Sunday, September 10, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: Hollywoodland

Is there a Superman curse? The first actor to play Superman in a live action movie was Kirk Alyn. He played the boy in blue in two films, in 1948 and the sequel in 1950 called Atom Man Vs. Superman. Critics seemed to think his role as the Man of Steel was underrated; nevertheless his fame was short lived as he faded into obscurity--no, he didn't die mysteriously. He retired to Arizona. It was the second fellow who wore the tights that really intrigued Hollywood Conspiracy theorists and Superman fans alike. Who was George Reeves? Why was his death more intriguing than his life? Director Alan Coulter (Sopranos) has brought this true Hollywood tragedy to celluloid and he presents some interesting theories. They present three possible theories, two involving murder and one possibility of suicide. L.A. is shown as it always is portrayed: glamorous, with an underbelly of corruption and murder. It makes you wonder if the L.A. police department has ever or will ever solve a true murder case. I mean, next week the Black Dahlia comes out, another film about a mysterious, botched investigation into a murder. I guess if you want to commit a murder go to L.A. where if you actually kill someone you will be automatically arraigned. That's at least how these things always appear when they make docu-dramas or just dramas about Hollywood.

I enjoyed this one as it switched back and forth from George Reeves (Ben Affleck) living his final days to the Private Dick on the case, Louis Simo (Adrian Brody). Reeves is the actor trapped in the red and blue suit doomed to be typecast as a kiddie hero. His affair with a mogul's (Bob Hoskins) wife (Diane Lane) and his ambition to lose the cape forever seem tied to his untimely fate. Throw in a gold digging Fiancé (Robin Tunney) and you've got yourself a compelling whodunit.

Adrian Brody is great as the despicable Louis Simo who is intent on exploiting Reeves' death. He recognizes how to play the Jake Gittes style gumshoe in L.A. While Ben Affleck plays a very nuanced George Reeves, who wants more from his career and gets frustrated when no one can see past the cape. I'm sure Affleck can relate given his status in Hollywood as of late. I have only seen the original Superman series a few times but I think Affleck captures the essence of George Reeves. This will of course garner an Oscar nod for Ben and I think he deserves it. So is there a Superman curse? Who knows. To my knowledge, of the six or seven men that have worn the big red S on their chest only two of them have met with real tragedy. Of course they are the most iconic and best known for their portrayals but I suppose in Hollywood anything is possible.

Grade: 5 Buckets

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