Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Take - Hollywoodland

My Take on the Movies
A Mini-Review of
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

Hollywoodland, a 2006 film by director Allen Coulter (The Sopranos), is based on the true story of the life and mysterious death of actor George Reeves, known to millions of children as Superman - the Man of Steel. Ben Affleck (Changing Lanes - 2002) plays Reeves, an aspiring director and a struggling actor, with dozens of “B” movies to his credit in the twenty-something years prior to his death.

Adrien Brody (The Village - 2004) is Louis Simo, the gum-smacking gumshoe who investigates the alleged suicide on behalf of the actor’s mother (played by Lois Smith of Minority Report - 2002). He is initially hoping to catch a ride on the Superman gravy train by uncovering evidence that the suicide was in fact a homicide. Ultimately, he is no longer concerned about his investigative fee; he just wants to find out the truth.

Through Simo, the film explores various possible scenarious of Reeves's untimely death. One scenario points to Reeves’s brazen fiancée, Lenore (Robin Tunney of Prison Break). No one is exempt from suspicion, and no slimy stone is left unturned. Simo uses his contacts at the Rick Harris Agency (his former employer), to develop insights into Reeves’s relationships with his fiancée, his apparently estranged mother, and his benefactor Toni Mannix (Diane Lane of Under the Tuscan Sun - 2003), the overly indulged wife of Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins of Beyond the Sea - 2004), general manager of MGM Studios.

The emotional effect of Superman's death on millions of the youth of the day is briefly examined. Simo’s son Evan (Zach Mills of Cold Case and Malcolm in the Middle) exhibits some psychological imbalance as a result of the news of his hero’s suicide. Simo himself seems altered gradually, as he delves into the circumstances surrounding Superman’s existence (and its cessation).

The ugly crime is explored in minute detail from every possible angle, as is the web of scandal surrounding the people in Reeves’s extended circle. No punches are pulled in the telling of Reeves’ story. We are repeatedly exposed to the seamier side of Hollywood, and to the disgusting crime scene. This film is not for the squeamish.

Each of the actors in the film somehow becomes the character he or she portrays. The clothing, the hairstyles, the physical properties, and the ambiance are all right on the money for the mid- to late 1950s in Southern California. The atmosphere can appropriately be characterized as “nouveau noir”.

The film poses many questions, but provides no answers. To this day, perhaps there are none. We are all left to draw our own conclusions. My conclusion is — after so much time and such a lackluster career, possibly it no longer matters. [2:06]

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

[© 09/14/2006]


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