Hollywoodland – A Movie Review

I’d heard this was a very good movie and, as it turns out, I heard right.

If you’re not familiar with the story of George Reeves, he is the man who played Superman in the old television series.  I mean, the OLD television series from the fifties.  Well, anyway, Reeves supposedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head because he was so distraught at the fact he’d been typecast as Superman and couldn’t find any other work once the series ended.  However, there have been theories abound that he did not in fact commit suicide, he had actually been murdered.

Thus, in comes Hollywoodland.  This movie deals with a private investigator, played by Adrien Brody, digging into the life of George Reeves, played by Ben Affleck, in order to find the true cause of the actor’s death.  What he unearths is a longstanding affair with a studio executive’s wife played by Diane Lane.  He also discovers that Reeves eventually left Lane’s character for a younger woman. 

Of course, you’re seeing all the angles on how and why Reeves died.  The only question is, does Brody’s character find the true cause of death? 

At times this film is very difficult to follow because of some disjointed story elements as well as an affinity on the actors’ part for mumbling.  However, overall, the plot is very good and the acting really is superb.  Lane and Brody are always exceptional, but even Affleck, perhaps sensing urgency to prove himself, puts on a heck of a performance.  He more than holds his weight with Lane, but his scenes with Brody, as you can imagine, are few. 

I recommend this film.

The Darjeeling Limited – A Movie Review

Not as eccentric as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or as dark as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited falls somewhere in-between and is an entity unto itself.  However, make no mistake; this is a Wes Anderson movie through-and-through.  In other words, it’s well-made and very fun to watch.

Owen Wilson plays Francis, the oldest of three siblings who calls his two brothers, Peter and Jack played (respectively played by Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) to India.  They meet on the train called the Darjeeling Limited with no idea as to Francis’ plans for them.  It turns out they haven’t seen each other in a year, and Francis wants them to reconnect as brothers on a spiritual quest.  However, he also has some other plans for them that he keeps to himself for as long as possible.

Wes Anderson is one of those creators that I prize.  He brings a unique vision to his projects that I both revere and respect, no matter what the subject matter or presentation.  The Darjeeling Limited was equal parts funny and dramatic, but it was never laugh-out-loud, nor did it bring a tear to your eye.  At times, though, it had you on the verge of both.

Furthermore, it delved into the relationships between brothers and delivered dialogue and ridiculous situations that, while certainly “Anderson” in nature, were still relatable to anyone with a brother.

The quiet interpretations of such outrageous characters by Wilson, Brody, and Schwartzman made me love them and, at times, detest them.  Really, though, isn’t that what real life is like with people? 

I’d like to say that Schwartzman is always wonderful, Owen presented himself as the actor I wish he always was, and Brody was a fine addition to the Anderson universe.  We’ve seen Schwartzman and Wilson with Anderson before, so I knew they’d knock it out of the park with his direction, but Brody was a pleasant surprise.  He played both the most grounded and troubled of the brothers, and that’s saying something.  There were also some special appearances by Anderson’s favorites that I won’t spoil for you.

A pleasant surprise on the DVD was the inclusion of the short film, Hotel Chevalier.  Roughly ten minutes, it serves as a prequel of sorts to The Darjeeling Limited and fleshes out some of Jason Schwartzman’s character and that of his ex-girlfriend played by Natalie Portman.  It’s not totally necessary to understand The Darjeeling Limited, but it does help the film make a bit more sense in terms of some references.

If you didn’t enjoy any of Wes Anderson’s previous films, there’s no reason to believe you’d like one set in India, primarily on a train, exploring the complex relationship of dysfunctional brothers.  However, while I still consider The Royal Tenenbaums my favorite of his work, The Darjeeling Limited was very cleverly made with delightfully peculiar characters.