Trying to follow in the undercover footsteps of CHINATOWN/’74 and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL/’97, Allen Coulter’s HOLLYWOODLAND tasks Adrien Brody’s shady P.I. with digging up the truth behind the apparent suicide of tv Superman George Reeves, played by a blander than bland Ben Affleck in flashbacks. Paul Bernbaum’s script has a brief splash of suspense when Brody starts believing his own puffery about the suicide really being a murder, but the case feels nonexistent, a shaggy dog story as unconvincing as it is uninteresting. Worse, Coulter, a prolific helmer of high-end cable fare (BOARDWALK EMPIRE; THE SOPRANOS; HOUSE OF CARDS) is too easily satisfied with boilerplate visual cues to suggest all things past-present. No plug-in tableside telephones, but lots of stiff collars, gloves & grainy, desaturated color. If anything, shouldn’t the colors be more, rather than less, vibrant? Not only to suggest a sunnier & less congested L.A., but in counterintuitive dramatic contrast to the story’s downward curve. BTW: A big climatic moment that has Reeves’ supporting role in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY/’53 snipped out because he’s too identified with Superman is a long debunked Hollywood myth.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: When Diane Lane’s Hollywood dowager grows jealous watching her stud muffin sniff at younger competition, echoes of Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BOULEVARD/’50 can be heard. Classic ‘50s Hollywood without the period filter.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: Robert Wagner’s recent memoir of old Hollywood, YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, is a nifty surprise. A good read with a feel for the times, mores, lost spots & boîtes.