directed by David Cronenberg
by Bill Chambers There's something vaguely pathetic about Bruce Wagner continuing to write these Los Angeles tapestries that send up the movie business, since his Hollywood career peaked in the early-'90s (and the vision of these satires is ossified thereabouts). And getting David Cronenberg--someone so insularly Canadian, and probably the last filmmaker to pore over the trades--to direct one of them is lunacy, albeit potentially inspired in the way that getting a German to helm Paris, Texas was. Indeed, though, Maps to the Stars is the blind leading the blind, taking place in an obsolete world where Carrie Fisher, playing herself, is some kind of industry gatekeeper and a remake of an old black-and-white melodrama is the hottest project in town. Fresh off the bus from Florida, the mysterious, lightly-disfigured Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in L.A. with an ally in Fisher, who helps get her a job as the personal assistant to high-maintenance Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), an actress haunted by both her own former glory and the superstardom of her late mother (Cronenberg's paper-doll muse Sarah Gadon). Havana has regular, sexually-charged sessions with self-help guru Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), father of teen sensation Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), a nightmare of Bieberian entitlement who, like Havana, has lately been receiving unwelcome visitations from the dead.