Allen Coulter’s “Hollywoodland” is a welcome change from the recent slew of teen comedies, high budget blockbusters and half-baked horror flicks that have been reigning the box offices all summer.
Coulter’s first project details the death of television’s first Superman, George Reeves. “Hollywoodland” has few special effects, instead relying on an intricate plot and a handful of highly trained actors.
Adrien Brody plays Louis Simo, a down-on-his-luck private investigator who is basically unemployed, save the occasional three day gig of tracking down an allegedly cheating wife for an erratic husband. Simo runs into his old partner one day, who is now overwhelmingly successful, and Simo asks if he has any cases he doesn’t want. Thus, Simo is given the case of George Reeves (portrayed by Ben Affleck). The papers declared that the former Man of Steel committed suicide. Some people, however, saw Reeves’ death differently. “Hollywoodland” never stops forcing its moviegoers to think about the truth and just what Hollywood hides behind its golden reputation and wealthy businessmen.
The movie is shot masterfully. The music, the scenery and the actors weave the plot together seamlessly, creating a period piece that makes viewers crave the “good ol’ days” of movie-making. The movie does, however, focus on Brody’s character more than is necessary. At times the movie is more about the investigation than the actual case. The movie does rely a bit too much on the sentimentality of the character of Superman by portraying just how much the comic book character meant to small children, but the film does a great job of contrasting the myth of Superman. George Reeves was not Superman. He smoked too much, drank too much, was dating a married woman (played by Diane Lane), and, in the end, was not faster than a speeding bullet.
Perhaps the greatest factor of this movie is the removal of the myth of Superman. “Hollywoodland” could not be more different from the other Superman movie released earlier this year. There is no rescuing Lois Lane from a crashing plane. There is no Lex Luther. There is simply a real man who, we discover, didn’t want to be Superman in the first place. Though this movie is not completely factually based and relies on speculation perhaps more than real events, there is more truth in “Hollywoodland” than in any other Superman movie.
“Hollywoodland” just may be the best date movie out there right now. The film has Superman for guys, a bittersweet love story for girls, and a well-formulated storyline for everyone in between. Though the movie is directed toward the 40-plus set (that is, those who actually remember George Reeves as Superman and were crushed by his death), younger moviegoers could learn something from the death of someone fantasized to be invincible.