Friday, September 08, 2006

Hollywoodland

As soon as the lights came up after the screening of Hollywoodland I knew I wouldn't have the drive to write a full review. It's one of those movies that you can see potential in but that you can't work up energy to root for: unfulfilling.

The film is about an investigation into the death of TV's first Superman George Reeves (Ben Affleck, exceptionally well cast). Choosing an unsolved mystery as a story is not necessarily a problem, but it requires deft handling. This type of crime film comes with an obvious storytelling risk: no ending. Choosing to focus on the investigation, which is obviously doomed (see also: unsolved) is where the problem comes in I think. That's shooting yourself in the foot. It makes for impotent drama. A straightforward approach to the story of George Reeves would've been more effective. The investigation and its attempts at parallel emotional journeys don't fuse well with the flashbacks.

I felt bad for Adrien Brody who shoulders the impotent half of the film. He's had a rough time following up The Pianist. I enjoy him as an actor but his intensity is wasted in this film. You spend all of his scenes waiting to get back to the Superman story. That's where the film engages interest, even if it still doesn't dive deep enough into the murky psychologies it introduces.
C+

Since it's not a special film overall the big question is this: Can Ben Affleck make it to the Supporting Actor Oscar shortlist? This is the kind of role they love played by the kind of actor they love to reward for career CPR. But will that be enough to generate votes since Hollywoodland won't be a contender elsewhere?

18 comments:

vince said...

I haven't seen it, but I had a feeling Affleck would be good. I haven't liked him in anything he's done so far, but I had a good feeling about this one (as far as his performance).

Anonymous said...

Alec Baldwin was in a similar situation with The Cooler and managed a nomination, so there's a shot.

vince said...

It's funny that anonymous mentioned this fact, because the last time Affleck hosted SNL, the only funny part was Alec Baldwin being incorporated into his opening monologue.

Also, they both played Jack Ryan. And, also, they both never quite achieved the box office expectations that were hoisted upon him.

StinkyLulu said...

Hmm. I was wondering if I should see this for Diane Lane as Supporting Actress. You don't mention her. Any thoughts?

adam k. said...

How special did you think the performance was, Nathaniel? Would you nominate him?

It's kind of hard to imagine him placing even if he's good, cause if the movie doesn't succeed or even engender interest, then what exactly are they rewarding him for? His crappy failed career? He hasn't had a success in ages. He's like a smug, much less interesting version of Colin Farrell (who also, it must be said, has been in failed film after failed film). I personally kind of hate him.

NATHANIEL R said...

i thought Ben Affleck was good and at this point i'd nominate him I think. But we haven't seen that many contenders yet so that's not saying a lot.

as for Diane Lane. I'm sure there will be people out there that love her performance but I felt it was average. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but I wanted more.

15 year old blogger said...

I know that this has nothing to do with this post but here are a few little scenes from Little Children:

http://www.allocine.fr/film/video_gen_cfilm=61682.html

And watch the trailer again. There is an extra scene, cough, sex, cough, actually there are two of them at the end of the trailer.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I think he could get a nomination quite easily if they really up the publicity for a campaign. Like, whatever studio it is needs to be committed to the fact that he will be their only nom so the thing needs to be ALL ABOUT AFFLECK.

I'd say he has more of a shot atm than people like Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson, despite the love for those guys.

adam k. said...

The studio is Focus, and they know how to campaign. But I suspect most of their campaigning will be for some other film, since Hollywoodland isn't cutting it.

RC said...

i agree with kamakaze & adam, if they campaigned hard for Afflec I imagine he could get in...but I'm not sure that I would nominate his performance...

I sort of think it's the best that Affleck could do, but it's not one of those Amazing performances.

I enjoyed the film when I saw it this evening...i thought it was a good film and Diane Lane was maybe Average...but her average is pretty good.

I was really impressed with Robin Tunney.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Mikkel said...

If Matt Damon makes it into the oscar race - and with The Departed, The Good Shepherd and Margaret, he just might - it could help Afflecks chances as well.

At least some people will make a 'funny story' out of it (both not having been nominated since GWH).

NATHANIEL R said...

good call mikkel, the press would be likely to eat that up.

Anonymous said...

He's just taken Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. Mirren gets Actress (duh!).

He may get in the mix yet.

Rob

Emma said...

C+? Ouch.

Marcelo said...

Mr. Affleck wins in Venice and becomes a possibility for the Academy Awards.

The world may be coming to an end.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Ooh, now THAT is interesting.

Focus would be stupid to not campaign for Affleck now. If he's won at Venice then that's a big starting point right there.

And the Affleck/Damon thing has been on the cards for a while. They would eat that shit up for breakfast, right?

Beau said...

i have a feeling affleck will get nom'd. personally, i felt it a good performance, but there wasn't really a kick ass scene for him to do. the only one that comes to mind is his confrontation with lane 2/3 into the film. beyond that, it's just him being charming.

loved lane in this film, though i did feel she could've used more scenes to flesh out her character. one actor who i really loved here was robin tunney. scene with brody in her former fiance's house where she's collecting reeve's travellers checks is pheonomenal. goes from temptress to vulnerable to all-out-bitch in a matter of fifteen seconds. ("But, your honor...") TERRIFIC STUFF.

NATHANIEL R said...

mystic --i'm kind of a tough grader so a C+ from me isn't really that bad. It's very much an average score. Like good but no great shakes.

beau --tunney is a pretty reliable actor. It's strange to me that she doesn't get more high profile work... though she does stay employed so maybe that's all that matters.