Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Joe Spano, Molly Parker, Dash Mihok, Brad William Henke, Lois Smith, Caroline Dhavernas
Written by: Paul Bernbaum
Directed by: Allen Coulter
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and sexual content
Running Time: 126
Date: 08/31/2006

Hollywoodland (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sweeping precariously close to L.A. Confidential (1997) and Auto Focus (2002) as well as several hundred other recent biopics, Allen Coulter's Hollywoodland nevertheless manages a flavor of its own. It tells the story of actor George Reeves, best known for his role as TV's black-and-white "Superman," and the events behind his mysterious death. In what may be his best performance to date, Ben Affleck plays Reeves with a combination of good-natured warmth and buried sadness. Diane Lane plays his mistress Toni Mannix, who was married to mogul Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins). The movie comes to life via the addition of a fictitious character, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a low-rent shamus looking to solve the Reeves murder case and to boost his own standing. Via the title, Coulter thematically connects Simo and Reeves, drawing them both into a make-believe world in which -- thanks to cinematic images -- people can imagine themselves better than they are. Coulter, who makes his feature debut after a career in television ("Sex and the City," "The Sopranos," etc.), does a remarkable job with his actors and with period sets and clothes. For once, the characters look as if they're actually wearing their clothes, rather than posing in them. The biggest standout of all is Robin Tunney as Reeves' kittenish part-time lover; she gracefully maneuvers from a purr to a roar with surprising effectiveness.

In 2020, Kino Lorber released a Special Edition Blu-ray, including two commentary tracks (a new one by entertainment journalist and author Bryan Reesman, and an older one by director Coulter), three short featurettes ("Re-creating Old Hollywood," "Hollywood Then and Now," and "Behind the Headlines"), deleted scenes, and trailers. It features two audio tracks, 5.1 Dolby Surround and 2.0 Lossless Audio.

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