Maps to the Stars

(USA 2014)

David Cronenberg’s satire of the film industry and fame in general. Drifter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) from Jupiter (Florida, not the planet) shows up in L.A. to hook up with Carrie Fisher—who makes a brief cameo—and is hired as the personal assistant of whack job actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore). Agatha has an odd obsession with fading child star Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), whose father (John Cusack) happens to be Segrand’s “healer.” Robert Pattinson costars as Jerome, Agatha’s hired driver and an aspiring actor/screenwriter.

Hollywood loves to make snarky movies about itself, and this cynical little tale is no exception. Though not the same movie, Maps to the Stars is cut from the same cloth as maybe The Player. The ending left me with a lot of fodder to ponder and discuss, but the story as a whole lacks something– maybe wit? Bite? Excitement? I don’t know, but Maps to the Stars is not Cronenberg’s best work even if it stands on its own. The strong performances all around are what elevate it from what is potentially a low-end David Lynch knock-off.

(Music Box) B-

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

(USA 2014)

Mary Dore’s documentary about the rise, dissipation, and resurgence of women’s liberation paints a broad (no pun intended) picture of the movement itself while honing in on the many factions within it—lesbians, black chicks, even witches. Thorough, balanced, and fun, Dore’s ultimate point, sadly, is that American society has pretty much come full circle retrograde on many women’s issues like abortion and childcare. Not a dull moment, and well worth the time spent seeing it.

(Music Box) B+