Capsule Review – The Last Pogo Jumps Again

by John Davidson for FILMbutton

The first thing I learned while watching The Last Pogo Jumps Again is that most rock and rollers do not in fact burn out, they actually fade away. This lengthy study of the mostly underground and largely forgotten Toronto music scene of the 1970’s has some harsh lessons for the young Johnny Rotten’s of today. In short, that most music careers start and end on a small stage, attended mostly by your friends, and leave you with fond and fading memories of your youth but little in the way of seed money or practical lessons for the real life that awaits them the moment they turn 30.

The film is also an acute cultural snapshot of a brief moment in downtown Toronto history, when a hairdo of pink curls would literally stop a streetcar in its tracks, and where the music scene always had to exist one step ahead of the conservative and overbearing police and judiciary. George Higton of Shades Magazine states “Toronto was always in the process of becoming something, but it never quite got there”. His quote not only accurately described 1970’s Toronto, but in some ways it describes this film too.
The film itself is filled with interesting interviews, mostly of the musicians themselves, but it’s in need of a fresh editing perspective and a stronger narrative. The material about how The Ramones came to town for three shows at The New Yorker Theatre and forever changed the Toronto music landscape was fascinating, but too often the film spends too long lamenting the lost youth of those who enjoyed it all those years ago, and with the fading legacy of a lot of musicians who have clearly had trouble moving on.

All in all, the film highlights a small and unique scene of musicians and clubs that existed briefly in Toronto over 30 years ago, and how that scene has influenced the music of today. It sure looks like they had fun. If the film was 85 minutes long, I would have had a lot more fun too.

The Last Pogo Jumps Again will have its World Premiere at the Canadian Music Week Film Fest on Saturday, March 23rd @ 12:30pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

John Davidson is a huge music & film fan who has produced an independent film and now runs sonaBlast! Records Canada.

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