17 December 2010

"Confessions of a Superhero"

Confessions of a Superhero
A Documentary by Matt Ogens
I Check Movies

There's something about staying up entirely too late that lends itself to watching indie documentaries.  Maybe it's that such features rarely disrupt the serenity of a quiet home.  Whatever the reason, I've had this in my Netflix Watch Instantly queue for quite a while now and finally broke down and streamed it this morning.  I was so caught up in it I just had to live tweet the viewing.

Take the struggling-in-L.A. theme of Swingers and the unsettling fanaticism of Trekkies and you've got an idea what to expect with Confessions of a Superhero.  Director Matt Ogens puts the spotlight on four of the folks who go out each day in costume on Hollywood Boulevard, hustling for tips from tourists in exchange for posing for photos.  At face value, the premise sounds like a Conan O'Brien segment.  What Ogens has done, though, is look beyond the punchline.

Christopher Dennis is a former junkie with an obsession for Superman.  Maxwell Allen is a guy with a striking resemblance to George Clooney and a disconcerting bravado.  Joe McQueen is a low key guy who doesn't get much screen time (and most of it is spent behind the mask of his Hulk costume), but his frank discussion about years spent homeless is genuinely moving.  That he has a smile at all, let alone optimism, is truly inspiring.  Jennifer Gehrt is a charming young woman who didn't fit into her small town Tennessean home and came to L.A. to entertain people.  It might be predictable that a marriage begun on a whim in Vegas would falter, but it's still upsetting to see the strain on the young couple.

Allen is the kind of macho show-off we all know and do our best to endure.  He's got a temper problem and is quick to present himself as having a shady past, working for a Texan mobster and name-dropping special forces training.  His own wife goes on record as saying you can dismiss about 50% of anything the guy says.  The other three, though, are very sympathetic and I found myself rooting for them all (even if Dennis clearly has some delusions).

The movie can be streamed from Netflix, and it had a small DVD run but that seems to have concluded.  The link from the official movie website to purchase the DVD brings up a message about how the sales site no longer exists, but hopefully this will go back into print soon.  Go on and stream it.  I'm putting it directly into the "Outstanding" category of movies I've seen this year.

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