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Hollywoodland
DVD disk
02.13.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Hollywoodland order
Director:
Allen Coulter

Actors:
Ben Affleck
Adrian Brody
Diane Lane

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Hollywoodland is the true/fictional/who knows account of George "Superman" Reeves' (Ben Affleck) suicide...or is that murder? Louis Simo (Adrian Brody) becomes entangled in a web of Los Angeles corruption and secrets to find out the truth.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The clues to the crime are presented. Some lay on a bloodied mattress, others under a misplaced rug, maybe even hidden in haunting 8mm footage of “Superman.”

Allen Coulter’s (HBO’s The Sopranos and Sex and the City) Hollywoodland gives what we’d expect going in; a presumptuous yet intriguing look at everyone’s motives of possible murder in a “What if?” fashion. Given this, this is a rather safe picture featuring gutsy characters.

Adrian Brody, as detective Louis Simo, excels over the entire cast with a spectacular return to form after struggling to find a suiting role post-The Pianist. Diane Lane is superb as the “mad about the boy” lover of George Reeves, and unfaithful wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins).

But the disappointment comes in the form of Ben Affleck, who has recently been forcing fans into losing faith in his talents. They’re there, I guess, but unused. He seems to be delivering nothing more than a presumed imitation of the tragic George Reeves.

Reeves’ and Simo’s lives parallel throughout the entirety of Hollywoodland. The film follows Simo’s obsession with the fresh case, with flashbacks of the troubled Superman star. Their stories and lives, similar yet unfamiliar, are merely a week apart on the timeline, and are both shrouded in an atmospheric mystery. But the correspondence between the two soul-seeking men never develops as clearly as Coulter aimed, as we are constantly guessing whether most similarities were the filmmaker’s intention or pure coincidence.

Hollywoodland never seems to lift off the ground, instead opting to keep its boots in the corrupt streets of LA. But even so, Hollywoodland is a very involving film, allowing us to tag along with Simo.

This is an old-fashioned mystery plenty loose ends. But what did you expect? This is Hollywoodland.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with director Allen Coulter: A more serious tone takes us through the making of Hollywoodland. Very insightful, and goes more into the similarities of George Reeves and Louis Simo. Worth a listen.

Re-Creating Old Hollywood (6:54) is fairly slim on what it promises. There’s some costume design and set location discussion, but the cast/crew focuses a bit much on the film’s theme than it does on recreating old Hollywood.

Behind the Headlines (7:22): Behind the scenes with the cast and crew, focusing on the themes, analysis, and how everyone accomplished their research for their characters. Standard, but good.

Hollywood Then & Now (7:57) is just what it sounds like: a comparison of the 1950s Hollywood and the Hollyweird of today. The cast/crew weigh in on everything from strange accents and pollution to contracts and the fear of television, the topics are quite interesting. Definitely worth a look.

And a little over 5 minutes of Deleted Scenes that don’t add too much to the story and really aren’t that interesting. But if you’ve got 5 minutes to spare after the film, you might want to see these.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A damn fine neo-noir that is alot better than you might be expecting. While the performances are hit-or-miss, the story is intriguing enough to drag us into the lives of the characters.
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