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Allen Coulter
Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney, Larry Cedar, Jeffrey DeMunn, Brad William Henke, Dash Mihok
Writing Credits:
Paul Bernbaum

Living in Hollywood can make you famous. Dying in Hollywood can make you a legend.

A private detective (Adrien Brody) investigates the mysterious death of Superman star George Reeves (Ben Affleck) and uncovers unexpected connections to his own life. The affair Reeves had with the wife (Diane Lane) of a studio executive (Bob Hoskins) might hold the key to the truth.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5.926 million on 1548 screens.
Domestic Gross
$14.415 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/6/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Allen Coulter
• Deleted Scenes
• “Re-Creating Old Hollywood” Featurette
• “Behind the Headlines” Featurette
• “Hollywood Then and Now” Featurette
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Hollywoodland (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 14, 2007)

In a year that proclaimed the return of Superman, we also got a darker tale connected to the character. 2006’s Hollywoodland examines the mysterious and unsolved death of George Reeves, the actor who played the Man of Steel on TV in the Fifties.

The movie starts after Reeves’ (Ben Affleck) apparent suicide. Most see this as an open and shut case, but some suspect foul play. Low rent private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) hears that Reeves’ mother Helen Bessolo (Lois Smith) wants to pursue the case and he agrees.

As Simo looks into the mystery, the film shows us Reeves via flashbacks. We see the struggling actor’s attempts to be noticed and his meeting with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), a wealthy older woman. Married to MGM executive Edgar Mannix, Toni becomes Reeves’ lover. We also meet Reeves’ fiancée Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) through Simo’s investigation and observe complications caused by the love triangle. Simo pursues the case as the film mixes those elements and flashbacks to Reeves’ life.

Like many movies, Hollywoodland boasted a lot of potential for success but messed things up through its execution. The nature of the storytelling causes the majority of the problems. Rather than focus on Reeves and his life, we spend most of our time with Simo. When the flick concentrates on his investigation, the flick does okay for itself. Those elements help move the plot and keep us interested.

Unfortunately, Hollywoodland can’t leave well enough alone. The movie spends way too much time with Simo, a tactic that usually goes nowhere. It attempts to draw parallels and lessons but instead leaves us with a big “who cares?” feeling. Entire subplots such as Simo’s kid and ex-wife and his paranoid client fail to develop into anything useful or memorable. They exist to create the impression of substance but instead simply distract us from the action we want to see.

This becomes even more frustrating because of the film’s editing. Just when we start to settle into Reeves’ world and become involved in his life, the movie cuts us short and takes us back to Simo. Actually, I can’t fault the editing itself, as the flick’s cuts are done to make an impact. Unfortunately, the impression they create contradicts what the filmmakers want us to get from them. Rather than startle us and put us in Simo’s head, they just irritate us since they take us away from the interesting parts of the story.

That’s a massive flaw, and it’s one that Hollywoodland can never quite overcome. Simo never becomes anything more than a sad-sack with regrets, and the lack of screentime for Reeves and his associates leaves them with a more one-dimensional feel than we’d like. To his credit, Affleck manages to overcome the script’s flaws to a large degree. Although we don’t see a ton of Reeves, Affleck manages to convey his personality and aspirations quite well. We can see various sides of the man and get a decent feel for him even without substantial exposition.

Which makes it even more depressing to think how good Hollywoodland could have become if it concentrated on the appropriate subject. It sticks with the dull tale of the private investigator and neglects the elements of the life being investigated. This leaves it as a film that keeps our interest but frustrates too much to really succeed.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Hollywoodland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a consistently solid transfer.

Sharpness generally appeared positive. Some minor softness affected a few wide shots, but those examples occurred infrequently. For the most part, the image remained distinct and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I did notice a little light edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, the movie came with no blemishes. It always appeared clean.

Hollywoodland featured a muted and burnished palette, and the DVD displayed those tones well. The colors never had a chance to excel, but the image replicated them appropriately. Black levels came across as deep and rich, and shadow detail also appeared dense and appropriately opaque. Other than a few examples of minor softness, this was a top-notch presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hollywoodland stayed pretty low-key. The soundfield showed good stereo imaging for the score and also displayed a subdued sense of environment. The mix provided light atmospheric elements and never went beyond that. As for the surrounds, they emphasized general reinforcement of the music and effects; I didn’t notice anything unique from the rears.

Audio quality was solid. Dialogue appeared natural and lacked edginess or other issues. Effects demonstrated good clarity, though they were so laid-back that they never offered much presence. Even gunshots didn’t do much to come to the forefront. Music was similarly restrained, but the score was smooth and concise. This wasn’t an exciting mix, but it showed decent dimensionality and remained acceptable for the film.

The disc’s extras open with an audio commentary from director Allen Coulter. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. The director goes over themes and subtexts, the cast and working with the actors, period details, perspective and camera choices, musical selections and their use in the flick, and various behind the scenes tidbits.

Coulter offers a cool look at his film. He really lets us in on the picture’s “secrets” and opens up different aspects of the piece. Coulter makes the commentary consistently revealing and informative, as he keeps us interested from start to finish. Despite a little too much of the usual praise for all involved, this is a good little track.

Three Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, eight seconds. These include the eulogy from Reeves’ agent Art, some evidence related to Toni/Reeves/Edgar, and a complication for Simo in that regard. The first one isn’t memorable, and the other two connect. However, they wouldn’t add anything to the narrative. Indeed, all three would simply exacerbate the movie’s existing lack of balance, so I’m glad they got the boot.

Three featurettes follow. Re-Creating Old Hollywood lasts six minutes, 54 seconds, as it mixes movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and comments. We hear from Coulter, producer Glenn Williamson, columnist James R. Bacon, makeup department head Linda Dowds, production designer Leslie McDonald, executive producer J. Miles Dale, costume designer Julie Weiss, and actors Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins, Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck.

The show looks at research, sets and locations, makeup and costumes, and all the elements required to make the movie look like it’s set in the Fifties. It provides a concise and informative take on all these visual issues and proves quite illuminating.

Next we get the seven-minute and 22-second Behind the Headlines. It features Affleck, Coulter, Dale, Lane, Hoskins, Brody, Williamson, screenwriter Paul Bernbaum, Adventures of Superman actor Jack Larson, actor/historian Jim Beaver and actor Robin Tunney. “Headlines” examines story, character and performance as it delves into the movie’s narrative. We also get notes on research and accuracy. The story notes occasionally make this one feel like a promo, but the insights into the real events allow the show to become reasonably engaging.

Finally, we come to Hollywood Then & Now. It fills seven minutes, 58 seconds with notes from Williamson, Coulter, Beaver, Dale, Bacon, Larson, Bernbaum, Lane, Affleck, Hoskins, film historian/author Rudy Behlmer, and Hollywood historian Alan L. Gansberg. We get notes on the way Hollywood worked in the Forties and Fifties as well as a contrast with the current period and few more notes about the characters. The information ties into the flick well and creates another interesting program.

The DVD opens with ads for Catch a Fire, Hot Fuzz, Man of the Year and HD-DVD. No trailer for Hollywoodland appears on the disc.

Hollywoodland takes a sordid, controversial story and manages to bury it inside an extraneous tale. We get too much related to the life of a fictional character and not enough of the events related to George Reeves. The DVD presents very good visuals, decent audio, and extras highlighted by a positive audio commentary. I like the DVD well enough but don’t think that it supports a terribly interesting movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8571 Stars Number of Votes: 7
2 3:
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