The Weiss family has some serious problems, which probably has largely to do with the fact the mother and father are brother and sisters and their children are inbred demon seeds. To the Weiss’ credit, they did not know they were brother and sister until after they fell in love, but that did not stop them from spawning schizophrenic children. The patriarch of the family is Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), a celebrity psychotherapist and seemingly psychopathic alpha-conman who has managed to successfully con the masses into buying his bogus ‘hocus pocus’ books because he has so many high-profile clients. Dr. Weiss’ sister/wife is Cristina Weiss (Olivia Williams) is the archetypical ‘controlling mother’ in many ways in that she has masterminded the rather lucrative career of her internationally famous child star son Benjie (Evan Bird), who is an obscenely arrogant yet somewhat intelligent 13-year-old recovering drug addict, sort of like a composite of Macaulay Culkin and especially Justin Bieber. Benjie has an estranged schizophrenic sister named Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), who he has not seen since he was a small child when she tried to kill him and the entire family by burning their house down, but not before giving him an overdose of drugs before setting the family homestead ablaze. Badly scarred by the fire she set seven years previously, Agatha has to always wear leather arm-length gloves and is completely scarred on the left side of her face, which she tries to hide with her goofy pseudo-flapper haircut. Unbeknownst to the Weiss’, deranged daughter Agatha travels from her Florida-based mental institution in an exceedingly hopeless attempt to reunite with her family. Naturally, it will ultimately have tragic consequences.
Ultimately, lapsed pyromaniac Agatha takes a job as a personal assistant from her father’s client Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) after being introduced to the batshit crazy burn victim via an exceedingly overweight Carrie Fisher (playing herself). Among other things, Havana is a once-famous, has-been Hollywood actress of the psychopathically self-absorbed sort who literally jumps for joy when her rival’s toddler son drowns to death, thus enabling her to get a role in a remake of a 1960s classic entitled Stolen Water that her belated mother Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon) starred in and received various prestigious film awards for. Clarice died young in a fire and Havana, who resents her mother’s fame and dubiously blames her being supposedly molested as a child, regularly sees her appear as a ghost who constantly taunts her about her glaring insecurities and lack of talent. One of the reasons that Havana hires Agatha is because she was a ‘victim’ of a fire just like her mother, thus making her think she will somehow be able to get over her progenitor’s ghost if she employs the externally and internally damaged dame. Upon arriving in L.A., the first thing Agatha does is visit the home that she burned down seven years before. Agatha also starts a ‘romantic’ relationship with a struggling actor named Jerome Fontana (played by Robert Pattinson in a role based on screenwriter Bruce Wagner’s own experiences before he became famous in Hollywood) who she met after hiring him as a limo driver. Of course, soft-spoken gentleman Jerome, who is the closest thing to a ‘likeable’ and ‘sane’ character in the entire film, is just using Agatha for “research” purposes, as he wants to further develop his acting chops.
Meanwhile, Bieber-esque bitch boy Benjie is on his way to being just as insane as his sister Agatha. Indeed, not longer after visiting a terminally ill girl named Cammy (Kiara Glasco) in the hospital and asking her how she got AIDS even though she has non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in what is an elaborately planned publicity stunt to bolster his career for paid press he has gotten as a result of being a 13-year-old that had to enter rehab, Benjie finds himself haunted by the ghost of the terminally ill fan whose deadly disease he could not bother to look up. Benjie is famous for starring in a Home Alone-like film franchise ‘Bad Babysitter’ and his mother Cristina has managed to secure him the lead role of the latest sequel, but he soon finds himself resenting the project after being shown up by an enterprising up-and-coming 4-year-old redhead runt named Roy (Sean Robertson). Of course, Benjie gets back on drugs again in no time. After finding out that she came to visit Benjie, Dr. Weiss decides to confront Agatha and more or less threatens her to stay away from the family. Of course, as the film ultimately reveals, Dr. Weiss seems to resent his daughter more due to the fact that she knows his dark secret about being married to his sister/her mother than the fact that she tried to kill the entire family by burning the house down. Indeed, Dr. Weiss’ entire charismatically vomited “self-help” spiel seems to be a sort of instinctive self-defense mechanism to cope with the deep dark secret that he married and had children with his own sister. Ironically, Dr. Weiss’ most famous book, which he arrogantly describes as “a classic,” is called “Secrets Kill” and as the conclusion of the film will reveal, indeed they do. Indeed, while Maps to the Stars might not be in the spirit of Cronenberg’s old school “body horror” flicks, that does not mean that the film does not have a similarly large body count. Indeed, not unlike the half-braindead teenagers featured in countless c-grade slasher flicks from the 1980s, you just cannot wait until these innately insufferable, inane, and grotesquely vain characters are put of their misery and snuffed out for good.
In terms of technique and ‘artiness,’ I have never really found David Cronenberg to be a particularly gifted filmmaker. What makes his films interesting are the unnerving subjects he chooses, be it William S. Burroughs’ magnum opus or the sex life of ‘Aryan Christ’ Carl Jung. Indubitably, despite being the director’s first film shot in Hollywood and a rare attempt by the filmmaker to take a stab at satire, Maps to the Stars is archetypically Cronenbergian to the core as a work that takes an unwaveringly unflattering look at the darkness of humanity and the sensitivity of human flesh, be it coming in contact with fire or the used-up genitals of a would-be-MILF over-the-hill fire-crotched actress. Personally, I found nothing particularly striking about Cronenberg’s direction and would even argue that Schrader’s similarly themed failure The Canyons proved to be a more aesthetically pleasing and gripping experience, yet Maps to the Stars is still a far more superior film. Indeed, while a work of celluloid fiction, the film still manages to iconoclastically demystify the mythmakers of Hollywood. Like a more coherent and less esoteric twist on David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (2001) meets a Barton Fink (1991) set in contemporary times, Cronenberg’s film should be playing at every single movie theater in America as a sort of mischievously frolicsome deprogramming tool that lets the masses know that their filmic heroes are sexually depraved junkies with a weakness for incest.
Interestingly, Cronenberg also hints at the self-loathing that has been an innate part of Hebraic Hollywood since the beginning as documented in the rather insightful book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (1989) by Neal Gabler. While never mentioning it overtly, it can be inferred that the central family featured in Maps to the Stars is of the Judaic persuasion as hinted by their stereotypically Jewish surname ‘Weiss.’ In one rather hilarious scene early on in the film, egomaniacal brat Benjie—a little scrawny turd who, like many Hollywood Judaic types, bleaches his hair to make himself look more ‘Aryan’—verbally assaults his stereotypically fat, swarthy, and unkempt middle-aged Jewish assistant, Arnold (Joe Pingue), hatefully stating in a sarcastic fashion: “Great Rabbi…death and dying. Man of wisdom…Zen fucking Arthur. I’ve got a new nickname for you: “Museum of Tolerance.” When Arnold tells the little turd to watch his mouth, Benjie replies, “Why don’t you show me your cunt, huh? I know you have one. Jew faggot.” Of course, considering his less than flattering depiction of Jewish atheist messiah Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method (2011), Cronenberg has never been particularly fond of mindlessly supporting his people’s great “culture-distorters” like most of the Hebrews in Hollywood. Additionally, in Eastern Promises (2007), Cronenberg cast the so-called “Russian mafia,” which is a Jewish entity, in the most brutal of lights. Of course, it is doubtful that Cronenberg is a ‘self-loathing Jew’ but just a sensible mensch that is critical of the more unsavory elements among his people. In fact, Cronenberg has even gone so far as to distance himself from the cliche money-grubbing Hollywood Hebrew type, stating in an 2007 interview with nypress.com, “A sell-out is a personal thing. Ivan [Reitman] was always destined for Hollywood. That’s what he wanted. I never wanted that.” In the same interview, the director also remarked, “I’m always aware of [being Jewish]. It’s always on my mind, but not obsessively. When you’re threatened because of one aspect of your nature, whether it’s your sexuality or your gender or your ethnic background, you become acutely sensitive to it for that moment. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what defines you as a person.” Indeed, it seems that Cronenberg is “acutely sensitive” to the fact that his people are not only brainwashing the masses with their neo-Trotskyite propaganda and promoting every form of moral degeneracy and metaphysical affliction imaginable, but that they are also degrading and exploiting the artistic medium for those purposes. With that being said, I like to think that Maps to the Stars is the director’s sort of unofficial indictment of insipid Zio-ganda and aesthetic worthlessness of Hollywood, as well as his argument as to why he has avoided working in Hollywood his entire life despite the fact that he could have easily ascended to royal status among the upper echelons of the Hebraic hegemony over Hollywood.
Featuring an aging actress of the borderline psycho-biddy sort being beaten to death with her own film award trophy, a burnout and drug-addicted 13-year-old child star attempting to strangle to death his 4-year-old rival, a fading actress suffering severe flatulence and constipation as a result of taking too many painkillers, an aspiring actor screwing a severely scarred burn victim in an attempt to advance his career and fine tune his acting talents, and a hyper hysterical actress trying in vain to outdo her long deceased mother in terms of popularity, Maps to the Stars is ultimately the closest thing to a film in the spirit of Kenneth Anger’s hilarious hidden history book Hollywood Babylon (1959). Indeed, as the screenwriter’s other works like Wild Palms and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills also readily demonstrate, Bruce Wagner is surely one of the greatest, if not the greatest, critic of Hollywood working today and thus he should share credit with Cronenberg in terms of being the auteur behind Maps to the Stars. The fact that Wagner—a mystical-minded man who was a member of the inner-circle of Carlos Castaneda and studied under Indian Hindu guru Ramesh Balsekar—has described the aspiring actor character played by Robert Pattinson that literally and figuratively whores himself out as being of a semi-autobiographical nature just goes to show that even a man who has more or less built a career on mocking Tinseltown cannot even escape the debasing powers of Hollywood. Notably, Cronenberg once stated regarding his film, “Hollywood is a world that is seductive and repellent at the same time, and it is the combination of the two that makes it so potent.” Personally, I find nothing particularly seductive about contemporary Hollywood, nor the fictional one depicted in Cronenberg’s film, but the Hollywood of Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a different story. Indeed, the Hollywood of today is far too vapid, plastic, and uncultivated to produce deranged yet dignified divas like Norma Desmond. Instead, we have fat ass Hebraic slobs like Jonah Hill, neo-Cro-Magnon morons like Channing Tatum, unattractive and untalented pseudo-diva bitches like Julia Roberts, phony Uncle Toms like Will Smith, scheming neo-vaudevillian sub-smut-peddlers like Friedberg and Seltzer, ethno-masochistic baby-negro-collectors like Angelina Jolie and her beau Brad Pitt, racially ambiguous mystery meat like Wentworth Miller and Vin Diesel, and Asperger-addled blockbuster philistines like Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. Needless to say, if Hollywood were to burn to the ground as depicted in one of the posters for Maps to the Stars, it would be no great loss.