Hollywoodland (2006)

hollywoodlandStarring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Kathleen Robertson, Lois Smith, Phillip MacKenzie, Larry Cedar

Directed by Allen Coulter

Expectations: Low.

threestar


I kicked off my run through the Superman films with Superman and the Mole Men, so it seems somewhat fitting that my last review before Man of Steel should come around full circle. Hollywoodland is centered around the death of George Reeves, star of Superman and the Mole Men and the TV series it spawned: The Adventures of Superman. Hindsight reveals this as a landmark series, and as part of the foundation for the superhero genre that now populates our multiplex theaters every summer. At the time, though, things were not quite all wine and roses. Reeves wasn’t especially fond of the Superman role, even though it gave him fame among the kiddos. If we buy into the film’s character being similar to the real Reeves, he struggled and hoped to get more well-respected roles (much like the Jayne Mansfield character in The Jayne Mansfield Story).

Hollywoodland combines two things I generally try to stay away from in film: movies about Hollywood (as in the filmmaking industry, not the city) and celebrity biopics. The film definitely had moments that reminded me why I feel this way, but the narrative is varied and interesting enough to largely sideline these personal issues. The film is definitely too slow and longer than it needs to be, though. First time filmmaker Allen Coulter tries to fight the boredom back with a time-jumping narrative structure, moving between the investigation of Reeves’s death and flashbacks of his troubled life. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it feels like a crutch used to spice up a slow-moving storyline.

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Superman and the Mole Men (1951)

superman mole menSuperman and the Mole Men (1951)
AKA Superman and the Strange People, The Unknown People (Episode title when re-broadcast as a two-parter for Adventures of Superman)

Starring George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, Jeff Corey, Walter Reed, J. Farrell MacDonald, Stanley Andrews, Ray Walker, Hal K. Dawson

Directed by Lee Sholem

Expectations: Low.

twohalfstar


Alright, who’s ready for some Superman? In anticipation of Zack Snyder’s take on Supes, Man of Steel, I’ll be running through 11 films that have previously taken a crack at the last survivor of the planet Krypton. Now what exactly those 11 films are is for me to know and you to find out, but expect things that line up with the grand Silver Emulsion tradition of balancing the mainstream with the not-so mainstream. So once again, who’s ready for some Superman? I can’t hear you! Are you ready?

Oh, so you are ready for some Superman? Well… hmm… this is awkward… in that case, you’ll have to wait. Mostly. Because Superman and the Mole Men isn’t all that much of a Superman movie. He’s in it, and he a few heroic and super things, but mostly it’s about Clark Kent, some intolerant townspeople and a few balding mole men. I had incorrectly assumed that the title referred to some struggle that would occur between Superman and the mole men, and I imagined Superman punching short, squinty-eyed guys in the face, but instead he’s actually protecting the li’l guys! This makes Superman and the Mole Men something of an interesting allegory for the Communist scare in America, and even if it didn’t deliver the super thrills I wanted, it was nice to see Superman protecting the weak and misunderstood mole men. Of course, I would have also accepted him punching them in the face, but when I first envisioned that alternate path I had no way of knowing just how harmless they’d end up being.

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