By Ezra Stead
Maps to the Stars, Canada / Germany / France / USA, 2014
Directed by David Cronenberg
If A Dangerous Method (the end of the Viggo Mortensen trilogy as I like to call it, the first two being A History of Violence and Eastern Promises) shows David Cronenberg at his most respectable, and Cosmopolis presents the Canadian director at his most unwatchable, his latest manages to avoid both of those traps. A sleazy, trashy, dark comedy about the amoral self-absorption of Hollywood, Maps to the Stars is gleefully disreputable and never less than entertaining. However, it lacks the narrative focus and thematic bite to rank among Cronenberg’s best films.
The most coherent and interesting thread to be found amongst the rather large, interconnected ensemble concerns an aging actress (Julianne Moore) angling for the part played by her now deceased mother in a remake of one of the latter’s classic films. She hires an assistant (Mia Wasikowska) who has been disfigured by burns in a house fire she herself started. The mentor-protégé relationship gradually sours to the point of a rather shocking conclusion, and an earlier scene in which the pair sing and dance in celebration of the tragic death of another actress’s small child is easily the funniest moment in the film. Read More
By Corey Birkhofer
Summer Wars, Japan, 2009
Directed by Mamoru Hosada
With the rampant popularity and ubiquitous prevalence of social networking phenomenon including FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and so many other copycats, Summer Wars could not have hit the screens at a more timely point in the evolution of mankind’s obsession with recreating reality in a virtually controlled world. Other films, stories, animations, comics and forms of media distribution have all hinted at our dangerous courtship in relying too heavily upon technology to make our lives easier and more connected, but Summer Wars, which is being submitted for an Oscar nomination by Funimation, has its finger on the pulse of the inner fear we all share – the “Terminator”-phobia, if you will – that our heavily depended upon technology will turn on us.
“A spokesperson for Funimation Entertainment told TheWrap this week that it is currently filling out Academy paperwork for the Japanese anime release Summer Wars, directed by Mamoru Hosada, and will complete a qualifying run in Los Angeles before the end of the year. Barring any disqualifications for the kind of eligibility issues that can always arise with the Academy, or any unexpected decisions not to submit, Summer Wars will bring the field only two shy of the needed total.”
–TheWrap.com’s Steve Pond