendoid L.A. pop band called Jenifur (who are featured on the cover of Spin) behind Joe's back, John loses his medication and begins to melt down and even the unflappable Pipefitter nearly breaks his leg falling through a hole in the van's floor. Clubs close down while the band is en route, a pair of Joe's hookers steal their money and they arrive at Bucky Haight's farm to discover that the former leader of the seminal San Francisco punk band Nazis in the White House is, mysteriously, up and walking on two legs.

Bucky convinces the visiting Hard Cores to ingest some powerful acid, and it's at this point especially that "Hard Core Logo" breaks free of burlesque. McDonald's representation of the acid trip at once parodies a movie convention (seen at its most ludicrous in Oliver Stone's "The Doors") and captures the psychotropic state in vivid, original detail. As McDonald and his collaborators -- most of them veterans of the Canadian punk scene -- make abundantly clear in this memorable film, the adolescent dream of rebellion that fueled bands like Hard Core Logo retains a powerful allure. But in that state of dazed post-LSD lucidity, as the tour spirals to a disastrous conclusion in Edmonton, Joe and Billy begin to see themselves (and their complicated, passionate relationship) with awful clarity. They are men nearing middle age who have thrown away their lives on a boyhood fantasy; if they can't free themselves from it, it will devour them.

If you are in any way interested in the writing and making of Hard Core Logo (or indeed, in the struggles of an independent screenwriter and the difficulties inherent in making films outside the Holywood system) you definitely want to beg, borrow or steal a copy of the out-of-print and sometimes hard-to-find Hard Core Roadshow by Noel Baker. (At the time of writing amazon.ca, .com and co.uk list it as available through marketplace sellers, at prices ranging from the reasonable to the slightly terrifying). Excerpts of the sections specifically relating to Callum Keith Rennie and Hugh Dillon can be found here, transcribed by Our Gracious Maintainer c_regalis

All the pictures in this post are from jcjoeyfreak's exceptional and extensive screencap gallery.

The trailer on youtube:

Some meta (in no particular order):

Billy-centric meta post & discussion in brooklinegirl's journal

More Billy-specific stuff from dayse

2006 con_txt panel notes: Their Love Is So Messed Up: Joe Dick and Billy Tallent - brooklinegirl (with bonus collection of links to more HCL meta at the end of the post)

streetspirit18's take on Billy, Joe and The Music

Thoughts after viewing with non-fannish types - china_shop

thoughts from strangecobwebs

Essay: In Acid Veritas by rubberbutton

Some fic & fic recs (again, in no particular order):




Shrift's HCL archive

salieri(troyswann)'s Hard Core Logo fic

brooklinegirl's Hard Core Logo fic

sageness's Hard Core Logo fic

Speranza's stuff is here (scroll down some).

china_shop has written two Hard Core Logo stories

as has katallison

It's about love. And betrayal. And knife-licking.

one by brynnmck here (and some delicious crack here)

polyamorous recommendations

brooklinegirl's HCL recs

There are various C6D crossovers out there, including several with due South - some of them can be found via the links above, and there's also isiscolo's Out of Exile (HCL/Wilby Wonderful). I haven't been able to track down all of them though, so I'll add anything linked in comments to the post.

kelliem Northern Comfort (due South/HCL)
kelliem & aukestrel Shadows Fade (HCL/Tales of the City)
verushka70 Don't Look Straight At It (HCL/due South)

umbo - Homicide/HCL crossovers


The movie is is available through amazon (American flavour), amazon (UK flavour), amazon (Canadian flavour/flavor) and more than likely from other less behemothic online retailers too.

Also available:

Michael Turner's poetry collection/novel, Hard Core Logo, from all the usual internet booksellers (and, I assume, meatspace ones too).

The soundtrack. I recommend this. A lot.

(A "tribute album" featuring "covers" of Hard Core Logo songs was released before the soundtrack album itself, but is currently unavailable to buy.)

Adds: also I forgot to mention Portrait of a Thousand Punks: Hard Core Logo, a graphic novel "cover version" by Nick Craine.

At this point, you do it for love:

This is a Public Service Announcement: if you are reading this, and for some reason you have not seen this film?


No, really. Go on, we'll wait. It's only 90 minutes - but what a fuckin' 90 minutes. The thing is, it doesn't matter if you hate punk. It doesn't matter if you aren't interested in music. It doesn't even matter if you dislike spitting and have an aversion to bad language. Well, not much, anyway. This is still a fantastic film. Yes, it's upsetting, depressing and raw, and the ending is -- not something you want to be spoiled for. But it sucks you in, involves you totally - the performances are brilliant, nuanced, honest and compelling - and leaves you reeling after it punches you in the emotional guts. And yet, it is still often funny and fun. The chemistry between Callum Keith Rennie and Hugh Dillon is crackling, the visuals rock in all senses of the word - and not just because Billy Tallent is really quite extraordinarily attractive - and the whole is layered and interesting and repays repeated viewings. (Especially if those viewings involve fangirls. I am just saying.)

Billy is a slippery one, character wise. He's simple yet complex, passive-aggressive (oh, SO passive aggressive!) and really, really difficult to read. Or at least - that's my take in him. This week. Sometimes it seems like there are almost as many interpretations of Billy's character as there are viewers of the movie - if you dig into some of the discussions linked above, you'll see that even smart people find him hard to pin down. Repeated viewings often raise more questions than they answer - which is another reason i would urge those of you who haven't to See This Movie. It's clever, it's funny, it's bleak, it has all the dysfunctional homosocial/homoerotic subtext your heart could possibly desire, the music is great (if you like that sort of thing), and every single time I watch it it kind of breaks my heart.

Fucked up co-dependent aging Canadian punk rockers on an odyssey of non-self-discovery. What more could you want from a film?

PSA#2: Hard Core Logo is increasingly recognised as a gateway drug to Hugh Dillon, AKA "the Hugh Flu". Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to c_regalis for being UNBELIEVABLY PATIENT as I failed to post this on time and then got later and later and later. And then some extra later. (ETA: and also for her help and advice on early drafts, which I somehow failed to mention.) Also to kanzenhanzai and helleboredoll for poking my brain with pointy sticks when I begged them to. Needless to say, any and all suckage remains entirely my own. Like the substitution of "of" for "off" in the second to last poll question. D'oh.
Tags: .genre: movie post, actor: hugh dillon, actor: molly parker, callum quotient: 90%, director: bruce mcdonald, film: hard core logo, year: 1996
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