Front Row at the Movies
"Maps to the Stars" Skewers Hollywood
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Have you ever gone to Hollywood and bought one of those maps showing where movie stars live? Celebs don’t like that a lot, their private home life intruded on by prying tourists, noisy tour buses, hoards of paparazzi, and the occasional stalker.
Can’t blame ‘em.
But it goes with the fame.
"Maps to the Stars" -- the new David Cronenberg film that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema -- takes a satirical look at Hollywood stars and their relationship to the caustic show-biz world.
Julianne Moore (Oscar-winner for "Still Alice") portrays Havana Segrand, a famous but fading movie star haunted by memories of her overbearing mother, a harridan who was also a famous actress.
Miss Segrand hires an assistant (Mia Wasikowska) who happens to be a schizophrenic pyromaniac from Jupiter (Florida, that is). Meant to be the anchor of the film, this weird girl Agatha is the daughter of a famous TV psychologist and his ambitious wife (John Cusack and Olivia Williams). She also has a brother who is a Bieber-esque teen superstar (Evan Bird). And she rides around Beverly Hills in a limousine driven by a wannabe screenwriter (Robert Pattinson).
Hard to tell where R-Pat’s career is going after the conclusion of those megahit "Twilight" sagas. In Cronenberg’s most recent film ("Cosmopolis") he played a fat-cat Wall Street type riding around in a limousine. In this one, he has been demoted to limo driver. For purposes of the movie, it’s his job to say vicious things about celebs who haven’t earned a rightful place in the Hollywood pantheon.
But there’s no question about Julianne Moore’s rightful standing, her career headed ever-upward with her recent Oscar win. Here she’s hilarious as a vapid and profane movie star, a pastiche that seems familiar.
As for "Maps to the Stars," Cronenberg’s sendup of the movie business is funny and bitchy and often "altogether impenetrable as a standard narrative." Given the status of Agatha’s parents and her burn marks, he seems to be saying in a rather heavy-handed way that Hollywood is both an incestuous and scarred place.
Maybe he’s right. But when it comes to skewering Hollywood, I’d rather watch Billy Wilder’s "Sunset Boulevard."