A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

film and television
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

HOLLYWOODLAND (article first published : 2007-03-18)

After a small supporting role in Gone With the Wind, American actor George Reeves went on to accept an acting job which, although it morphed him into a superhero with under-12s, was a character with which he became so heavily identified that it seemed almost impossible to forward his career from that point on.

The role was the Man of Steel, Superman in the monochrome 1953 television series of that name which, when it went into national syndication three years later, going on to be shot in colour, proved a sensation.

For Reeves, however, it was a blessing in disguise, proving to be his Kryptonite. The hamminess of the role and the subsequent dearth of job offers it spurred saw the actor becoming increasingly depressed. This situation, in this first movie by director Allen Coulter, hitherto noted for his work on the TV series Sex in the City, Rome and The Sopranos, provides one of four suggested scenarios for the death of Reeves - suicide.

In April of 1959, the square-jawed actor was found in his bedroom, his blood splattered across a wall behind his naked body, in a home where four other people, including his girlfriend, were socialising.

Coulter's high-gloss whodunnit, bouncing between flashbacks, flash-forwards and layers of views from different perspectives, suggests three other possible motives for the single-shot killing, which has remained one of Hollywood's biggest mysteries.

Was it perhaps the young girlfriend, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney), who killed Reeves? She was, after all, something of a gold-digger and showed very little emotion over her lover's death. Also, she was hugely disappointed when she realised Reeves was not as loaded as she thought, but was in fact long a kept man, the toy boy lover of doting Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the still-sexy but ageing socialite wife of the MGM studio's head honcho, Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins).

Was it perhaps the distraught Toni who did the dirty deed, Reeves having ditched her, leaving her hurt and betrayed, discarded as a fading flower in favour of pretty new bud Leonore? Perhaps it was the work of the shady team of heavies who connived with Toni's husband, an influential man who, in spite of his open marriage, did not like seeing his wife hurt and gave her whatever her heart desired?

All these twisting, dangling plot strands become entwined during investigations into Reeves death by a two-bit gumshoe, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody, who surely has the largest nostrils in showbiz). He enters the picture when Reeves's mother cries foul and conspiracy theories start to flicker.

The result is an intriguing, if excessively and unnecessarily cluttered, tale which, painstakingly recreating the Hollywood of the 50s, might have worked better had the script dispensed with the whole detective angle and concentrated more on the fascinating human story of Reeves.

Ben Affleck gained 10kg to play Reeves, a man full of doubt and self-loathing, and it's nice to see him back on good acting form after a string of dismal screen efforts. But it's pushing praise a little too far, if you ask me, that his performance here won him the prize for best actor at the recent Venice Film Festival.

The true star of this film is lovely Lane. She is superb, an explosive mix of vulnerability and vamp, as a woman aware she is passing her prime but, like Reeves with his loosening grasp on fame, trying to hold on to it for all she is worth.

Although the structure of Allen's film tends to get too tricksy at times, a shade pretentious even, with some hoary clichés - the hard-drinking private eye, the swaggering studio head, the snappy one-liners and tough-broad dames -his two-hour drama is handsome and remains captivating.

And, for good measure, it swirls some harsh spotlights around the hollowness of Hollywood and fickleness of fame. Rating: 7/10. - Billy Suter




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart