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Hollywoodland
Hollywoodland
Actors: Steve Adams, Ben Affleck, David Bolt, Adrien Brody, Larry Cedar
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
R     2009

The fact-based mystery of Hollywoodland takes place in 1959, when the death of Adventures of Superman TV star George Reeves cast a pall over the waning days of golden-age Hollywood. As written by Paul Bernbaum, this intrig...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Steve Adams, Ben Affleck, David Bolt, Adrien Brody, Larry Cedar
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2009
Release Year: 2009
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

When Films Collide--A Great Hollywood Story At Odds With An
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 11/02/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"There is a fantastic film within "Hollywoodland"! That film stars Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, both giving superlative performances. As TV Superman George Reeves, Affleck connects with a role that some say mirror his own situation. He's an appealing, handsome actor of limited range who is not generally regarded for having actual talent. And Affleck steps up to the task of inhabiting that persona--he shows the frustration, rage, and longing for respect that comes with being typecast as Superman. Diane Lane plays the wife of a studio exec who fancies Reeves and turns him into her kept "boy." Well, an older woman never looked so good! Lane just seems to get better and better as the years go by. She hits all the right notes in a performance that's wickedly sexy, desperate, charming, and funny--all rolled up into one.

This relationship, her open marriage to Bob Hoskins, his courtship with a golddigger played nicely by Robin Tunney, and the tale of Reeves' struggle in Hollywood--this is all grand entertainment. It's filmed and executed beautifully and is thoroughly fascinating.

Sadly, there is also an average film within "Hollywoodland." That film stars Adrien Brody as a two-bit private detective hired to look into Reeves' apparent suicide. Might it have been more? In addition to the investigation, we get many other glimpses into Brody's life--his strained relationship with his wife and child, his affair with a younger woman, another case that goes terribly wrong, and some backstory about how he ended up on the outskirts of the Hollywood machine. It's all fine, but nothing nearly as intriguing as the Reeves case--and nothing particularly original, either

Sadly, the two aspects never merged cohesively for me. Every time you're drawn into something interesting in Reeves' life--BOOM, the film pulls you out to see some parallel with the detective. Well, ultimately, I just had to say "who cares?" to most of those moments. Brody's relationship with his son, for example, plays prominently. Not enough time is spent with these subplots to actually develop feelings one way or the other--they just serve to shut down the main action. Now I'm not blaming Brody--his performance is fine--all the performances are fine. It's the structure of the film. It just doesn't serve the story well--however talented everyone associated with this production may be.

Part of the film was 5 stars, part was 3 stars. I'd rate the whole venture at about 3 1/2--with regret--because there is a film in here that I would have loved to see. KGHarris, 11/06."
Broken Lives
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Hollywoodland" is everything that the dreadful "The Black Dahlia" isn't: interesting, beautifully acted, intelligent, respectful to it's time and place which in both cases just happens to be Southern California circa 1945-1959. Both concern a death: one perhaps a suicide and the other definitely a murder.
Directed by Alan Coulter with a genuine empathy for his characters sad, sordid lives: a brilliant Ben Affleck as TV Superman George Reeves, a committed though out-of-the-box style performance from the always interesting Adrian Brody as a down-on-his-luck Private Investigator, Louis Simo and the luminous Diane Lane as Reeves paramour and fading beauty Toni Mannix.
Coulter spends a lot of time on the back lives of these three which adds texture and resonance to their film lives and by extension the film. Of particular note is Simo's story: his son, his ex-wife (the terrific Molly Parker), his father or lack thereof. Brody is particularly thoughtful and emotionally open in his scenes with his son. Brody is so good at conveying pages of exposition and dialogue through the iris of the camera by way of his huge expressive eyes.
"Hollywoodland" is terse, compact, humane, beautifully photographed and sensitively produced and scripted. That it comes from humble beginnings only makes Coulter's achievement all the more glorious.
"
Murky and thin, but trying.
ajsteele | 02/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This story of TVs Superman(George Reeves)murder/suicide captures the era perfectly but gets a bit muddled, and seems to stretch the story looking for more. Ben Affleck who I dont care for did a great job as Reeves and made him an interesting person to delve into. Problem is, his life wasnt delved into enough. Their was much jumping around from post to pre death which didnt work well.
The movie was filmed creatively with excellent period surroundings giving it palpable believability. Diane Lane as Toni Manix fit the role perfectly but her scenes seemed staged. It was an interesting watch but it drew very few if any conclusions. I was left with as little information as I knew when I finished watching it. Adrian Brody, who in the past I thought was overrated held his own but was taking on too much to stretch the film. It really deserves an addional half star because it really tried and had some facinating elements to it. Great dialogue sound on the dvd with a good home theatre system. A thin film needing more substance. Nice attempt all around."
Why wasn't this film better?
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 11/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This so-called "fact-based" melodrama about the death of "Superman" actor George Reeves had all the potential in Hollywood to become a blockbuster of monumental proportion. It took an event based on reality from the golden age of Hollywood studios (the action took place during 1959), it added authentic Hollywood scenery and location shooting, and it had a cast of masterful and beautiful stars (Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck as the male leads, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins and wonderfully sinful Robin Tunney in support) blended in a Tinseltown mystery that had all the potential to be the first "Chinatown" of the new millennium. Instead, this movie was a flop and a bore. Why is that?

First, a brief synopsis for those that haven't seen it. TV star George Reeves (Affleck) kills himself, the Los Angeles police declare it a suicide and close the case, Reeves' mother hires private investigator Brody to investigate the case, which she says is a murder, and his investigation leads to a story told in flashback and real time sequences. While at time atmospheric and involving, the storyline has bumps and cliches to overcome.

Brody, probably the most talented actor now in Hollywood, recieves poor direction as the whimsically understated investigator Louis Simo, who just happens to be a divorced father living on the fringe of the P.I. fraternity. His characterization in this film is more cliche than living, breathing three-dimensional person, although he has effective mind sequences late in the film when he concludes, first, the Reeves was inadvertently killed by his lover and, second, that he was murdered and, third, that he did himself in.

Of the remaining stars in the cast, only Hoskins has the potential to approach Brody as an actor. He has a one-dimensional role as a Hollywood big shot and cuckold husband to Lane, who plays Reeves lover and entree to the "Superman" role. Tunney, playing Reeves later lover and fiancee, was convincing in her bad girl role but also monochromatic, pointing out another shortcoming in this film -- unimaginative direction. These actors all did well with their parts as moveable cardboard cutouts while not one particularly distinguished themselves.

Furthermore, the script and pace of the film did little to involve viewers. Instead of building a slow web of deceipt and corruption a al "Chinatown", this script meandered all over the place with far too many side trips. First it was as a mystery; second it was a portrayal of the cliched life of Brody's character; third it was a peek behind the scenes at the way things are done by Hollywood studios; fourth it was a murder msytery involving too many characters and too many subplots that took the viewer away from the main storyline. In one of Simo's subplots, illustrating a failure among many failures in his life, one of his other clients kills his wife, who he'd hired Simo to follow. This side trip -- which took up three scenes in the movie -- added nothing to this film and betrayed its raison d'etre.

I don't know how long it's been since I saw a film that less met my lowered expectations than "Hollywoodland". I'd have to go all the way back to 1980 and "The Formula", where the worst editing in film history wasted the talents of George C. Scott, Marlon Brando and other great actors in another mystery about a timely issue of that day and ours -- the machinations of increasing gasoline prices. So chalk up "Hollywoodland" to the junk heap of films that had classic potential and instead became mediocrities."