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Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Allen Coulter
Starring: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney
Released by: Focus Features

In Short: Based on the real-life death of the original Superman, George Reeves, this mystery has plenty of promise but ultimately fails to deliver.

Truth, Justice and…Ah, Who Cares?
'Hollywoodland' Turns Out to be Something of a Snore
by Andrew Bender

Director Allen Coulter's "Hollywoodland" has all the makings of a classic Los Angeles whodunit: the scandal-wrapped suicide of a famous actor, a publicity-seeking private eye and big stars (Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins). Plus, parts are shot in black and white, which makes it de facto cool.

So why the heck doesn't it work?

It starts out well enough. It’s the early 1950s, and Affleck plays George Reeves—a down-on-his-luck, one-time movie star (he was in “Gone with the Wind”) who is forced to work in the new, two-bit medium called television. But fortune smiles and he becomes Superman, an instant hero to kids nationwide. He also takes up with the gorgeous Toni Mannix (Lane). As the wife of a studio head (Hoskins), Toni has enough money to bankroll Reeves like a boy toy, and she does...until he falls for another woman. Soon, he turns up dead.

The official line is that it’s a suicide, the result of an overdose of fame and no new work in the pipeline. Reeves’ mother thinks otherwise and hires gumshoe Louis Simo (Brody) to investigate. Again, all promising movie material.

So what’s the problem? Storytelling and style. This is director Coulter’s first feature film (his impressive TV directing credits include “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under”), and he falls into the trap of imitation. How many jazz trumpet riffs do we need to remind us that this is film noir? Plus, the story never quite gels, compounded by the fact this is not the actors’ best work. Affleck, not one of our greatest actors to begin with, preens, mugs and tries on a Jimmy Stewart accent for size—all of which makes you squirm in your seat. And Brody, well, he is one of our most talented actors, but its hard to tell from this film.

All in all, unlike Reeves' super character, "Hollywoodland" is a lot less powerful than a locomotive.


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