Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hollywoodland...very super

Hollywoodland - Allen Coulter - 2006 - 8/10


A down on his luck private eye, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) begins to investigate the death of George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Desperate for any job that can get his name in the papers, an old friend tosses Simo a bone and he goes to see Reeves' mother, who is convinced her son did not commit suicide as the LAPD have concluded. At first desperate for money and fame, Simo quickly becomes intrigued by the suspiscious nature of Reeves' death. The multiple bullet holes, a gun without finger prints, the fiancee calling 911 45 minutes late...the list goes on. Soon Simo is hot on the trail of several different suspects, begginning with Leonore Lemmon (Robin Turney), Reeves' fiancee who is more alone and more desperate for money than Simo is. Feeling the wind blowing in another direction and after some heavy hands force Simo to consider other suspects with greater clout, Simo uncovers Reeve's connections to Toni and Eddie Mannix (Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins). Reeves had ended a long term affair with Toni for the much younger Leonore, devestating Toni. And Eddie is scene as the plotting, jealous husband. Who could have done it? Is there a murderer to be found? Disgusted by the corruption and power of the new Hollywood(land), Simo is inspired by his son's obsession with Reeves' Superman and the desire to prove to his ex wife (Molly Parker) that this time, he's really onto a big case.


The movie is an extremely well executed film noir, one that would make James Ellroy proud. All of the actors turn in excellent performances - especially Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody. Here, Affleck finally comes into his own, playing a brooding actor, bitter about his lack of success and the typecasting that kept him out of films. Brody is even better as a lonely man who lost everything in one fell swoop who cant figure out how to get his life on track as the cases he takes serve to further unravel his life. The movie is driven by these performances as Brody's detective work is intwined with the background of Reeves' rise and fall as Superman. If the movie is hampered by anything, its reality. Unlike similar movies that explore famous murders, say the recent Zodiac, for example, this movie tells the story of a man who everyone determined, had committed suicide. There is not any information lieing around or loose ends from which to sculpt a hollywood movie here, like the vague details of the Zodiac killer, instead you have an actor who shot himself. Knowing that Simo's investigation ultimately did not dispel this conclusion, takes a mode of tension off the film. Additionally, the relationship between Simo and his ex wife, Simo and his son, Simo and his partner, and Simo and his new girlfriend could have really spiced the movie up. There could have been some interesting parallels to the relationships Reeves' had, or at least something to generate more tension of the unknown. Simo's life story is fungible, Reeve's is not. The movie tries to go there by showing the jealous outbreaks of Simo toward his girlfriend as well as Toni's oubtreak against Reeves, but its just not enough.


An underrated, must-see gem.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Black Dahlia

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