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Hollywoodland (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

“A remarkable achievement. It’s not a conclusive film – but it could ever be? – and it does have its problems – still not sure Brody’s character should’ve been a part of the film, or whether a straight up biopic may have worked better – but it’s an enjoyable and rewarding one”


Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, Adrien Brody, Robin Tunney, Lois Smith, Larry Cedar, Dash Mihok, Molly Parker, Caroline Dhavernas, Kathleen Robertson

A few years back, Ben Affleck thought he was indestructible. He was onto the next film faster than a speeding bullet; the words that tabloids wrote about him were merely bouncing off his chest; and his asking price was soaring towards the firmament. Didn’t take Brainiac to bring him back down to earth though.

Nope; all it took Ben Affleck was a colossal butt, the director of ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, and someone named “Gigli” to remind him he wasn’t Superman – but merely a mortal capable of making worst movies than Andrew Stevens.

Years later, and a dozen flops behind him, Affleck finally has the chance to demonstrate that he’s more than the go-to guy for back-to-back Razzie winners – and a Poker playing Jennifer-loving playboy – with the role of… ah, Superman. And isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think?

Well, that’s a lie. Kinda. Ya see, Affleck’s not actually playing ‘Superman’ – but more so, the man who played The Man of Steel on TV, George Reeves. (Probably better too; you can imagine what they’d say about thirty something Benny Boy taking on the role of tight-wearing Kal-El.) When Hugh Jackman dropped out of the role at the 11th hour, Affleck put his hand way up to let directors know that he was interested. It no doubt took a while to ease their concern – but I’d say he ultimately did.

Affleck’s been given a golden shot here – but it comes with a price. He hasn’t got the lead role. Nope, not at all. In fact, he’s playing third-fiddle to Adrien Brody and Diane Lane. But this Quest for Peace was a good decision – supporting role or not – because it shows us that Affleck does deserve a second chance. If he can take the risk on a small but showy role like this, we can too, right?

“Hollywoodland” isn’t a biopic on George Reeves – explaining why Affleck doesn’t have the lead role – but more so, a morality tale of the easily corrupted Hollywood of yesteryear; and one of the men who found himself stung by Tinseltown’s sharp tail.

When popular 50s TV star George Reeves (Affleck – with fake nose and a few extra pounds), best known for his role on “The Adventures of Superman”, is found dead in his apartment – in what looks like suicide – the Los Angeles Police Department quickly closes the case. Reeves’ mother Helen isn’t so convinced that her son killed himself though, so hires – for $50 a day – private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) to dig deeper. Simo soon ascertains that the torrid affair Reeves had with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the wife of MGM studio executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), might hold the key to the truth. But truth and justice are not so easily found in Hollywood. Simo pursues dangerous and elusive leads in both high and low places and, in trying to turn up the heat, risks getting burned. The detective also uncovers unexpected connections to his own life as the case turns more personal and he learns more about Reeves himself.

First things first. Is Affleck any good here? Well, yes he is. In fact, he’s very good. You believe, for the most part, that he is George Reeves. The actor gets better as the movie progresses too; leaving us with a lasting impression by the time we get our final – haunting – glimpse of Reeves.

But the credit shouldn’t be aimed directly at Affleck, but more so filmmaker Allen Coluter – a TV veteran who has worked on both “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos” – and screenwriter Paul Bernbaum. Without their heavily researched and well-detailed film, the performance wouldn’t have meant anything. It may even have come across as hokey. Coulter especially has gone out of his way to make sure that nearly every element of the film is as well-tuned as a new BMW – the production design, the pacing, the music, the plot, the message, the casting… just sublime. You almost forgive him for his inclusion of the fictional character that Brody plays in the film. (Yep, fictional. The guy didn’t exist. Guess Coulter thought he needed us to see Reeves’ storyline through someone else’s eyes… or something?)

Back I digress; “Hollywoodland” is a remarkable achievement. It’s not a conclusive film – but it could ever be? – and it does have its problems – still not sure Brody’s character should’ve been a part of the film, or whether a straight up biopic may have worked better – but it’s an enjoyable and rewarding one. It’s also one of those ‘Super’ films that’ll stay with you for weeks, maybe even years.

Welcome back, Ben.

Extras on the DVD include an informative commentary by the director; several featurettes – encompassing everything from recreating old Hollywood to the films screenplay; several deleted scenes; and trailers.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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