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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Broken Lives
"Hollywoodland" is everything that the dreadful "The Black Dahlia" isn't: interesting, beautifully acted, intelligent, respectful to it's time and place which in both cases just happens to be Southern California circa 1945-1959. Both concern a death: one perhaps a suicide and the other definitely a murder.
Directed by Alan Coulter with a genuine empathy for his...
Published on September 25, 2006 by MICHAEL ACUNA

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98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When Films Collide--A Great Hollywood Story At Odds With An Average Detective Flick
There is a fantastic film within "Hollywoodland"! That film stars Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, both giving superlative performances. As TV Superman George Reeves, Affleck connects with a role that some say mirror his own situation. He's an appealing, handsome actor of limited range who is not generally regarded for having actual talent. And Affleck steps up to the task...
Published on November 2, 2006 by K. Harris


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98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When Films Collide--A Great Hollywood Story At Odds With An Average Detective Flick, November 2, 2006
This review is from: Hollywoodland (DVD)
There is a fantastic film within "Hollywoodland"! That film stars Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, both giving superlative performances. As TV Superman George Reeves, Affleck connects with a role that some say mirror his own situation. He's an appealing, handsome actor of limited range who is not generally regarded for having actual talent. And Affleck steps up to the task of inhabiting that persona--he shows the frustration, rage, and longing for respect that comes with being typecast as Superman. Diane Lane plays the wife of a studio exec who fancies Reeves and turns him into her kept "boy." Well, an older woman never looked so good! Lane just seems to get better and better as the years go by. She hits all the right notes in a performance that's wickedly sexy, desperate, charming, and funny--all rolled up into one.

This relationship, her open marriage to Bob Hoskins, his courtship with a golddigger played nicely by Robin Tunney, and the tale of Reeves' struggle in Hollywood--this is all grand entertainment. It's filmed and executed beautifully and is thoroughly fascinating.

Sadly, there is also an average film within "Hollywoodland." That film stars Adrien Brody as a two-bit private detective hired to look into Reeves' apparent suicide. Might it have been more? In addition to the investigation, we get many other glimpses into Brody's life--his strained relationship with his wife and child, his affair with a younger woman, another case that goes terribly wrong, and some backstory about how he ended up on the outskirts of the Hollywood machine. It's all fine, but nothing nearly as intriguing as the Reeves case--and nothing particularly original, either

Sadly, the two aspects never merged cohesively for me. Every time you're drawn into something interesting in Reeves' life--BOOM, the film pulls you out to see some parallel with the detective. Well, ultimately, I just had to say "who cares?" to most of those moments. Brody's relationship with his son, for example, plays prominently. Not enough time is spent with these subplots to actually develop feelings one way or the other--they just serve to shut down the main action. Now I'm not blaming Brody--his performance is fine--all the performances are fine. It's the structure of the film. It just doesn't serve the story well--however talented everyone associated with this production may be.

Part of the film was 5 stars, part was 3 stars. I'd rate the whole venture at about 3 1/2--with regret--because there is a film in here that I would have loved to see. KGHarris, 11/06.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Broken Lives, September 25, 2006
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hollywoodland (DVD)
"Hollywoodland" is everything that the dreadful "The Black Dahlia" isn't: interesting, beautifully acted, intelligent, respectful to it's time and place which in both cases just happens to be Southern California circa 1945-1959. Both concern a death: one perhaps a suicide and the other definitely a murder.
Directed by Alan Coulter with a genuine empathy for his characters sad, sordid lives: a brilliant Ben Affleck as TV Superman George Reeves, a committed though out-of-the-box style performance from the always interesting Adrian Brody as a down-on-his-luck Private Investigator, Louis Simo and the luminous Diane Lane as Reeves paramour and fading beauty Toni Mannix.
Coulter spends a lot of time on the back lives of these three which adds texture and resonance to their film lives and by extension the film. Of particular note is Simo's story: his son, his ex-wife (the terrific Molly Parker), his father or lack thereof. Brody is particularly thoughtful and emotionally open in his scenes with his son. Brody is so good at conveying pages of exposition and dialogue through the iris of the camera by way of his huge expressive eyes.
"Hollywoodland" is terse, compact, humane, beautifully photographed and sensitively produced and scripted. That it comes from humble beginnings only makes Coulter's achievement all the more glorious.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When Films Collide--A Great Hollywood Story At Odds With An Average Detective Flick, December 2, 2006
There is a fantastic film within "Hollywoodland"! That film stars Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, both giving superlative performances. As TV Superman George Reeves, Affleck connects with a role that some say mirror his own situation. He's an appealing, handsome actor of limited range who is not generally regarded for having actual talent. And Affleck steps up to the task of inhabiting that persona--he shows the frustration, rage, and longing for respect that comes with being typecast as Superman. Diane Lane plays the wife of a studio exec who fancies Reeves and turns him into her kept "boy." Well, an older woman never looked so good! Lane just seems to get better and better as the years go by. She hits all the right notes in a performance that's wickedly sexy, desperate, charming, and funny--all rolled up into one.

This relationship, her open marriage to Bob Hoskins, his courtship with a golddigger played nicely by Robin Tunney, and the tale of Reeves' struggle in Hollywood--this is all grand entertainment. It's filmed and executed beautifully and is thoroughly fascinating.

Sadly, there is also an average film within "Hollywoodland." That film stars Adrien Brody as a two-bit private detective hired to look into Reeves' apparent suicide. Might it have been more? In addition to the investigation, we get many other glimpses into Brody's life--his strained relationship with his wife and child, his affair with a younger woman, another case that goes terribly wrong, and some backstory about how he ended up on the outskirts of the Hollywood machine. It's all fine, but nothing nearly as intriguing as the Reeves case--and nothing particularly original, either

Sadly, the two aspects never merged cohesively for me. Every time you're drawn into something interesting in Reeves' life--BOOM, the film pulls you out to see some parallel with the detective. Well, ultimately, I just had to say "who cares?" to most of those moments. Brody's relationship with his son, for example, plays prominently. Not enough time is spent with these subplots to actually develop feelings one way or the other--they just serve to shut down the main action. Now I'm not blaming Brody--his performance is fine--all the performances are fine. It's the structure of the film. It just doesn't serve the story well--however talented everyone associated with this production may be.

Part of the film was 5 stars, part was 3 stars. I'd rate the whole venture at about 3 1/2--with regret--because there is a film in here that I would have loved to see. KGHarris, 12/06.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent job of covering of the great real mysteries of Hollywood, April 20, 2007
As a small child I remember the shock I experienced learning that the man who had played Superman had died by his own hand. I learned this when the show was in reruns so I can only imagine how traumatic it was for kids who learned it firsthand. Like many American children my early imagination was driven by a variety of caped heroes--Superman, Mighty Mouse, Underdog, Batman, and Robin--and I spent a fair amount of my preschool days with a towel pinned around my neck. So this movie dealt with the other side of something that was very important to me as a child.

Still, I think the group rating of three and a half stars for this film is about right. It is extremely well acted--including, surprisingly, Ben Affleck--and is fascinating to look at with the meticulous recreations of the fifties (a look I remember vividly thanks to my grandparents' frozen-in-time decor, with the contemporary color television strangely at odds with everything else in the house). Yet, it disappoints. The story is a can't-miss one and yet they come astonishingly close to missing.

The problem is that the movie has to pursue a point of view that really has little merit. Though some of Reeve's friends discounted the conclusion that he had committed suicide--for instance, I remember reading legendary tough man Gene LeBell (if they had had ultimate fighting in his day, LeBell might well have dominated the sport) recount the plans Reeves was making for a cowboy show on television at the time of his death--most have concluded upon examination of the facts that Reeves did indeed commit suicide. This is the conclusion the movie reaches as well, but it dances around this until the end, making the viewer think for most of its length that there might be a conspiracy of some sort. There is, but not the conspiracy one anticipates. But the film's biggest problem by far is content and pacing. Too little happens in the movie and what does happen takes place too slowly. The intrinsic fascination of Reeves's real life story kept me interested, but the way the whole tale was told dulled that interest.

Still, there is no questioning that the film has a first-rate cast. Affleck is better than he has ever been as Reeves. He manages to communicate both charm and vulnerability as Superman's alter ego. Diane Lane was her usual superb self as Reeves's older lover Toni Mannix, while Bob Hoskins's is also his usual superb self as film executive Eddie Mannix. For the record, though an important industry figure, Mannix was not quite the power figure he is represented as being. I would refer anyone so interested to any book providing a history of MGM. He was, at best, an important second tier figure. He served the power figures at MGM; he was not a power figure himself. But narratively it was important to puff him up to be more significant than he was in real life. It is true, however, that some linked him to the death of Jean Harlow's husband (who died under exceedingly shady circumstances). I always enjoy watching Adrien Brody but it was somewhat dispiriting watching him pursue his mystery wrapped an enigma that turned out to be not so terribly mysterious at all. I loved French-Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas in the TV cult favorite WONDERFALLS, but I found her all but recognizable in the film as Brody's blonde (she is a natural brunette) girlfriend.

This is one of those that is difficult to recommend yet hard to discourage one from seeing. I'm certainly glad that I saw it even while acknowledging that they didn't do as good a job as they might have. Summing up I suppose I could say that I found the investigation of Reeves's suicide/possible murder rather uninteresting and uninspiring, while I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes that were flashbacks to Reeves's life and career. It makes me wonder if the film might not have been more interesting and successful as a straightforward biopic. In the end it was his life and truly sad death that drives the film, not the investigation of a possible conspiracy.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Landscape, February 7, 2007
Combining the elements of an interesting biography with a murder mystery, `Hollywoodland' could have easily been a bungled effort. We are transported to the naivete' of the 1950's culture like `Good Night and Good Luck' and `Quiz Show' without leaving any clues uncovered. Exploring the death of TV Superman actor, George Reeves (Ben Affleck), we get more of a film that investigates like `JFK' but feels like `Reversal of Fortune'. Haunting, yet playful, `Hollywoodland' provides absorbing entertainment. However, if you're looking for a film that is all neat and tidy, `Hollywoodland' is not for you.

Reeves' death is really an odd and unwelcome affair. Splashed across the headlines, the police have concluded a suicide, somewhat strange back then, and a horror for the children who worshipped their small screen hero. In the household of private investigator, Louis Simo`s, (Adrian Brody) son is devastated. Simo's interest doesn`t stop there, however. Reeve's mother doesn't believe the report. That's understandable, but when she hires Simo to investigate, we find that Reeve's had marks on his body, and the trajectory of the inflicting bullet seems odd. Next, we discover a web of infidelities and broken relationships that present a myriad of possibilities. Hating publicity, Eddie Mannix, Reeves' studio executive, does everything he can to stop Simo in his tracks.

`Hollywoodland' is an intriguing affair that gives a respectful and heartfelt look at Reeves' own life. Fun-loving and funny, Reeves comes to life with the behind the scenes look at his private life and several stage anecdotes. For someone who seemed to love life, his death comes across as particularly tragic. As already indicated, `Hollywoodland' doesn't try to sew up the case, but it makes us ponder his life and his death. Besides focusing on Reeves, himself, Adrian Brody's excellent performance has us rooting for Simo as well. Recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Murky and thin, but trying., February 7, 2007
By 
ajsteele (Outer Mongolia) - See all my reviews
This story of TVs Superman(George Reeves)murder/suicide captures the era perfectly but gets a bit muddled, and seems to stretch the story looking for more. Ben Affleck who I dont care for did a great job as Reeves and made him an interesting person to delve into. Problem is, his life wasnt delved into enough. Their was much jumping around from post to pre death which didnt work well.

The movie was filmed creatively with excellent period surroundings giving it palpable believability. Diane Lane as Toni Manix fit the role perfectly but her scenes seemed staged. It was an interesting watch but it drew very few if any conclusions. I was left with as little information as I knew when I finished watching it. Adrian Brody, who in the past I thought was overrated held his own but was taking on too much to stretch the film. It really deserves an addional half star because it really tried and had some facinating elements to it. Great dialogue sound on the dvd with a good home theatre system. A thin film needing more substance. Nice attempt all around.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuanced performances in interesting examination of fame and disappointment, July 27, 2008
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I've seen , as a child, one or two ancient reruns of the SUPERMAN TV series starring George Reeves. Even in the late `60s, this show looked cheap and uninteresting. Yet for a couple of seasons, it made hunky actor Reeves famous through the nation. It also resulted in typecasting that prevented him from getting any other roles and eventually led him down a path of heavy drinking and other destructive behavior...culminating in his suicide. Simple enough.

But HOLLYWOODLAND informed me that Reeves' death, though ruled a suicide, might actually have been a murder. And what we see with this movie is the investigation into the life and death of Reeves. A private detective, Louis Simo (well-played by Adrien Brody), who is looking for his own "Big Break" takes on the challenge and is met with resistance on all sides...the police, the film industry and by those closest to Reeves. Are they hiding something, or are they simply clinging to some privacy. Naturally, our thoughts are skewed towards believing Reeves was murdered. After all, the movie couldn't possibly take us back to where started, could it? That Reeves simply committed suicide.

But the thing about HOLLYWOODLAND is that it isn't really about this mystery. It's about the ravages of an unreasonable quest for glory...about the failings of always wanting more. It isn't simply another clichéd film about gaining fame and the disappointment of losing it. It examines how our own unreasonable goals can lead us down a path of self-destruction...making our goals that much harder to achieve.

We see, through flashbacks, the later career of Reeves (Ben Affleck). He had a small part in 1939's GONE WITH THE WIND...and now, in the late `50s...he's never achieved anything like it again. He does meet and fall into a passionate affair with rich society lady Toni Mannix (Diane Lane) who takes him under her wing. He becomes something of a kept man...but he's okay with that because he believes she can help his career. She is married to a studio chief, after all. A chief who doesn't mind their affair because he has his own mistresses. The couple are genuinely fond of each other, and for awhile, things go well. But when SUPERMAN comes along, Reeves is literally trapped behind his caped costume. His show is so wildly successful that he cannot convince in anything else. (Chances are, the way Affleck plays Reeves, he may not have been a very good actor either.) As his career stalls, Reeves becomes more and more frustrated. He leaves his love for a younger woman...and thus sets up a series of motives for who may have killed him.

What works so well about the film is that we see this "star" on a destructive path...paralleled by the path of the detective, who is also wracked by guilt, drinking and anguish over a failed marriage and a troubled son. He's driven to prove himself as something of a "star PI"...something he may simply not have the skills for. Will his life take a path similar to Reeves.

The film isn't saying, "don't reach of the stars, you may get burned." But it does say, behind all the gloss, bad language and period detail..."take a moment to be grateful for what you DO have." This is a pretty nice message, and a surprising one to find in a gritty and icy film like this.

As with many period films, everyone feels just a little trapped in the past. We are held at an emotional remove from the actions...yet Affleck, Lane and Brody are good enough to pull us in. Lane continues to dazzle as the "go to" actress of a certain age. Her age is a crucial part of the film, and she is glamorous, yet also quite aware that her beauty is on the edge of fading. Affleck is a revelation, much as his directing was with GONE BABY GONE. As he did in venues such as SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, he plays his square-jawed good looks for fun, and is happy to let his full features run just a little bit to fat. He's always handsome...but he finds a sadness and an anxiety that makes him seedy as well. He's got a quick wit...but it only partially masks his anger and disappointment. Brody gives another mannered performance...he's ideal for these period films because he is just slightly larger than life, like a stage actor making an uncomfortable transition to film. He makes it work for him in HOLLYWOODLAND.

Jeffrey DeMunn and Bob Hoskins also give good performances in smaller roles. Robin Tunney, in her role as Reeves fiancé, is less convincing because she finds only the unlikeable side of her character.

The very end of the film is a little disappointing. I don't mean the result of the investigation...but literally the final scene with Brody. I would have liked to see it go just 15 seconds longer...to reassure me that what I thought he was doing really was what he was doing.

It's an adult film. The themes will only be fully understood by people who've lived with disappointment and letdown. It has a leisurely pace...but it is telling a pretty interesting story, both the mystery and human investigation. I recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Darkened Screen, May 24, 2008
I found this Hollywood semi-biopic absorbing from beginning to end. It recalled that bygone era when entering a movie theater was more than making a stop at the outrageously priced popcorn concession on the way into a tacky multiplex cubicle. Movie theaters themselves, whether they purported to be dimly-lit frescoed Egyptian temples or dusk-enshrouded palaces with glittering stars implanted in the ceilings, provided magical settings for the flickering images that transported audiences wherever the movie producers chose to take them. The Film Stars who twinkled in the Hollywood firmament had the glamor of distance, and the Big Studio Moghuls had teams of publicity men to make sure that the dark side of the silver screen was never even glimpsed. Of course, too often real life intruded into reel life and the screen was ruptured by lurid headlines.

"Hollywoodland," ably acted by Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins, as well as a solid supporting cast, captures the period at the end of the Big Studio era admirably. From the faux elegance of the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the dusty vaults of Western Costume, the movie recalls both sides of the Hollywood dream. Adrien Brody plays the seedy wannabe private eye with a sensitivity that makes us identify with him, even though we see through his pretensions. Ben Affleck parallels Brody's character in his portrayal of the wannabe Star of the first magnitude, whose image is occluded by his small-screen Superman persona; Diane Lane is stylish as the aging Hollywood matron who becomes the woman scorned; and Bob Hoskins is positively sinister in the role of the studio exec.

The film offers no pat answers to the mystery of whether George Reeves killed himself or was murdered, but it offers some tantalizing possibilities that the viewer will ponder after the screen has gone dark.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent George Reeves biopic, May 18, 2007
By 
Cory D. Slipman (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"Hollywoodland" directed by Allen Coulter who makes the transition from the small to the silver screen, is an examination of TV legend George Reeves and his apparent demise by suicide. Several possible scenarios are proposed to explain the questionable nature of his death, without shedding new light about this mystery.

The film consists of two intertwining stories. L.A. gumshoe Louis Simo played nicely by Adrien Brody, at the behest of Reeve's doting mother is investigating the circumstances behind his death. Meanwhile the later stages of Reeves life is examined in retrospective fashion. Reeves played surprisingly well by a too often wooden Ben Affleck is battling depression and alcoholism. Despite achieving intense fame in his portrayal of Superman, he is unable to land serious movie roles. He is in effect being kept by his married lover Toni Maddox, played by star of the film, Diane Lane. Lane is married to powerful MGM honcho Eddie Maddox played by an ancient looking Bob Hoskins.

Reeves eventually dumps his lover for a younger model played by a manipulative, gold digging Robin Tunney giving both she and Lane motive for killing him. Brody also uncovers a connection to organized crime with a vengeful Hoskins, also making him a suspect.

The highlight of the film however was not the acting but the sets. The art deco representation of L.A. in the 1950's complete with a wonderful array of retro automobiles was a magnificent sight to behold.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Movie That Was Overlooked, April 11, 2007
Hollywoodland is an amazing movie, but not as good as I hoped it would be. The film never really goes anywhere since it is all speculation, and the end of the film just ends almost where it began, with nothing being solved. Adrien Brody was amazing in this movie as the private investigator trying to get justice for George Reeves and his mother who believes that her son was murdered. Ben Affleck also did a great job in the movie, especially since he looks so much like George. You can tell when you watch this movie that Affleck is loves getting to play Superman, he just looks like he is having fun. Overall, a really good movie but it does kind of drag a little parts in the middle. Other than that, this movie is a really amazing film. Like I said, this is just a lot of theory and all of them are shown in this film, but no answers are given since no one really knows the truth about what happened except for George himself.
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Hollywoodland
Hollywoodland by Allen Coulter
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