Maps to the Stars is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us new films by David Croneberg, Jean-Luc Goddard, and Tim Burton plus old films by Carol Reed and Preston Sturges and much more.
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Since I first started watching films, or at least taking them seriously, I’ve consumed them for their directors more than anything else.  Writers develop the building blocks of a movie, actors add the color, producers build the scaffolding, but it's the directors who really make the movie what it is.  I guess I was a fan of the auteur theory long before I even knew what that was.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to watch some of my favorite directors' entire oeuvres.  I started with the  Coen Brothers, then moved onto Martin Scorsese, and am about to make my way through Akira Kurosawa.  For other directors, I’ve been trying to catch a film here or there without any discernible order.  I’ve been doing that to Woody Allen for several years now, and I’ve been watching as many Roman Polanski films as I can find.

I’ve only recently become a fan of David Cronenberg.  I’d heard of him, of course and seen several of his films.  I think the first I saw was Crash, which is a weird place to start with any director (though I’m not sure there is a non-weird place to start with Cronenberg.)  I was too young to understand that film and didn’t bother with him for a long while after. Then I caught A History of Violence and loved it, then later The Fly.  Slowly, others have trickled in and after a fashion I’ve come to love his sensibilities.  I’m still a long ways from viewing his entire filmography or really developing a full understanding of him as a director, but I’m looking forward to making both of those a reality.

His most recent film, Maps to the Stars has Julianne Moore portraying a has-been actress who hires fresh-off-the-bus Mia Wasikowska as her personal assistant.  Dark, satirical hijinks ensue.  It's been compared to Sunset Boulevard a lot and is apparently Cronenberg’s take on the morally bankrupt side of Hollywood.  Interestingly, enough it's also the first time Canadian Cronenberg has ever made a film in the USA.  It also stars John Cusack and Robert Pattison.

I need to know no more.  I’m sold.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Big Eyes:  I pretty much wrote Tim Burton off years ago but this has peaked my interest once again.  It's based on a true story about a Walter Keane who became an art celebrity in the '50s pretending to to the actual artist when the entire time it was his wife doing the work.  It stars Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams and looks fantastic.

Sullivan’s Travels (Criterion Collection): Preston Sturges' hilarious Hollywood satire about a film director desperate to make a socially relevant film gets the Criterion Blu-ray treatment.  I hate to admit I first saw this because the Coen Brothers took the name of their fantastically funny film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? from this film.  But I’m glad I did because it introduced me to Preston Sturges and is just wonderful all around.

Odd Man Out (Criterion Collection): Carol Reeds’ 1947 film noir gets the Criterion touch.  I’ve never heard of this before but I love Reed’s The Third Man so I’m fully on board. Read Davy's review.

He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not:  Two words: Audrey Tautou.  That’s enough for me right there.  But it's also got an interesting concept.  Audrey plays an art student who falls in love with a married man.  Her affections turn towards Fatal Attraction but halfway through the film it twists itself around and reverses its perspective showing things from her wildly different point of view.

Goodbye to Language:  Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental film used 3D technology to express a couple’s relationship break-down via visual effects.  A 2D version is also being released merging the left eye/right eye image tracks from the 3D version into one image track. Fascinating.

Best of Bluegrass Underground 2:  This PBS series which places bluegrass (and other folkie) acts in a cave showcases The Civil Wars, Andrew Bird, Lucinda Williams, and more.

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