Salon.com Reviews Confessions

Salon.com Movie Review

Arts & Entertainment

BEYOND THE MULTIPLEX
By Andrew O’Heir

Caped crusaders on the couch in “Confessions of a Superhero

I vastly enjoyed Matt Ogens’ documentary “Confessions of a Superhero” when I caught it last spring at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Texas, but it seemed like one of those winning little festival movies that was just a bit too peculiar for mainstream release. I’m grateful to say that I was wrong, and Ogens’ intimate portrait of four would-be actors who eke out a living by donning superhero costumes and posing for tourist photographs on Hollywood Boulevard may soon be playing near you.

As Ogens’ Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Incredible Hulk readily admit, they’re just panhandlers with funny clothes who make their money by staying, barely, on the right side of the loitering and harassment laws. Batman, in fact, seems like a borderline personality with a scary past and a rage problem, despite his much-commented-upon resemblance to George Clooney. Wonder Woman is a one-time homecoming queen from Tennessee, and the Hulk is an African-American “country boy” from North Carolina who spent four years homeless — and actually gets a pretty big acting break that may get him out of that green suit.

But the heart of the film is Christopher Dennis, the incredibly strange dude who’s spent many years as the boulevard’s Man of Steel. Dennis doesn’t just play Superman, he is monumentally obsessed with Superman and owns one of the world’s premier collections of Superman tchotchkes. By his own account, he’s a former meth addict and the illegitimate son of one-time movie star Sandy Dennis (although her other relatives don’t believe that), and Superman has given him a new lease on life. If you think he’s odd, though, wait till you meet his girlfriend! Lest you fear a freak show, Ogens is never patronizing or condescending. In its own inimitably strange way, “Confessions of a Superhero” is an inspirational tale. (Opens Nov. 2 at the Pioneer Theater in New York and the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, Nov. 16 in Los Angeles and Nov. 21 in Denver. DVD release will follow in January.)

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