Capsule Movie Reviews: Hollywoodland & District 9

Hollywoodland (2006) –  Adrian Brody plays PI Louis Simo who is hired to investigate the shooting death of Superman actor George Reeves by Reeves’ mother.  The death was originally ruled a suicide by LAPD, but Simo finds anomalies in the crime scene and shady motives in Reeves’ circle of associates to raise the possibility of murder. The film is anchored by Brody’s performance.  I usually find Ben Affleck to be wooden at best, but he turns in a decent performance as George Reeves.  Diane Lane is excellent as always.  Not a great movie by any standard, but it is enjoyable enough.

District 9 (2009) – An alien ship arrives over Johannesburg.  The aliens are all ill, and are eventually removed from the ship and packed into shantytowns.  Government Agent Wikus Van Der Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley, is head of the government effort to move the aliens from the shantytown to a homeland outside the city.  Wikus is exposed to alien biotechnology, which slowly turns him into an alien.  The first half of the movie is filmed in a mock documentary style.  Imagine Christopher Guest directing an adaptation of a Robert Heinlein novel.  The second half of the movie is a straightforward shoot ’em up.  The final scene, where the Wikus/Alien makes a rose out of a tin can as a gift for his human wife, is mawkish and overly sentimental.  Being a mawkish and overly sentimental bastard, my eyes misted up.  District 9 is one of the better movies I have seen in the past year and is well worth checking out.

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