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  Publicity Stills of "Hollywoodland"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Drama/Mystery
Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, Molly Parker, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney, Kathleen Robertson, Steve Adams
RunTime: 2 hrs 6 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: NC-16 (Nudity)

Opening Day: 11 January 2007


A uniquely compelling exploration of fame and identity. The drama, inspired by one of Hollywood's most infamous real-life mysteries, follows a 1950s private detective (Academy Award winner Adrien Brody) who, investigating the mysterious death of "Superman" star George Reeves (Academy Award winner Ben Affleck), uncovers unexpected connections to his own life as the case turns ever more personal. The torrid affair Reeves had with the wife (Academy Award nominee Diane Lane) of a studio executive (Academy Award nominee Bob Hoskins) might hold the key to the truth.

Movie Review:

This is a movie about Superman. And how the Man of Steel isn’t that super after all.

Based on real life events, the complex movie is an intimate exploration of what may have caused a speeding bullet to go through TV’s Superman’s head in 1959. A private detective takes on the case after it was conveniently dismissed by the local police as suicide. The uncovering of truth will only prove too emotionally taxing for the suffering detective as he has his own inner demons to battle.

The chilling aspect of this story is: there is still controversy today as to whether Reeves really committed suicide. You see, fame and justice do not exactly go hand in hand – especially when Reeves had an affair with the wife of MGM’s executive.

There you have it, another tale of two men suffering in confusion and turmoil - another brilliant opportunity for actors to show off their acting chops.

And painfully delivering very fine performances are Oscar winners Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck. Brody plays the seedy and conflicted detective with just the right amount of sleaze and level of dislike. The role is a showcase of conflict between attaining justice and getting the business done through unethical means. Underneath that dislikeable character, Brody injects a personal affection which makes you want to empathize with his vulnerable tragedy.

However fine Brody’s delivery is, he is overshadowed by Affleck’s portrayal of the infamous TV star. So impressive is this misunderstood actor, he was rewarded with a Best Actor prize at the Venice Film Festival in September last year.

And how rightly deserving Affleck is of this award.

The rise and fall of a star in Tinseltown is humanely presented on screen by the charismatic good-looker. Viewers will be able to connect with Reeves as a real movie star who was initially seduced by the bright lights of stardom and fame, and eventually becoming a victim of this honey trap. The consequences, as you know, are dire.

Rounding up the reliable cast are Oscar nominees Diane Lane, who ages gracefully to play the woman Reeves had a torrid affair with; and Bob Hoskins, who poignantly brings the MGM executive with an agenda to life.

With such heavily depressing characters in the movie, it is no wonder that the 125-minute picture is not easy to sit through. After much meandering in its first half, the Allen Coulter-directed movie finally picks up pace somewhere after its halfway mark.

But we are still awed by the director’s ability to interplay true facts with fiction so delicately. With TV works like “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” under the first time-feature film director’s credits, Coulter has respectably told a sad story of a fallen star.

With the help of stylishly lush cinematography, an authentically produced set design and an aptly shady jazz score featuring trumpet solos, this movie gives us a peek into the not-so-glamorous side of show business.

Towards the end of the movie, Brody’s character tells us about how we are surrounded by “shitty people”. It is then we suddenly realize that the film isn’t too concerned about the truth behind Reeves’ death anymore. We too, are not worried whether there is a clear conclusion to this movie which presents itself as a whodunit crime thriller.

It struck us that, what is relevant to us today, are the two men’s sad desperation of trying to maintain balance in their lives. Guess what, not everyone can be strong all the time – not even Superman.

Movie Rating:

(Featuring top-notch performances, this heavy tale paints a gloomy picture of human nature’s darker side)

Review by John Li


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