Hollywoodland (2006)

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama / Mystery
Focus Features || R - 126 minutes - $29.98 || February 6, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-02-02


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Allen Coulter
Writer(s): Paul Bernbaum (written by)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney


Theatrical Release Date: 2006-09-08


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Recreating Old Hollywood" Featurette
  • "Behind the Headlines" Featurette
  • "Hollywood Then and Now" Featurette


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Hollywoodland attempts to re-tell the story behind the death of TV icon George Reeves better known as Superman. The film is directed by veteran TV director Allen Coulter who has directed episodes for shows like "The Sopranos", "Rome", "Six Feet Under" and "The X-Files". Coulter gives the film a nice film-noir touch as he explores into the life of George Reeves with focus on his struggles in becoming an actor and finally to his untimely death.

Ben Affleck no doubt gives one of the best performances in his career to date as Reeves but then again it's not hard to top his performances in Daredevil, Gigli or Armageddon. Trying to solve the crime is private investigator Louis Simo played by Adrien Brody. Simo tries to put the pieces together and find out the truth behind Reeves' death. Unfortunately, Simo himself has his own problems with his wife who he recently separated from and his relationship with his assistant.

The film itself is beautifully shot by Jonathan Freeman, who also has a background in TV. The overall look of the film is definitely the strongest aspect of Hollywoodland. I felt that Coulter and his crew did a fine job in recreating the atmosphere and mood of that "Golden Age" of Hollywood. I think where the film does not work is in the subplots of the Adrien Brody character. I felt that most of the scenes with Simo, his wife and his son were repetitive throughout and frankly, weren't very interesting. I would have liked to see more scenes between Reeves and Toni Mannix (played fantastically by Diane Lane) whose relationship was much more interesting given the fact that Mannix's husband openly supported her affair with Reeves. The film has a fantastic ensemble cast with the previously mentioned Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody and Diane Lane as well as Bob Hoskins, Molly Parker, Robin Tunney, Dash Mihok and Jeffrey DeMunn among many more.

While the film is good but not great it is still worth watching. Some people may compare it to such classics like L.A. Confidential or Chinatown but it never really gets close to the level of those films. Nonetheless, it is still leagues above the recent disaster known as The Black Dahlia. I liked the fact that Coulter didn't try and solve the death of Reeves for the audience, whereas in ,i>The Black Dahlia, the film tries to create some illogical hypothesis as to how Elizabeth Short was murdered. Instead, Coulter goes into several possibilities and theories as to how George Reeves died. Was it a suicide or was it murder? Ultimately, we'll never know and I thought Coulter's choice of not solving the mystery for his audience was a good choice. I think fans of George Reeves and the classic Superman television show will appreciate the fact that Coulter respects Reeves and his family in that way.

The film is definitely worth seeing for its ability to capture the atmosphere of that supposed "Golden Age" of Hollywood, fantastic cinematography and great performances from the ensemble cast.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Looking at the back cover, one may think that the extras are actually more than they are. Unfortunately, Focus doesn't really go into too much detail with the short featurettes included in the DVD.

The first extra is Recreating Old Hollywood which runs about 7 minutes. This extra discusses the many changes the actors went through to look like their real life counterparts. The cast and crew also discuss the costumes, sound, make-up and sets that aided in recreating the mood and atmosphere of that time period.

Behind the Headlines is the next extra that also runs about 7 minutes. In this extra, director Allen Coulter discusses how he attempted to tell the story as accurately as he could. He also makes it clear that he did not want to make a biopic about Reeves but rather a film from the point of view of Louis Simo, the private investigator. Also included are short clips from actual Hollywood historians who give even more detail into that time period.

The final featurette is Hollywood: Then and Now which runs roughly 8 minutes. This featurette focuses more on the disintegration of the studio system in the 50's and 60's to how the studios are currently. The cast and crew as well as film historians discuss the details of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood and how all the actors were trained to do more than just act. The extra also lightly touches upon the corruption of the studio bosses as well as the rivalry the film executives had with the emerging success of television.

Also included in the DVD are 3 short deleted scenes that run about 5 minutes total. While the scenes are all well acted and directed, none of them ultimately add much to the film. However, the scenes are actually deleted scenes and not extended or alternate scenes we already see in the film. Very often, DVD's include "deleted scenes" but they are very short sequences or scenes we already see in the film with very minor changes made. Here, at least the DVD producers give us actual scenes.

Rounding out the extras is a commentary by director Allen Coulter. The commentary is mostly filled with superlatives that Coulter gives to all his actors. He gushes over their performances, especially Adrien Brody. If you can get past all that, Coulter actually does give a good commentary in terms of discussing all the detail that went into making the film. Coulter talks about details that no one would pick out but him but it is still fascinating to see how much minor detail went into the film.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

As I mentioned earlier, the overall look of the film is perhaps its strongest attribute. Because of that, I was hoping the DVD producers didn't mess up the video transfer and thank god they didn't. The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen which bring out so many of the rich colors and textures the film has.

The audio is equally as good and is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and an option for the same track in French. While there are no huge explosions or massive action sequences in the film, the classic noir score by Marcelo Zarvos comes of beautifully.



.::OVERALL::.

While the film is still worth watching I couldn't help but feel disappointed in the DVD package Focus put together. I would have liked to have seen much more detail into that time period. I think that time period of the studio system and what is known as "The Golden Age" in Hollywood is one of the most fascinating time periods in American history. I think the extras only lightly touched upon the topics of that time period such as the corruption of the studio bosses and the rivalry between television and film. Also very little was actually shown in terms of the actual making of Hollywoodland in terms of sets, costumes and the great music the film had. Overall, it still a solid DVD package and the film is definitely worth watching for its recreation of that time period as well as strong performances from the ensemble cast.