Can't quite figure out the source of David Cronenberg's appeal. He has a claim to originality and intellectualism but everything I have seen from him is pretty mainstream, plus snobbish and murky when it comes to a film's intellectual message. Quite often, his films border on the tasteless and kitschy. "Maps to the Stars" is a perfect example. (Other past works could serve as an illustration as well - "The History of Violence"- tasteless and banal with one of the worst performances by William Hurt. But also, isn't Vigo Mortensen, Cronenberg's favorite actor, one of the most tacky actors alive? He looks like a hairdresser or a pimp or a child molester...Actually, "The History of Violence" looks like something shot by Verhoeven...)
Anyway, why is "Maps to the Stars" such a bad movie? It desperately wants to be a satire (and does it in a hysterical way, matching only the hysterical performance delivered by Julian Moore as a crazy-bitch-Hollywood-actress). The satirical intention is stuffed into a tacky, soapy plot about an incestuous family with murderous tendencies. They are rich and famous but tragically deprived of normality.They talk to themselves, they are suicidal, violent, they whimper in their bathtubs, smoke like maniacs or display other similarly "original" signs of "inner suffering". The so called "satire" is so trite and literal - e.g. Julian Moore's character is insanely happy when a tragedy befalls her competitor-actress because she gets to play the role she was after... How flat and unimaginative...Every scene in this film is as contrived and square as this little example.
If you are looking for a real satire of Hollywood, check Robert Altman's "The Player," of course...
But once proclaimed an "intellectual," David Cronenberg will stay one, I suppose, as long as he makes claims to this status either by talking about psychoanalysis, Jung, Burroughs, or quoting Paul Eluard. Though the products he manages to churn with Canadian state support, are not quite intellectual.
Labels: David Cronenberg, Julian Moore, Maps to the Stars, Robert Altman, Vigo Mortensen, William Hurt