Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hollywoodland (2006)

A while back I came up with a test for potential movies to watch. It was called the “Ben Affleck Test,” and it was very simple. For any movie that I was asked to watch, I just asked, “Is Ben Affleck in it?” If the answer was yes, then I didn’t watch. It’s similar to the Keanu Reeves test. Trust me, even though I made exceptions for some Kevin Smith movies (e.g. “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks II”), this test saved me from “Gigli” and “Daredevil,” and it allowed me to bail out of the Kevin Smith crapfest “Jersey Girl” soon enough to avoid hysterical blindness.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself thoroughly enjoying Affleck in “Hollywoodland.” This tale of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the old tv series, features a completely non-annoying Affleck doing some real acting. “Hollywoodland” apparently sticks pretty close to history in its depiction of Reeve’s career. His “Superman” tv show was wildly successful, of course, but what he craved was movie stardom. Unfortunately, Reeves was typecast as Superman, and more serious roles eluded him. He ultimately died from what was officially designated a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In “Hollywoodland,” Adrien Brody plays a private investigator hired to prove that Reeves was murdered, which was a widely publicized conspiracy theory at the time. Jumping back and forth in time, the film simultaneously tells the stories of Reeves’s career and the murder mystery spawned by his death.

This film won’t spawn any cults or change your views of the universe, but it is excellent viewing. Brody and Affleck both give excellent performances. We expect quality from Adrien Brody, of course, but I don’t know what got into Affleck. Maybe he was as sick of the old Ben Affleck as the rest of us were.

3.5 stars out of 5