Maps to the Stars (2014) Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska Directed by David Cronenberg Written by Bruce Wagner Prospero Pictures Anyone familiar with director David Cronenberg knows what they’re getting into: it’s gonna be a little creepy, it’s gonna be a little gory, it’s gonna be a little weird, and it’s gonna be a little brutal. Voilà: Maps to the Stars. Cronenberg (eXistenZ, Eastern Promises, Naked Lunch) sometimes gives us one or two sympathetic characters in his usual bucket of scorpions, though, sometimes not. He’s playing with the idea of sympathetic characters in this movie, because this movie takes place in, and is about, Hollywood, where appearances may seem pleasant, but given enough time, people will reveal some nastiness. And yes, it’s easy to mock people in Hollywood — real easy — but, as I would argue with all of Cronenberg’s work, saying people on the screen are assholes and evil motherfuckers is us projecting a little of our asshole-ness and evil motherfucker-ness on them. And that’s a hard ‘ask’ for some viewers, thus the two women that got up and walked out in the showing I went to. There are three main characters. First is Havana Segrand, an aging actress played by Julianne Moore, who recently won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Still Alice, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, and who has also been kinda fearless in the roles she takes on. She’s certainly willing to show her character in the worst of times, and moods, with one particular scene featuring her on the toilet giving orders to her “chore whore” Personal Assistant, Agatha. The second main character is also an actor, a thirteen-year-old just coming of drug rehab (!), Benjie, played a little woodenly by Evan Bird, though it is a tough role, having to be both charming in public, a bitter asshole to friends and family, and haunted by ghosts when alone. Benjie has the same agent as Havana, and he is actually one of the few people to show some humanity in the movie, when he more than once he says with sincerity that he thinks she is a great actress. The third character is the mysterious and obviously a little crazy Agatha, (Mia Wasikowska) who arrives in Hollywood via Greyhound bus, with burn scars on her body, and proceeds to rent a limo to take a tour. She soon lands a job as the PA to Havana, which gives her access to Banjie, and the Cronenberg-ness begins. Wasikowska is creepily great, and rides an edge between sympathy and horror. You feel for her and want the best for her, even as her craziness manifests. Maps to the Stars is Cronenberg’s fuck you to Hollywood, there’s no doubt. There is no love lost here, and the movie is an indictment, seemingly, of Hollywood and the whole Biz scene, with the (symbolic and real or imagined) incestuous relationships of the elders completely fucking up the younger generations. That is, Cronenberg seems to be saying that the bad decisions and relationships of the previous Hollywood power-brokers have now left us with a dysfunctional and awful movie system. Something has been lost, and Cronenberg, despite this kind of suicidal movie-note, wants no part of it. Be warned. This is David Cronenberg. You’re not gonna come out of this movie feeling good about the world. And yet, I feel he’s speaking the truth to power here. At least two other reviews I’ve read say Maps to the Stars lacks coherence or is scattered, but it’s not at all: everything leads to a logical, if brutal, ending. Perhaps, as Public Enemy said (in a slightly different context) “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” but, ¡Viva Cronenberg! See larger image Maps to the Stars [Blu-ray] New From: $8.60 USD In Stock Maps to the Stars (2014)John's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 5 Responses George March 8, 2015 It’s great. In its formatting, it’s like a blend of 1980s coming-of-age movie and Altman’s The Player. I struggled to love Cosmopolis, despite anticipation, but this just worked for me. Log in to Reply Paul Brian McCoy March 8, 2015 I can’t wait to see it. I was pleasantly surprised by Cosmopolis and quite enjoyed it, once I got a feel for what was going on. Now I want a Chief of Theory. Log in to Reply George March 8, 2015 Cosmopolis had a stack of things that should have made it for me, and I like the “edited language”, but – well. I intend to give it another go once I’ve given it some decent “forgetting time”. Count me in for a Chief of Theory too, though. 🙂 Chief of Theory – In fact, I’m going to steal that for the title of my new (just invented) film about a metaphysical detective who uses a “Narrative Computer” which can insert new facts into the universe, to help him solve his cases regardless of the initial available evidence. Since these newly inserted facts must have consistent histories which connect to them, whenever he uses the N/C other small adjustments are made to keep the overall narrative in balance. This has side-effects. His bathroom door opens the other way. People’s personalities and appearances subtly change due to their new backgrounds. One case, though, requires him to push things further than he ever has before… Things probably don’t go well; the world reverts. The sequel will be called Chief of Theory II: Back to Blackboard… Shawn EH March 11, 2015 Sounds very Dick-sian. Nothing I’ve read here would deter me from Maps to the Stars. I can often go along with Cronenberg’s worst moods. George March 11, 2015 Ha, it does a bit right enough. That’s stream-of-consciousness for you. Yep, Maps is good. Meanwhile, I rewatched Cosmopolis and having realised what was actually bothering me (there’s no ambient noise on the soundtrack) I managed to enjoy it a whole lot more. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.