BY MATT JUSTUS
Before we get started, I have a correction to make regarding last week’s issue. It wasn’t Gene Shalit who stormed out of Clerks II during the bestiality discussion, it was Joel Siegel. I have a tendency to get my mustachioed film critics mixed up now and again.
HollywoodlandDirector: Allen CoulterStarring: Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Adrien Brody
Continuing with our theme of superhero-related films debuting this summer season is Hollywoodland. George Reeves, best known for playing Superman in the 1950’s television show “Adventures of Superman,” died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1959, though speculation of foul play still exists today. The film chronicles private eye Louis Simo (Brody) as he investigates Reeves’ (Affleck) death, interspersed with flashbacks to Reeves’ life and relationship to Toni Mannix (Lane).
The biggest surprise of the film is Affleck, who pulls off a wonderful performance as Reeves, an actor with moderate success but a desire to become truly great. Reeves is good with the kids that obviously worship him, but wants to show that he can do more as an actor – a sentiment likely shared by Affleck while on the set of, say, Phantoms. The other actors all range from good to excellent, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins standing out especially, and the moods of the two halves are distinct, yet realized fully enough so that the audience can appreciate them both. Simo’s half of the film is solid (though often reminiscent of Jake Gittes’ exploits in Chinatown), and it ties in thematically with Reeves’ segment in an interesting way, but we are so emotionally invested in Affleck and Lane that it becomes difficult to care equally about Simo’s broken home. I could very easily have watched a more straightforward biopic of Reeves focusing entirely on Reeves and Mrs. Mannix, dropping the noir elements but retaining the ambiguity regarding his death.