Hollywoodland

I enjoyed this noir movie. With a dash of mystery and plenty of old-Hollywood glamour and sophistication, Hollwoodland harkens back to an era where actors and actresses were icons. The women were beautiful, the men were handsome, and a cigarette dangled elegantly from every pair of lips. Much like L.A. Confidential, Hollywoodland depicts 1950s Los Angeles as an alluring but dangerous place.

The movie is based on the life and brief career of George Reeves, the actor who portrayed Superman in the original television series. Ben Affleck (Paycheck, Pearl Harbor) plays Reeves, a charming, charismatic, and naively sincere actor looking to branch out from the character of Superman. As you know, Reeves allegedly committed suicide. The movie explores a variety of competing theories as to Reeves’ cause of death. The story is really told through the perspective of Louis Simo (Adrien Brody of The Jacket), a seedy private investigator looking for a quick buck by selling a sensational cover-up story to the newspapers. While investigating Reeves’ death, Simo realizes that there are many people who had a motive to bump him off, including his mistress Toni Mannix (Diane Lane of Unfaithful), his bitchy fiancée, and the husband of his mistress–the powerful head of MGM studios.

Adrien Brody is very convincing in his role, as Simo’s quest for the truth begins to erode his life. Diane Lane is good in just about anything she does, and she plays Toni with just the right amount of love, lust and venom. Now for Ben Affleck. I noticed that the commercials for Hollywoodland fail to mention his name in connection with the movie. Three years ago he would have received top billing. Now he’s relegated to third place, billed behind Brody and Lane. Just an observation. I think Affleck did a good job in the role. Say what you will, but he’s charming, tall, and handsome if nothing else. He doesn’t do it for me, but he’s got the movie star thing going, and I think that star quality serves him well, especially in the scene where he first meets Toni. He’s the boy toy to her seductive older woman, and it works well. Hollywoodland is a lot of things rolled into one: drama, mystery, and most importantly: a sad commentary on the ruthlessness of an industry that thrives on the believability of facades and lies. You’ll leave with the same unanswered questions you had at the beginning, but I guess that’s the point.

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