Before it gets ridiculously late (instead of just goofily so, which is where we may be falling with this) to be posting anything more on SXSW, we wanted to get a few other things out there:
"Confessions of a Superhero": In Christopher Dennis, director Matt Ogens has found a doc subject almost too good to be true â€” the boyishly handsome (if tattered around the edges) Dennis makes his living by donning a Superman suit, painstakingly twisting his hair into a Christopher Reeve curl on his forehead, and heading out to Hollywood Boulevard to pose in photos with tourists for tips. He’s a Superman obsessive â€” the apartment he shares with his enraptured girlfriend is packed with merchandise and memorabilia â€” who, as another sidewalk superhero points out, is suffocating in his own fixation, his life curtailed by his unhinged dedication. None of film’s the other subjects â€” the once homeless man who dons a full foam suit to play the Hulk, the buxom former homecoming queen who dresses as Wonder Woman, the short-tempered guy who does Batman â€” are ever as interesting, though they’re all a little tragic and often seriously lacking in self-awareness, rattling around the bottom rungs of the entertainment industry and dreaming big dreams. Ogens treats his subjects gently, even when they display a troubling inability to separate fact from fiction, but this means that promising threads, like Dennis’ perhaps dubious claim that he’s the son of actress of Sandy Dennis, are allowed to drop. The aggressively moody doc sometimes hangs its themes a little heavily, but it’s compelling, and the still photographs that pepper the interviews and observational footage are poignant and strikingly memorable.
"Confessions of a Superhero" currently has no theatrical distribution.
"Steal a Pencil for Me": Oscar-nominated director MichÃ¨le Ohayon‘s fourth feature-length documentary is a love story set in a concentration camp. The romance of Jaap Polak and Ina Soep bloomed during their stints together at Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, documented in the letters they smuggled to each other â€” Jaap was married at the time, and his wife was with him at the camps. The horrors of the Holocaust have been chronicled in so many films that we’ve started avoiding them because we’re uncomfortable with the impassivity you start to develop â€” nothing can make you picture the flames of hell that surely await you quite like fighting boredom during a Holocaust film. Jaap, now in his 90s, and Ina are a charming, mischievous couple, and "Steal a Pencil for Me" offers a novel angle on a terrible time, but it’s an only fitfully engaging film that relies heavily on a florid readings of the letters. Better are the film’s scattered moments of improbable levity, as when Ina tells her daughter about how, even at Bergen-Belsen, she used to wear rollers every night, because while they didn’t get many opportunities to wash their hair, it might as well fall nicely.
"Steal a Pencil for Me" currently has no theatrical distribution.
"Fish Kill Flea": Co-directed by Aaron Hillis, who’s both a friend of ours and a contributor to the IFC News website, "Fish Kill Flea" is a charming and bittersweet portrait of a large flea market that’s settled into a dead mall in upstart New York. With a tip of the hat to "Gates of Heaven," the unnarrated doc allows its subject to guide its progress, its camera winding through the cluttered aisles of the flea market and, eventually, on an evocative tour through the wreckage of the mall itself. On the way, the filmmakers capture some marvelously observed moments â€” an impromptu performance of the theme from "Doctor Zhivago" on a keyboard, a sullen portrait with the Easter Bunny â€” but the heart of the film ultimately lies in its interviews with the sellers. One has recruited her mother to assist her in selling pot paraphernalia; another matter-of-factly displays his wares, which consist mainly of Nazi and concentration camp memorabilia. The film takes all of these people in with scarcely a wink and nary a smirk, even when one vendor shares, apparently unprompted, the story of his encounter with Bigfoot.
"Fish Kill Flea" currently has no theatrical distribution.
"Everything’s Gone Green": Novelist Douglas Coupland‘s original screenplay debut treads into expected territory of 20-something malaise. It’s been over 15 years since Coupland’s first and still most significant cultural contribution, "Generation X," and his young characters are no longer hiding from society in the desert, they’re gamely slogging along in quirky jobs and trying to live happy, ethical lives. In Coupland’s view, the weight of material acquisitions makes that an impossibility, and likable lead Paulo Costanzo‘s character Ryan lands a job at the national lottery, where he learns this lesson by chronicling the initial exhilaration and eventual ruin met with by the winners â€” not that this stops him from cashing in when an opportunity to make some illicit extra dough comes around. "Everything’s Gone Green" introduces some new Coupland neologisms (a "seethrough" = a building of sleek condos owned by Asian investors who don’t live in them), but doesn’t offer the insights one would hope; the film has the feel of a mid-90s throwback, which is tough in a festival offering multiple and very up-to-date perspectives on young adult angst. It is, however, rampantly and refreshingly Canadian, and one of the few films we can think of in which Vancouver plays itself.
"Everything’s Gone Green" will be released by First Independent Pictures on April 20th.