Alan Brown Superheroes

Alan Brown Superheroes
Quiet and contemplative, with slow, deliberate pacing isn't something that American filmmakers are known for in their work. In fact, aside from Kelly Reichardt's 2008 gem, Wendy & Lucy, it's hard to think of a title that pulled it off successfully since the mid-'90s, when it was cool to be depressed, and directors like Todd Haynes and Lisa Cholodenko were unleashing exceptional art house fare in the form of Safe and High Art, respectively. It tends to be something better handled by the French (Canada and France) and Scandinavians. Unfortunately, Superheroes is further proof of this, mimicking the style, camerawork and extended silences of the genre, but giving little to consider and reflect on, essentially presenting an "issue" and saying nothing noteworthy about it. While exploring the psychological after-effects of war on an injured soldier — portrayed here by Dash Mihok, as a medicated and defeated 30-year-old named Ben Patchett — is entirely relevant, simply watching someone skulk around, looking lugubrious doesn't amount to compelling drama. Writer/director Alan Brown (Book of Love) injects Nick (Spencer Treat Clark), a young documentary filmmaker with daddy issues, into the tale to provide a framework and passive instigator for Ben's trauma and emotional disconnect, having them run off to an isolated cottage where they swim and paint each other's toenails (seriously). Metaphors for psychic connection float around in the form of hidden physical scars revealed at pivotal moments, while on camera confessionals show Ben's defeat in relation to his lack of employability and absent wife and children. Since Nick is just a facile vessel and Ben is little more than a physical performance of conceptual grief and self-loathing, we're left with little more than inappropriate lingering shots of Spencer Treat Clark in various states of undress, slowly getting out of the pool as the camera focuses on provocative areas of his body. This peculiar hinting at homoeroticism juxtaposed with the struggle of an Iraq veteran only adds unintentional humour to a film already struggling for relevance. Included with the DVD is a commentary track with Alan Brown and Dash Mihok, where Brown congratulates himself again, and again, and again. (E1)