Quick Takes: Maps to the Stars, Consumed

Maps_to_the_StarsMaps to the Stars (2014)
twohalfstar

Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson, Kiara Glasco, Sarah Gadon
Directed by David Cronenberg

Maps to the Stars is definitely a better film than the disastrously bleak and boring Cosmopolis, but it’s still nowhere near as great or intriguing as most of Cronenberg’s other works. I must admit to generally disliking most films about Hollywood, though, so this one had more working against it than the average film, Cronenberg or otherwise. Mia Wasikowska delivers a great, subtle performance as our odd and mysterious lead, but in terms of story the “big reveal” and the conclusion aren’t as engaging as the character deserves. Julianne Moore stands out as well, but by this point in her career, that’s to be expected. Originally the film was to star Viggo Mortensen (in the John Cusack role) and Rachel Weisz in Moore’s place; with this knowledge, I would’ve instead loved to see Viggo and Julianne together, as I’m not much of a Cusack fan and I don’t see Weisz as being especially suited to this role. In any case, Maps to the Stars is a weird, disappointing movie, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. A few weeks ago, I read about Cronenberg having challenges funding his films these days, and honestly after the one-two punch of Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars, I can kind of understand why the money men are hesitant. But whatever, he’s David Cronenberg! He should be allowed to make whatever he wants, y’know?

consumedConsumed (2014)
by David Cronenberg

fourstar

After recently going through all his films, I had to read Cronenberg’s debut novel. It’s a brilliant piece of work, as good as his best films, without question. A welcome return to body horror that consistently made me uncomfortable (in a good way) and had me squirming and wincing in empathetic pain. To achieve that with a film is impressive, but to do so without a single image is something else entirely! Consumed is a testament to the power of Cronenberg’s craft as a writer and a storyteller, and it in no way feels like a debut novel. It’s the work of a seasoned, visionary artist, and anyone who loves his films should check it out. Consumed is easily my favorite Cronenberg project since eXistenZ. His last couple of films weren’t great, but make no mistake: Cronenberg has definitely still got it! If you’re intrigued by a book that brings together body horror, journalism, 3D printing and cannibalism, then Consumed is for you!

Mini-Review: The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Yaya DaCosta, Eddie Hassell, Zosia Mamet, Kunal Sharma

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko

Expectations: None. This is one of those movies I’m curious about only because of hype.


The kids may be all right, but the parents need some help. When the curious kids of two lesbian mothers (Annette Bening & Julianne Moore) contact their sperm donor father, it widens the simmering rift between Bening and Moore and causes everyone involved to reevaluate. Some other stuff happens along the way too, but that’s basically it. Thankfully, The Kids Are All Right features some great, witty dialogue that livens up the entire process. The frank depictions and conversations surrounding sexuality were especially enjoyable, but your mileage may vary depending on your sensitivity to that kind of stuff.

The film is adequately filmed, but could have benefited from more two or three-person shots instead of featuring one person per shot (for no good reason) in a four-person conversation and then editing between them constantly. It wasn’t enough to completely throw me over the edge, but it did annoy. The performances from the entire cast are good, with special notices given to Mia Wasikowska, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo. I enjoyed The Kids Are All Right but I find the heaps of praise to be somewhat unwarranted. While it’s a good, competent movie, it’s nothing overly special that is deserving of all the Best Picture awards and nominations. I think a lot of people will find the film lacking the punch required to live up to that kind of hype, and that’s really a shame, because I think the film plays well without any expectations.

Overall, The Kids Are All Right is an enjoyable film that left me satisfied, even if the ending was a bit weak. The tone stays relatively light throughout, allowing the comedy and the drama to coexist well, making for a unique film that is sure to please many.

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