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SPECIAL [+ What If]

Director: HAL HABERMAN & JEREMY PASSMORE

U.S.A. • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY STEREO • 90 MIN


A BACK-TO-BASICS SUPERHERO MOVIE? HARD TO IMAGINE SPIDER-MAN OR THE X-MEN WITHOUT THEIR GAZILLIONDOLLAR BUDGETS AND WALL-TO-WALL CGI, BUT THIS ENGAGING FANTASY HAS A GO AT IT ANYWAY.
Meet Les, traffic warden by day—until he signs up for a clinical trial of a new drug, Specioprin Hydrochloride (or ‘Special’ for short), intended to suppress the chemicals in the brain responsible for creating self-doubt. Soon he’s levitating above his sofa, passing through walls, and telepathically attuned to the thoughts of passers-by. As a die-hard comics fan, he naturally gets himself a costume and ventures out into the mean streets to fight for truth and justice, or at least stop some hoodie holding up the all-night grocery store.
Is this guy for real? You’re entitled to ask, especially since leading man Michael Rappaport has thus far played mainly wormy supporting parts. Indeed, first-time writer/director team Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore work considerable comic mileage from the gulf between Les’s perceptions and what the other characters make of his self-styled ‘powers’. With its deadpan wit and lo-fi visuals, the film’s willing to risk being dismissed as some artful curiosity, yet it’s actually a compassionate look at the everyday feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness which have long since spawned the superhero action fantasies from the popular imagination. Rappaport puts his soul into it, takes many a pratfall for his pains, and will almost make you believe a man can fly—if he really, really sets his mind to it. —Trevor Johnston.
PLUS SHORT IRISH FILM WHAT IF?
Director Alan Walsh and writer Columb Farrelly’s award winning short about two struggling stuntmen who decide to write their own script.
2006 • COLOUR • DIGITAL VIDEO • 27 MIN

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