New in Theaters: ‘Maps to the Stars’

Robert Pattinson looks properly mystified in 'Maps to the Stars' (Focus World)

Robert Pattinson looks properly mystified in ‘Maps to the Stars’ (Focus World)

It was probably only a matter of time before director David Cronenberg and novelist Bruce Wagner found some way to work together. Cronenberg’s love of festering wounds (both physical and psychological) and Wagner’s bleak and blackened comedies of Hollywood soul-deadness would seem somehow made for each other. That’s how we, unfortunately, ended up with Maps to the Stars.

After a short, awards-qualifying run late last year, Maps to the Stars is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

There is a moment when satire turns into pure spleen. That moment comes pretty early in David Cronenberg’s disjointed Maps to the Stars. Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), a child star with the dead but predatory eyes of a middle-aged addict, lashes out at his manager. Benjie lets loose a stream of insults notable for being not just petty but anti-Semitic and homophobic to boot. It’s a terribly clumsy moment (see how awful actors can be), the satirical equivalent of a punch to the nose. Much of the film that follows is played in much the same key of bilious hate, the only variant being the talent of those spitting out the lines…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: The Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies That Never Were

Production art from Alejandro Jodorowsky's never-produced 'Dune' (Sony Pictures Classics)

Production art from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s never-produced ‘Dune’ (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sometimes it can be better to think about the possibilities of those great unrealized what-if film projects of legend than to actually see them made. Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, Ridley Scott’s I Am Legend, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs spinoff; there’s a lot of possibilities there for genius, but also insane overreach.

In the interest of indulging the what if side of things, I posted a highly subjective list at Short Ends & Leader of the “Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies That Never Were“:

Even were it not for the mental anguish brought about by the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it would be obvious we live in strange times, cinematically speaking. To wit: Every other movie playing in theaters features alien invasions, bionic bodysuit weaponry, time travel, or a half-dozen other elements that make a geeky kid’s heart beat just that much faster. You would think, then, that studios would be dusting off every science-fiction script their D-girls passed on over the past couple decades and working out how to put Matthew McConaughey in it…

 

New on DVD: ‘Cosmopolis’

cosmopolis-poster1

We can complain all we want about the lack of exciting new visions in mainstream cinema, but then when one does come along, it’s all too often ignored. Case in point: David Cronenberg’s full-bore millennial freakout adaptation of Don DeLillo’s semi-apocalyptic Cosmopolis:

After a few years working in genres like the gangster film (Eastern Promises) and the art-house period piece (A Dangerous Method) threatened to turn him into a respectable filmmaker, David Cronenberg thankfully returns to the perverse, literary artistry of more contentious works like Crash with this abstract, pitch-black comedy. For all its artificial mannerisms, though, Cosmopolis isn’t one of the director’s more abstruse and off-putting works; this is a sleek, seductive construction. The concoction of high-end theorizing on the state of the world, finance and the social sphere mixed with deadpan satire, in addition to the expected jabs of rough sex and ultra-violence, is a highly effective one for audiences willing to go along (ahem) for the ride…

On a relatively quiet week for home-viewing releases, Cosmopolis is available today on both DVD and Blu-ray; check it out.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Cosmopolis’

Adapted by David Cronenberg from Don DeLillo’s prescient 2003 novel, Cosmopolis is set in a fantastical New York of the present or near-future, a nebulous universe that feels like a recent William Gibson novel—this might be the future, but it’s barely five minutes hence. Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a 28-year-old wizard of some species of speculative, quantitative finance who has made his billions and now can’t seem to wait to set his entire universe on fire. He drifts through the city in a white limo that looks outside like all the others, but inside is a fully wired and soundproof command center that keeps him wired to his empire while sitting in traffic on the way to get a haircut…

The deadpan, crazed Cosmpolis opens tomorrow in limited release; seek it out when it comes to your town, there’s nothing else like it.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

The trailer is here: