Based on a true story, private investigator Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) explores the death of TV's Superman, George Reeves (Ben Affleck), to determine whether he committed suicide or was murdered. Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins and Robin Tunney co-star.
Big question: Does "Hollywoodland" coolly capture L.A. in the '50s and its hush-hush culture that entangled celebrities, studio execs and cops?
Skip it: "Hollywoodland" is too laid-back about its investigation--the movie's search for the truth behind a celebrity death should be more than a passing curiosity--and ambiguities in the case come off as frustrating rather than fascinating. Like "L.A. Confidential" on sleeping pills, "Hollywoodland" makes digging for dirt seem like a household chore.
Catch it: If you want to test the truth to this mini-review, uttered by a fellow moviegoer after the screening: "That's a lot of movie for basically coming up with nothing."
Bottom line: Brody makes a good publicity-hungry snoop, but the movie--which is a good 20 minutes too long--lifelessly flattens his commitment to the case into more of a financial interest than an inquisitive one. It's been awhile since Affleck delivered on a performance this meaty; unfortunately, this look at the real-life Superman's demise never leaves the ground.
Bonus: Simo presses his witnesses hard, but he can't argue with one suspect's response: "When you're drunk, everything's funny." Well, everything except "Little Man."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Allen Coulter; screenplay by Paul Bernbaum; cinematography by Jonathan Freeman; edited by Michael Berenbaum; production design by Leslie McDonald; music by Marcelo Zarvos; produced by Glenn Williamson. A Focus Features release; opens Friday. Running time: 2:06. MPAA rating: R (for language, some violence and sexual content).
Louis Simo - Adrien Brody
George Reeves - Ben Affleck
Toni Mannix - Diane Lane
Eddie Mannix - Bob Hoskins
Helen Bessolo - Lois Smith
Leonore Lemmon - Robin Tunney
Laurie Simo - Molly ParkerCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times