Hol­ly­wood­land

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Stephen Romei

EX­TRAS: Fea­turettes Hol­ly­wood Then and Now and Re- cre­at­ing Old Hol­ly­wood ; di­rec­tor’s com­men­tary; deleted scenes

( M15+) Buena Vista Home En­ter­tain­ment ( fea­ture runs 121 min­utes) $ 39.95

THIS biopic on the life and death of television Su­per­man Ge­orge Reeves is three- star en­ter­tain­ment un­til it falls into a trap that snares most films to­day: it does not know when to stop. The fi­nal 40 min­utes or so are frus­trat­ing to watch. This is a shame be­cause di­rec­tor Allen Coul­ter does a good job in his fea­ture film de­but set­ting up the story: did Reeves shoot him­self, as the of­fi­cial ver­sion still has it, al­most 50 years later, or did some­one kill him, in­ten­tion­ally or ac­ci­den­tally? Reeves is pass­ably played by Ben Af­fleck. It’s easy to say he’s a wooden ac­tor, but only in the way it’s easy to say rain is wet. The orig­i­nal choice for the role, Kyle MacLach­lan, would have been the right one. How­ever, the rest of the main cast — Adrien Brody as a private eye in­ves­ti­gat­ing Reeves’s death, Diane Lane as Su­per­man’s sugar mummy Toni Man­nix and Bob Hoskins as her rep­til­ian hus­band, MGM boss Ed­die Man­nix, are in crack­ing form. The evo­ca­tion of old Hol­ly­wood is as­sured ( though any com­par­i­son with Ro­man Polan­ski’s Chi­na­town is sac­ri­lege) and the di­a­logue is sharp. ‘‘ I don’t have a prob­lem with a man drink­ing be­fore break­fast,’’ Man­nix tells her man of steel, ‘‘ but it’s im­po­lite not to of­fer me one.’’ As I say, that’s the highly en­joy­able first hour and a bit. Then it’s down­hill, like Reeves’s ca­reer. Even so, Coul­ter, a Texan who made his name with HBO se­ries such as The So­pra­nos, Sex and the City and Rome, may be a di­rec­tor to watch.

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