In anticipation of the April 13 release of Hard Core Logo II, TIFF’s Canadian Open Vault will feature a series of screenings (April 6 – 12) of a new 35mm print of Bruce McDonald’s cult 1996 original, Hard Core Logo. McDonald’s mockumentary, based on a book by Michael Turner, is routinely cited as a Can-con classic, and boasts none other than Quentin Tarantino among its many ardent fans. In fact, the Pulp Fiction director actually acquired U.S. distribution rights for the film under his former Miramax sub-label, Rolling Thunder Pictures.
A searingly nihilistic pseudo-documentary in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap—McDonald himself once referred to the film as “Spinal Tap‘s mean little brother”—Hard Core Logo follows the eponymous, faux-legendary Vancouver punk outfit on an ill-fated five-city reunion tour of western Canada. Having literally pissed away a chance at the big time, charismatic but self-destructive frontman Joe Dick (a note-perfect Hugh Dillon, of real-life rock act The Headstones) hopes to convince guitarist and childhood best friend Billy Talent (Callum Keith Rennie—and yes, that’s where the Mississauga punk band got the name) to rejoin the band on a permanent basis. Talent, however, is poised to sign a lucrative deal with a major U.S. label, straining the duo’s already volatile relationship.
Along for the ride are schizophrenic bassist John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson) and dimwitted drummer Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson), who balance Dick and Talent’s snarling love/hate dynamic with the sort of satirical levity that characterized Spinal Tap. Hard Core Logo is both a raucous, debauched punk-rock road trip, and a poignant portrait of frustrated artistic ambition. Add to that a sense of grimy authenticity, inspired performances, and McDonald’s assured, stylish direction, and it’s little wonder several critics have labelled it one of the best rock ‘n’ roll movies ever made.