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:

New in Theaters: ‘The Rover’

Robert Pattinson in 'The Rover' (A24)

Robert Pattinson in ‘The Rover’ (A24)

therover-posterThe latest movie about what happens after society falls apart is The Rover, a bloody and spare Australian revenge Western set in a burnt-up stretch of the outback where a gun is the law.

The Rover opens in limited release Friday and then goes wider on June 20. My review is at Film Racket:

Most post-apocalyptic vengeance stories like The Rover at least flirt with nihilism. But this is normally just window-dressing there to throw a little grit under the wheels of something all too familiar. What makes David Michod’s hot, percussive, jolting film stand out from the after-the-fall pack is its realization of just how far its protagonists have fallen, even compared to the tattered remnants of civilization around them…

Here’s the trailer:

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: