Friday, 3 October 2014

Maps to the stars (2014)

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Cusack plays: Self-help guru type Dr Stafford Weiss

This was a double bill with the rather good Gone Girl so I had rather a lot of 18 rated cinematic action for one evening. This also meant sitting through two sets of trailers for horrible jumpy horror films with things like dolls coming to life in them.

This film might be tricky to review, as I didn’t know too much about the plot going in and I think that might be good for others too, to watch the madness unfold without much warning. So, it’s a David Cronenberg take on the nastiness that is Hollywood. His last few films haven’t been as shocking as some of his earlier stuff, but I would say this is more of a step back towards the shock factor – I’m sure you will both laugh and hide behind your fingers or turn away at certain parts.

Vague plot  - Julianne Moore is a washed up former star, currently trying to revive her career by playing her own (now dead) actress mother in a new film. She hires a new assistant, who upon arriving in Tinseltown takes a ‘maps of the stars’ sort of tour with Limo driver Robert Pattinson.  Moore (looking like an older Lindsay Lohan) tries to tackle her mommy and other issues by seeing Dr Stafford Weiss (Cusack), whose therapy seems to involve rubbing and massaging her problems out of her. That’s all I knew from reviews and all I think you need to know at this point, because the rest of it will reveal itself in both a humorous and horrifying fashion. I hadn't even seen the trailer (below), which like most trailers gives away far too much.

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While I know bugger all about what Hollywood is actually like, this feels grubby enough to be close to the truth and there’s an in interesting mix of fictional characters (although no doubt heavily based on real people) and real famous people (Carrie Fisher cameos as herself and there are namedrops galore).

Cusack plays a complex, but ultimately fairly horrible man (he uses the C word! John!) and it’s definitely one of his best roles and films for a while. I thought it might just be a token small role but he gets a decent amount of screen time. He also wears glasses at one point. I like him in glasses.

Overall, I would recommend this film, but it does contain a fair bit about abuse and incest and there are some quite violent and gory parts. You have been warned.

Adult World (2013)

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Tagline: When life gets hard, rise to the occasion.
Cusack plays: Writer Rat Billings

This film is just so ‘meh’ that it’s taken me weeks to bother actually writing about it. Thank goodness I don’t write for a living – which is what the main character, Amy, aspires to do – and become a poet of great renown. Having left college mum and dad don’t want to finance the dream anymore so she has to find employment. Her place of work? Adult World – a rather old-school adult bookstore/ video rental type of shop. Meanwhile a chance meeting with one of her favourite writers (Cusack) leads her to attempt to shape a mentor/protégé type of relationship. Oh, and also there’s a sort of love story with one of the other shop staff.

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There isn’t much to love about this film, unless you particularly identify with the lead character. I’m too old to feel any sympathy for her (just get a job and grow up hen) or enjoy any of the quirky little things like – the transvestite co-worker! The old people who own the shop! Learning life lessons! Zzzzz.

On the other hand it’s not so annoying that you really end up hating it. It just comes and goes, it’s pretty short and nothing terrible or dark happens. Blah. It’s all just…fine, yeah, whatever. And that extends to Cusack, I can’t imagine this was much of a stretch to act. I’m definitely past my ‘finding myself’ movie phase, but this might appeal to some teenagers and creative sorts out there.