REVIEW: Maps to the Stars

Maps_To_The_Stars_Film_still

Maps to the Stars
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: Bruce Wagner
Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and Evan Bird

Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg’s latest nightmare, is an emotionally violent, incestuous drama staged in the Hollywood Hills.  Like Paul Schrader’s recent The Canyons, this film’s Los Angeles has a radioactive glow; its bleached-out skies make it impossible to see where the sun is during the day, and neon colors pop during the few night scenes.  Its characters are an equally disturbed group of frigid psychopaths and tortured narcissists.  Some are both.

For how often the movie is dominated by daylight, many of the characters look (and behave) like vampires trapped in the sun, or ants being fried by a magnifying glass.  One of them, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), even has visible burn marks on her neck and the left side of her face.  Her brother, troubled teen star Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), is the only noticeably tan one, and he’s also the most well-adjusted to the movie’s world of tormented excess.

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REVIEW: Hanna

Hanna
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Seth Lochhead & David Farr (screenplay)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, and Olivia Williams

Looking at a DNA report that concludes the subject is “Abnormal,” is probably the last thing a teenager needs to see.  Though when said teenager has just finished disposing a handful of government agents like life were on the “Easy” setting, it may be the least of her worries.  But Hanna (Saorise Ronan) still looks slightly wounded when looking at that piece of paper.  It’s one of the few moments director Joe Wright stops to smell the emotion in this thrilling exercise in kinetic action.

Hanna begins in the arctic wilderness, where her father (Eric Bana) has kept and trained her since he went rogue from the CIA.  She was bred for tactical assassinations, something he infuses with his own agenda.  Hanna is tasked with taking down Marissa (Cate Blanchett) the woman he claims has killed her mother.  Wright never lingers in loss or death in this film, putting Hanna in constant motion throughout.  It is a vision of what last year’s Kick-Ass would’ve looked like had the subject been only focused on Hit-Girl and her father.

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And the winners should be…. 2011 Oscar Predictions (Matt’s Picks)

Best Picture

The Social Network
Black Swan
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Winter’s Bone
The Kids Are All Right
Inception
Toy Story 3
The Fighter
True Grit

Should Win I’d be the most happy with Social Network, Black Swan, or The Kids Are All Right.  There’s no real Blind Side this year, but The King’s Speech is the least deserving… and it’s also one of the front-runners.
Will Win: The Social Network has a real shot, but so does The King’s Speech. Many have already handed it to King George, but I’m leaning toward King Zuckerberg.
Snubbed: There’s really no Blind Side this year among the nominees. However, over The King’s Speech I would’ve nominated The Ghost Writer, Enter the Void, White Material, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Splice or I Am Love.


Best Director

Tom Hooper- The King’s Speech
Darren Aronofsky- Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen- True Grit
David Fincher- The Social Network
David O. Russell- The Fighter

Should Win: Aronofsky.  His direction on Black Swan was the best thing about the movie, which is saying a lot.  Fincher is also great, but so many other elements of Social Network would’ve worked on their own if not as well.  You can’t really say that about Black Swan.
Will Win: Fincher.  Even if The Social Network doesn’t walk away with the night’s biggest trophy, this one is a pretty safe bet.
Snubbed: Yes, yes, Christopher Nolan deserved a nomination  for Inception here over Tom Hooper, but don’t forget Danny Boyle.  His direction on 127 Hours was impeccable and his movie was better than both Inception and The King’s Speech.   I’d also throw in Lisa Cholodenko’s low-key genius in The Kid’s Are All Right, Gasper Noe’s hallucinatory brilliance in Enter the Void, Roman Polanski’s artful storytelling in The Ghost Writer and the mesmerizing work of Claire Denis in White Material.

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