Thursday, December 9, 2010

When word of a sequel to the film Hard Core Logo was making the rounds, a common response was: How do you make a sequel after the lead character (“Joe Dick”) has killed himself? Not the first thing that popped into my head, but one that told me a lot about what those who enjoyed the first film expected of the second.

Five minutes into a heavily packed first quarter it is clear that Hard Core Logo 2 is less about Joe Dick than its director, Bruce McDonald, and his attempt to deal with Joe’s suicide. Initially, this involved Bruce taking his family to Hollywood, where he produced a hit TV show called The Pilgrim. But after that blows up, Bruce, now tainted by scandal, flies across the country to begin a documentary on a singer who claims to have channeled Joe’s spirit.

Much of the film is set in rural Saskatchewan, with many of the scenes shot at a place called Danceland, the kind of community music hall one sees less of these days. Danceland is also the site of the singer and her band’s latest recording session, an off-the-floor job that seems more intent on blowing down walls than crafting a decent tune. Overseeing the recording is Joe’s idol, Bucky Haight.

What I enjoyed most about the sequel is that it is less a linear extension of the first film than its parallel. Further to that, some of Bruce’s metaphysical musings, which, at their best, alternate between a Werner Herzog-style director's commentary and an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. As for the ending, it is as shocking as the first, but quieter. Whether it is strong enough to right the film’s at times perplexing opening moments, I’m not sure. But it is a clever ending, much more so than its predecessor.

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