When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he's no longer breathing.
Struggling private investigator Louis Simo treats his work more as a means to make a living than a want to do right by what few clients he has. Through connections with the investigation firm for which he used to work, Simo is hired by Helen Bessolo to investigate the death of her son, actor George Reeves. Reeves was best known for his title role in Adventures of Superman (1952), a role which he always despised, in part since it typecast him as a "cartoon", despite it bringing him a certain fame. His June 16, 1959 death by a single gunshot wound while in his bedroom in his Los Angeles home was ruled a suicide by the police, the death which occurred when the house was filled with people. Reeves' story is told in part in flashback as Simo, who is trying to make a name for himself with this case, talks to or tries to talk to some of the players involved, most specifically the wife of MGM General Manager E.J. Mannix, Toni Mannix, with who Reeves was having a relatively open and ... Written by
"Hollywoodland" intercuts a biopic of the last eight years in the life of actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck) with an investigation by scummy private eye Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) into the circumstances of Reeves' death. (He allegedly shot himself in his upstairs bedroom while his friends were having a party downstairs.) Though a bit draggy in spots and afflicted with the overall brown look all too common in films set in the recent past, "Hollywoodland" not only flawlessly evokes the 1950's visually but tells a compelling neo-noir tale about ambition, greed, sex and the lure of stardom. It's a film for those who liked "Chinatown" and "L.A. Confidential" but I thought it was better than either of those because it wasn't quite as relentlessly cynical and despairing. Bob Hoskins is superb as MGM second-in-command Eddie Mannix (explaining how he fits into this tale is impossible without involving a spoiler), Adrien Brody proves that there IS life for him after "The Pianist," and Ben Affleck - well, nobody had to direct him in how to play a star on the skids these days!
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