Hollywoodland Movie Review

Who killed Superman?

George Reeves' death remains one of Hollywood's juiciest unsolved mysteries. After years spent clinging to the industry's fringe, the performer shot to stardom in 1952 when he hopped into Superman's red-and-blue tights for a Saturday-morning serial. The role made Reeves an overnight sensation, but also damaged any chances he had of becoming a serious actor.

Off camera, Reeves (Ben Affleck) reportedly wallowed in a directionless affair with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the two-timing wife of MGM executive E.J. Mannix (Bob Hoskins). Seven years after agreeing to play the Man of Steel, an unsatisfied Reeves was discovered shot to death in his Beverly Hills bedroom while his selfish fiancée, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney), and a handful of strangers, partied downstairs.

What happened? Did Mannix have Reeves murdered? Could Lemmon have pulled the trigger? Or did the actor finally give in to his depression and commit suicide? During production, when the movie was titled Truth, Justice and the American Way, director Allen Coulter's modern noir biopic of the late Superman star looked like it was going to try and solve the mystery behind the actor's peculiar death. But the studio changed the title, opting for the generic Hollywoodland, and Coulter switched his focus away from Reeves and onto Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), the two-bit, ambulance-chasing private detective who latched onto Reeves' case.

The decision might have been paid off, save for the fact that Simo's pedestrian troubles are far less interesting than the ones plaguing Reeves. He's separated from his wife (Molly Parker), sleeping with his assistant, and too drunk to notice the emotional damage he's inflicting on his only son. Brody's defiant attitude slices through Coulter's glum, leaden atmosphere. His dull domestic issues aside, Brody proves adept at playing the amoral, borderline-sleazy gumshoe and almost wrings some suspense from Reeves' unsolved murder. It's not unheard of for a movie detective to be more interesting than the corpse he (or she) is investigating. This just isn't one of those times.

It's worth noting Affleck's presence after a self-inflicted exile. The general consensus around Hollywood is that the actor's professional career is dead, done in by a lethal combination of tabloid overexposure (not always his fault) and a string of underperforming duds (almost always his fault). So it's morbidly appropriate that the first time we see the Oscar-winning star in Hollywoodland, he's a bloated, blue corpse resting peacefully on the mortuary's slab.

Things gradually improve for Big Ben. Told in golden-hued reverence, Reeves' flashbacks involve corruption that stretches from the studio system to the front offices of the L.A.P.D. Affleck and Lane are puffed-up and stilted, presenting these figures as if the industry elite never stopped overacting in the '40s. I'm giving Affleck the benefit of the doubt, assuming his stiff turn is because he calculated Reeves' inabilities as a natural performer. Regardless, the Reeves-Mannix affair is bolstered by luscious nostalgia, and I longed for more scenes recounting the day-to-day happenings in America's dream factory.

So rest easy, Bryan Singer. Even though your summer blockbuster took a beating in the press for going over budget, Superman Returns remains the more interesting of the Man of Steel movies released this year.

Try to break this glass with your heat vision, Supe.

Cast & Crew

Director : Allen Coulter

Producer : , Glenn Williamson

Comments

Hollywoodland Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2006

Advertisement

More Adrien Brody

Adrien Brody Is Magic Man, Harry Houdini, In New Series

David Copperfield baffles audiences with his illusions and David Blaine impresses with endurance acts and close-up magical mysteries but it was Harry Houdini that first...

Mini-Series 'Houdini', Starring Adrien Brody, Set To Premiere Monday

Adrien Brody is to star as Harry Houdini in an upcoming TV miniseries about the legendary illusionist and escape artist. The two part miniseries 'Houdini'...

'Third Person': Check Out The Trailer For Paul Haggis' "Russian Doll" Drama

The release of Paul Haggis' unique new drama, Third Person, is looming and fans can finally check out the trailer for the movie that had...

Third Person Trailer

Love is never uncomplicated and when a third person gets involved, it can make things even more difficult. Michael is an award-winning novelist who has...

Advertisement

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Is An Instant Hit With Critics, In Praise Of Wes Anderson's Delightful New Movie [Trailer + Pictures]

The Grand Budapest Hotel is preparing to throw its doors open to the world, having premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. Director...

The Grand Budapest Hotel Movie Review

Wes Anderson's entertaining filmmaking style clicks beautifully into focus for this comical adventure. Films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom are packed with amazing...

The Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer

The cast and crew of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' discuss the story, the main characters' relationship and the duties of the concierge in the latest...

Adrien Brody Praises Director Wes Anderson At 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Premiere

Adrien Brody gushes about 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' director Wes Anderson in a red carpet interview at the movie's premiere. Adrien plays the villainous Dmitri...

Advertisement