Maps to the Stars Screen 31 articles

Maps to the Stars


Maps to the Stars Poster
  • It turns out to be less a Cronenberg movie than un film de Bruce Wagner, the Hollywood satirist responsible for 1989’s dismally unfunny Scenes From The Class Struggle In Beverly Hills. Reportedly, Maps To The Stars was written around the same time, only now finally making it to the screen; that explains why so many of the jokes feel moldy, despite constant updated pop-culture references (Anne Hathaway, Mad Men,Chuck Lorre, etc.).

  • The events we see feel so weightless, so adrift in a narrative lacking even the barest sense of momentum that the score only serves as a promise for all that the experience of Maps to the Stars doesn’t provide. Even the regular appearance of the supernatural via several ghosts (Havanna’s mother, played by Sarah Gadon, shows up to berate her daughter as talentless; a child Benjie visited on her hospital deathbed appears to torment his nights) doesn’t help the film shake off its doldrums.

  • Wild Palms creator Bruce Wagner’s script for Maps to the Stars is, frankly, a complete mess of ideas that feels like an awkward marring of the writer’s own bones to pick (he has many) and trying to find material more suited to the hypnotic powers of this director. The result is something of a fascinating misfire, still shot and edited with the precise authority that has defined Cronenberg’s recent period, but jumbled in the search for narrative control and originality.

  • A sardonic ensemble piece taking the knife to Hollywood, Cronenberg’s collaboration with screenwriter Bruce Wagner has echoes of Magnolia, The Player and Mulholland Drive. It is for this reason, perhaps – not to mention the fact that the script spent twenty years in development – that the satire in the film feels rather dated: what may have seemed an exaggerated parody in the 1990s has in many regards been overtaken by reality.

  • It must be noted that Cronenberg has been for some time now a master of shot-reverse shot; his precision in collapsing and expanding space between people and executing rack focuses is Polanski/Fincher-level masterful... Still, I can’t get around the fact that this is a terrible script, and I’m not sure Cronenberg grasps that that’s an insurmountable problem. A salute, though, to Mia Wasikowska, in the year’s most thankless great performance.

  • Damaged children consciously becoming like their toxic parents, a motif that doesn't seem to have much to do with Hollywood (if anything it should be the opposite, immature parents longing to become like their children) - then again this is all sensibility, Cronenberg taking this rather overheated material and making it interesting.

  • Wagner’s script hints at the existence of a kind of karmic telekinesis whereby... Essentially, it’s the weaponization of fantasy—a genuinely fascinating moral idea, and also a deeply Cronenbergian one. I wish Maps to the Stars had spent more time in this queasy zone between sci-fi and psychological horror, and less in the by-now overfamiliar landscape of entertainment-industry satire, where the director seems both less original and less at home.

  • The director, David Cronenberg, creates a tony cheap-thrill atmosphere for damaged people on the make. The screenwriter, Bruce Wagner, piles on profane, portentous subplots as if clicking together dirty Lego bricks. The result is more oppressive than expressive—except for the actors, especially Moore.

  • It’s certainly not a coincidence that Maps’ parade of beyond-the-grave hallucinations takes place at the epicentre of popular illusionism, but the film doesn’t do nearly as much as it could have with the idea of a haunted Hollywood. In lieu of something truly demonic, Cronenberg and Wagner have conjured up a wry poltergeist of a movie, one that’s more obstreperous than scary.

  • ...One of David Cronenberg's most subtly strange movies in years... It's an infuriating movie, and that is possibly the point. It feels like a ten-part TV mini-series which has been inelegantly compressed to feature length. There are so many quote marks littered on to the screen that it's hard to make finite judgements on elements which may be knowingly bad or just bad bad.

  • While not the director's canniest piece of filmmaking, it's unquestionably his angriest, politically motivated achievement. Every missive hits its target hard with a comedy-horror combo aimed squarely at the kind of commercial stupidity that Cronenberg has avoided throughout his 45-year career. Now we know why.

  • Maps to the Stars suffers from a too-little-too-late script by Bruce Wagner, but Cronenberg somewhat redeems it with an astonishing directorial choice. The vast majority of shots isolate one person in the frame, thus suggesting narcissistic self-enclosure and causing the moments when a connection between two characters is made—usually involving sex or violence—to pack a double whammy, even when the physical contact occurs just outside the frame.

  • Like all of Cronenberg’s films, especially the outliers, Maps to the Stars will, I suspect, grow richer in time with the receding of its most au courant elements. A “map to the stars” can be two different things: a tacky accessory of celebrity culture, or a diagram of cosmic energy.

  • As a Canadian outsider, Cronenberg brings a cool distance to Wagner’s vision of how Tinseltown’s celebs and exploiters are too crazed to see how their hungers are consuming them; fire is the movie’s purging force. Yet the doomed kids at the center of the film, the sweet, sick pyromaniac Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), newly released from a Florida psychiatric hospital, and her Bieber-esque movie-brat bro Benjie (Evan Bird), just out of rehab at 13, are portrayed with tenderness and compassion.

  • By the time you get to the end, Cronenberg has pinned all his people against the screen like so many laboratory specimens, ripped off their scabs, and vivisected their longings: an old wound here, a long--deferred dream there. Still, the movie sticks with you. It's a fleeting nightmare that refuses to fade.

  • Wagner's crude but strong metaphor of the price of incest, the mythological madness visited on violators by an avenging spirit of their own making, is worked out with reprocessed and familiar narrative details, but the banality of these details is masked, even overriden, by Cronenberg's controlled eye and sense of mood—his rendering of intimate violence with apocalyptic grandeur.

  • The mannered dialogue of [Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars]—by Don DeLillo and Bruce Wagner, respectively—is made to sound deliberately unnatural, almost like a sort of code. One can easily imagine the straightforward anti-Hollywood satire that most other filmmakers would have made out of Wagner's script. But by locking Wagner's language in their patented echo chamber, Cronenberg and company render it more provocative.

  • Far from being "a mess on the screen," the movie struck me as dense, consistently brilliant and very much of a piece with the work of a director I have always admired. "Maps to the Stars" is "Mullholland Dr." on a different type of acid... What elevates the movie in the end, though, is not its apparent heartlessness, but precisely the fact that its central relationship—that between haunted, borderline schizophrenic siblings Bird and Wasikowska—is deeply humane and universally resounding.

  • So many delicious ingredients, but do they coalesce into a meaningful whole for what is Cronenberg’s first film shot in the USA? In a word, yes: this is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy if you like your laughs dark, featuring characters so vile you can’t help but be impressed.

  • Cronenberg's hand in directing is to be enjoyed at every moment, slowly but surely building a relationship with the history of cinema and with contemporary "non-reality" (again, life as storytelling), that cannot but connect with an idea of liberty as a last frontier.

  • When Maps to the Stars gets most interesting, it is close in spirit to Rivette. It is a fairy tale and very mythological (so grusome, of course), and is not only about life as performance, but about something stranger and deeper. No one owns their own dialogue in Maps to the Stars. Lines are shared and repeated in some sort of weird whirl of tone and meaning.

  • With a very mischievous script by Bruce Wagner, Maps breaks little new ground (Hollywood is full of needy narcissists — who knew?), but it was the best, most scabrous fun to be had here.

  • Already misunderstood as démodé showbiz satire, David Cronenberg’s viciously funny Maps to the Stars (the Canadian master’s first feature to be filmed in the US) plays stronger as a volatile comic nightmare of Hollywood ego, insecurity, and starfucking despair.

  • It’s star-studded event movie and subversive art-house film all at once. It simultaneously fulfills and deflates the inherent contradictions of glamorous film festivals such as Cannes, and does so with a gloriously macabre sense of humor. The irony is surely not lost on Cronenberg, who has of late been directly engaging with the infrastructure of mainstream cinema in the postmillennial era.

  • The work [of veteran filmmakers usually] becomes tatty, dulled with each new iteration... With Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg has avoided both of these possible fates and created a pair of astute films which interface with each other in ways that are distinctive from the films (and interests) for which he is known.

  • The film’s lack of connective tissue marks it as an especially weird product: scenes often jump from one to the next without establishing shots. It’s best to not think of them as scenes at all but different enclosures in one big open zoo of demented folly and happenstance. The static low angles and measured pacing are quietly disarming, calling attention to the plastic nature of this staged reality. It’s a type of faux-naturalism, like something produced by an Alien Sensory Ethnography Lab.

  • The helpless tragic momentum and black-mass obscurity of Cronenberg and Wagner’s mythology carry the film through to its promised end, studded with some serviceably twisted barbs. The vaguely dated timelessness of Cronenberg’s sleek look and feel suits that schema, much as it did with Cosmopolis and eXistenZ. And far from being a satirical funhouse mirror to Hollywood’s own funhouse mirror, the filmmaker ends not with horror at destruction, but very nearly a sense of atavistic wonder.

  • Surpassing Sunset Boulevard in its contempt, Maps may be the most doggedly desecratory and generally Hollywood-hostile movie made in Hollywood since the disastrous 1970 adaptation of Myra Breckinridge effectively terminated the career of its director Michael Sarne (the London-born child of Central European Jewish refugees). Cronenberg and Wagner are implacable in their joint jeremiad. Their Lala-land is a perpetual Night of the Living Dead, in broad daylight with palm trees.

  • MAPS TO THE STARS is a consistently surprising, meticulously observed film, poignant at times, often hilarious... Missteps include an abundance of extraneous ghost sightings and a Greek tragic structure that is either not fleshed out enough or completely unnecessary. But overall, another important work from one of the greats.

  • As collaborators, David Cronenberg and Bruce Wagner seem naturally suited; they share a rare ability to combine bleakness with humor... To say that Wagner deglamorizes the movie business is like saying that Upton Sinclair de-glamorized the meat-packing industry, and the medium of film allows Wagner to make his audience visualize (instead of merely imagine) the hallucinations that plague his characters.

  • A picture that is almost certifiably insane can confuse viewers -- is the nut factor glossing over what might be wrong with it? No. Because, would I want it any other way? Of course not. Hollywood satires or explications seem only to work when the director removes the safety harness and dares to be impressionistic, ghoulish, batshit crazy (Sunset Blvd. and Barton Fink are prime examples) and Cronenberg (adapted by Bruce Wagner from his brilliant novel) goes there.

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