Opening 15 Feb 2007
Two Supermen die in this film noir set in 1959, and it’s up to you to solve the mysteries in this first film by Allen Coulter. The Los Angeles PD investigates the death of Superman Nr. 1, declares suicide and quickly closes the case. Detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody who looks a lot like Sean Penn in this movie) collects clues which indicate murder. George Reeves (Ben Affleck) becomes Superman Nr. 2, begins an affair with the director’s wife Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), and also meets his demise. Detective Simo sees parallels as many of the same people from movie mogul Ed Mannix down to starlet Leonore Lemmon are at both the scenes of the crimes. This is Hollywood after all – a tight, incestuous group of powerful men and their women who use sex and crime to obtain their goals. Detective Simo is a raving innocent by comparison and must suffer some cuffs to the head and threats, not to mention grief from his ex-wife, as well as his son whose small world collapses with the death of his hero, Superman.
New versions of old film noir stories seem to be in fashion; we just had The Black Dahlia which is similar, and both are supposedly based on true stories. Hollywoodland jumps back and forth between scenes as if the editor thinks that we can’t concentrate longer than 30 seconds. I’ll admit that concentration is difficult because it also seems to go very, very slowly as Simo unwraps yet another stick of gum. The lines are trite (“She was only looking for love”) with probably the best one being, “Actors can’t always act; sometimes they have to work.” There are two main plots and several subplots which go off in unrelated tangents and don’t necessarily facilitate the flow, such as the love life of Simo and a bizarre case of a delusional, jealous husband who murders his wife, as well as mentions of Frank Sinatra, Gone with the Wind, and Rita Hayworth to remind us which time warp we are in. Ben Affleck actually got some award nominations for best supporting actor for some reason. The weirdest thing, which probably isn’t a coincidence, is that Christopher Reeve (same last name as “George”) also played Superman and also died under unfortunate circumstances. (Becky Tan)