Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Movies: HOLLYWOODLAND

Just a note before I delve into this mini review: I'm still waiting for last month's contest winner to confirm, so the name hasn't been posted yet. The winner has until the 22nd....

Also, Cathie M. took me up on that offer from a few blogs ago! If you wish to post links on other websites so other people can see the BAITED teaser, please scroll down to the blog titled THE OFFER, okay? Details are there, and there's still some time left! (And thank you Cathie!!!) (Oh, and please remember, no spamming. )

Now, I know I mentioned that I would review Sean Astin's account of working on the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, but I wanted to talk about HOLLYWOODLAND before that. I really liked this movie, you all, even though the people I saw it with weren't as impressed. HOLLYWOODLAND is primarily about the mysterious death of George Reeves, who played Superman in the old serials. Woven into that backstory is the present-day detailing of a down-on-his-dreams detective (Adrien Brody) who gets pulled into the investigation. At first, Reeves' death is ruled a suicide, but strange questions lead to the suggestion of murder.

I loved several things about this film: first, the story fascinates me. Who can explain those two extra bullet holes in the floor of Reeves' room if he committed suicide? And how can a man with such talent and charisma choose to end it all?

Second, the period details get me every time. I adore movies about the workings of old Hollywood and, indeed, I try to thread them into Vampire Babylon every chance I get. And this is a noir tale, exploring the seedy side of L.A. with the help of one of those morally ambiguous gumshoes who talk tough but really have this innocent side that's somehow shocked by how depraved people can get. Adrien Brody's Louis Simo is one of those detectives, and when you realize what his whole subplot is about, it's extremely affecting. (Keep an eye on his estranged son's connection to Superman. It's a powerful moment when you realize what's really going on with his kid in the last shots.)

Third, Ben Affleck is back, and his turn as George Reeves is heartbreaking, especially at the end. My movie companions weren't as impressed with Affleck: they thought his performance was part parody and that he was too young for the role. I didn't get that at all, but that's just how I saw things. Do you remember how, in THE AVIATOR, when Cate Blanchette played Kate Hepburn, she seemed to be ACTING! I chalked that up to Kate Hepburn being larger than life at all times, as if she had to prove to everyone--even herself--that she was a big as her image on that silver screen. I felt the same way about Affleck and Reeves: except here, there's a pathetic undertone because Reeves knows that he isn't that persona, and maybe he never will be.

Diane Lane was pretty great, too. But isn't she always?

Recommended for a haunting day at the movies.

4 comments:

Reel Fanatic said...

Great review, but i get the impression that you liked this one much more than i did ... Im definitely with you that Ben is back, and when he and Diane were on screen together the movie soared ... I just found the other half of, that only sort of explored the possibilities surrounding the death of George Reeves, to be disappointment

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Hey, reel fanatic! I probably did like it more because I'm such a sucker for noir and Hollywood-dirt pieces, LOL. Is it the resolution that let you down? I've heard that some viewers are unhappy with that, and I can understand not feeling fulfilled.

Hope you stop by again!

Y said...

Wow, it sounds very interesting indeed! I haven't heard much about it, thanks for sharing C! :)

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Y, it's a bummer you haven't heard much about this movie because I feel like it has some really good things to offer. As Reel Fanatic points out, it's far from a perfect movie, but it doesn't deserve to be in theaters for only two weeks and then disappear.

Speaking of noir movies, I'm hoping to see THE BLACK DAHLIA soon....