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Hollywoodland - drama DVD review
HOLLYWOODLAND Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Actors: Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins
Director: Allen Coulter   Studio: Universal Studios
DVD release: 06 February 2007   Runtime: 127 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; French, Dolby Digital 5.1), Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), Commentary by Coulter, Deleted scenes, 3 featurettes ("Recreating Old Hollywood," "Behind the Headlines," "Hollywood Then & Now")

Despite its many flaws, Hollywoodland has a lot of strong acting and storyline arcs. The only problem is it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be or whose story it wants to tell: Ben Affleck portraying the troubled actor George Reeves, or the fictional private investigator with family problems, Louis Simo (Adrian Brody). The movie, though convoluted by the dual story arcs, is bookended by the death of George Reeves, the man who played Superman on TV.

The blending of fact and fiction isn't necessarily such a bad concept, it just isn't done as well as it should have been in this movie. What makes this a movie that you should view somewhere a long the line is the absolutely mesmerizing perforamce by Diane Lane (Toni Mannix) and the surprisingly strong effort put in by Ben Affleck. Their relationship is compelling, and they have great on screen chemistry. Also turning in a strong performance is Bob Hoskins as gruff studio head Eddie Mannix. If you are a dedicated TV fan, you will even notice the small but well played role by Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue) as Eddie Mannix's fixer, Howard Strickland.

As strong as the Reeves possible murder/probable suicide angle is, as well as his desire to be more than just Superman, is that the whole Louis Simo angle being at times equally as weak. Adrian is a fine actor in the roles that suit him, but this role needs the machismo of a Russel Crowe type. It's not that all of the Simo aspect of the story is horrible, just certain scenes that strain the credibility factor a bit too much. I would have liked to see him more in a straight procedural role and the whole family struggle aspect nixed all together; it adds nothing to the character or the film.

The sets, the cars, the costume design, even the way the characters speak is authentic, imparting the feel of the times. But the cinematography and editing isn't in the mold of a true noir (modern or otherwise) film. Far better than the extremely disappointing The Black Dahlia yet falling short of the fantastic L.A. Confidential, Hollywoodland's dual storyline makes reviewing this film as whole complicated. There is some good in both parts, with the majority of that quality coming from the Reeves storyline. Some won't be able to forgive the movie's faux pas and thus won't be able to let the bad stuff slide to enjoy the strong scenes. For others, the good will outweigh the bad, and you can live with it just being a solid movie experience instead of the outstanding one it could have been. This one definitely deserves a chance for the peek into the old Hollywood system, Lane and Affleck's performances, and a solid supporting cast that saves it from falling into the land of dreck.

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reviewed by Bobby Blades
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