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:: Hollywoodland

This is director Allen Coulter’s debut film, and it takes a unique look at the famous Superman through the tragic life of one of the many actors who donned the cape. Perhaps best known for his work on the hit drama “The Sopranos,” Coulter’s murder-mystery surrounding the death of the former superhero personality is an ideal way to brush up on a little Man of Steel nostalgia

There is hardly anyone likeable in Hollywoodland, notable the various parasites that surround the one appealing character in the film, Ben Affleck's George Reeves - the actor who played Superman in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman, and who apparently committed suicide in 1959. The premise is that Reeves didn't kill himself but was murdered, and it is Adrien Brody's fictional private investigator who takes us on a journey to find out the truth.

The film begins with Reeves's death, then backpeddles a decade earlier, showing him to be an out-of-work actor reluctant to take on the Superman role: the TV series is a cheap, badly scripted affair and he fears being typecast. When the show is a hit, his fears are confirmed, and he is unable to land other roles.

The cast, sets, and cinematography are all superb. The period recreation is quite harsh, reflecting the characters in the story. Affleck is excellent - he plays Reeves with considerable charm - as are Diane Lane as Toni Mannix, an ageing beauty in love with a younger man, and Bob Hoskins's tough-but-tender movie mogul. Brody does what he can with an ill-conceived role, that ultimately detracts from the main storyline. Still, “Hollywoodland” will no doubt entertain moviegoers looking for an engaging mystery despite its lack of any real closure.

As for the DVD extras we should be disappointed to see very few, considering the enormous amount of material available, particularly on the conspiracy theory behind George Reeves' death.

DVD Extras

Audio commentary by director Allan Coulter
Deleted scenes (five minutes)
Production featurettes: recreating old Hollywood, Behind The Headlines, and Hollywood Then & Now