This month we’re honouring director David Cronenberg. Considering I am always quick to tell people that I hate horror, it’s not a great mix. Granted, I think Cronenberg’s films were more famous for pioneering ‘body horror’ which is a bit more venereal and gory than those designed to make you jump every 5 minutes and not sleep for a week. For one reason or another, I’ve just not seen many of his films. The one film I have seen of his, however, is Maps To The Stars (2014) at the cinema when it came out last year.
Immediately, I could see it was a film worthy of it’s 5 star reviews and I also wrote a review when it was in cinemas. Julianne Moore gave a better performance in this film than she did in Still Alice (2014) which would be the film she finally won that well deserved Oscar for. It’s daring and it’s completely insane, and despite absolutely loving it I will most likely never ever watch it again, it made me that uncomfortable.
Maps To The Stars (2014) is a satire/critique on Hollywood featuring uncliched yet ‘typical’ Hollywood characters with gruesome flaws and virtually no redeeming qualities other than the inability to see further than the end of their own noses. The narrative follows several story arches and characters that all tie in together. You’ve got Julianne Moore’s Havana Segrand who is an ageing movie star furthering herself into her movie star mother’s shadow by preparing to portray her in a biopic of her mother’s life.
Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska) becomes her assistant with her own agenda. She wears very long black gloves to cover burn marks which themselves offer a cloud of mystery. She’s new in Hollywood and as well as becoming Segrand’s assistant, she hopes to seek out her estranged family (including her Justin Bieber-level-of-fame younger brother) who currently live in Hollywood. Oh, and Robert Pattinson plays a cab driver hoping to make it as a successful screenwriter. All of these lives intertwine in some way to paint a volatile picture of the Hollywood machine.
The hilarious part of the making of a film about Hollywood (maybe not hilarious, mildly amusing perhaps) is that only the smallest of small scenes were actually filmed in LA. Agatha basically bows down to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at one point so you can’t really film that anywhere else, but the rest was pretty much shot in Cronenberg’s native Canada just like all of his other films. I, of course, read too much into this kind of thing but I like how the film was produced away from the subject matter, that it was able to have some distance.
With a film that is centred around the addiction-like nature of the city (not even a city really, but an entire culture) and it’s junkie inhabitants, the script and the characters were the elements that conveyed the venomous and repellent nature of Hollywood, rather than the iconic landmarks creating some kind of tourist film when really it is the culture of Hollywood that makes it Hollywood rather than the city streets of LA.
Something tells me I need to watch many more Cronenberg films! Perhaps Cosmopolis (2012) next?