Posted by: steveonfilm | April 22, 2010

Movie Review: Hollywoodland

Release Date: September 8, 2006

Writing: Paul Bernbaum

Director: Allen Coulter

Staring:
Adrien Brody as Louis Simo
Diane Lane as Toni Mannix
Ben Affleck as George Reeves
Bob Hoskins as Eddie Mannix
Robin Tunney as Leonore Lemmon

Academy Awards:
Won
N/A

Nominated
N/A

Los Angeles. June 16, 1959. The day Superman died. Or at least, the day George Reeves, an actor who played him, died. The death was an apparent self inflicted gunshot to the head. Suicide. Though, some would argue that foul play was involved. And one private investigator was determined to figure out which side was right.

That’s your premise for “Hollywoodland.” The story unfolds as we follow Louis Simo (Brody) investigating the death of actor George Reeves (Affleck). But as Simo progresses in his investigation, we’re greeted with flashbacks of Reeve’s life as he progresses from meeting Toni Mannix (Lane), to taking the part of Superman, his inability to land any other significant acting rolls, and finally to his death several years later.

Like I said in my preview, if you’re a fan of old school private eye movies, this flick is right up your alley. You’ve got a plethora of nuggets to chew on. Hollywood, and the business in general, is painted with a wide brush that compares closer to organized crime than the business where dreams come true. You get to see some really seedy undersides of how the studio system dominated people, and basically treated them as commodities. Just some really great stuff.

Now, the story doesn’t hit it out of the park. And there are some times when things are a little too vague, and I had to pause and re-listen to a conversation again to make sure I understood what was getting laid out. Though, more often than not, it moves along smoothly, and the events that unfold are compelling and interesting to watch.

The acting is top notch. I really thought everyone hit it out of the park. Brody is just great. Affleck is charming, and makes me wonder where his career would be now had he made some other choices in the last decade. And Diane Lane… man, let me tell you, she’s amazing in this one. From the sultry cougar who pulls Reeves into her little “kept man” relationship, to the crazy woman who can’t let him go, she’s just top notch all the way out. Hoskins’s part is smaller, as is Robin Tunney, but both hit their marks well, and bring well founded characters into their place as the story moves along. Hoskins in particular has one really intense scene that was both creepy and awesome at the same time.

If you enjoy watching the “golden era” of Hollywood, the set design for this movie is great. It’s right up there with L.A. Confidential. The colors are warm and it seems like the sun is constantly setting. When you think classic Hollywood, the pictures this film paints is exactly what pops into your head.

I really enjoyed the film, and suggest you check it out if you haven’t already.

-Steve

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