(it) wrote: Maps To The Stars is a film all about secrets. The skeletons hidden deep within closets, though their presence is still very much known to the people who place them in there and wish to forget their existence, perhaps hoping that one day they will not only cease remembrance, but also maybe even cease existing altogether like it was all a bad dream.But what if those skeletons refuse to remain hidden away? What if, perhaps, they open those closets back up, peering at you with those hollow eye sockets and smiling endlessly with a toothy grin and bony fingers clutching the side of that door as they gaze at you? Everyone has their skeletons in the closet, with some more than others, doing their best to keep those closets locked up tight - padlocks and chains, you name it.This perhaps goes even more so for those in the public eye. Despite being seen and heard, admired fiercely, and the like, they perhaps have more to hide and keep away from the prying eyes of the public that can adore you one moment and then hate and destroy you the next minute like sharks smelling blood in the water, eager to tear apart and devour that which bleeds. The bloodier and juicier, the better.As much as we admire such people, especially celebrities of the star-studded glamor of Hollywood, most wonder at some point what they may be hiding behind it all. Maps To The Stars is all about those people as their dark pasts and terrible secrets escape from their closets and some of those skeletons become flesh and alive once more.The story opens with a girl named Agatha with burn marks on her face (And her body. She even wears gloves to cover some of the burns) riding a bus which arrives in Hollywood. She meets up with a limo driver named Jerome, a struggling actor and wannabe writer working as a driver, who takes her to an old lot at her request which used to have a house belonging to the Weiss family, a prominent celebrity family in which the father, Stafford, is a popular television psychologist, and the son, Benjie is a popular teen actor who became popular after his role in the comedy, Bad Babysitter.Though Jerome finds Agatha peculiar (Especially with her initial response to his question of where she came from, she responded, "Jupiter."), the two becomes friends, with her hiring him to drive her around to various places. She has come to Hollywood after striking up a correspondence with actress, Carrie Fisher (Yes, real-life actress, Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher), who in turn, recommends her to fellow actress, Havana Segrand to work as her personal assistant.The plot follows a number of people and tangents, which I'll do my best to relay to you.The Weiss family, despite having a great deal of wealth and prominence, has a number of personal issues.Benjie, despite being only 13-years-old, has already been in and out of rehab. He is also horribly arrogant and spoiled, which also means he's not above insulting people.One such incident occurs at the beginning of the film, when he is visiting a girl named Cami in the hospital as a reputation-improvement exercise, rather than a charitable, genuine, caring visit. As he's talking to the starry-eyed girl, excited to see a star, he makes the unfortunate mistake of asking, "So, Cami, how'd you get AIDs?" to which she responds with a most perplexed look, "I-I don't have AIDs. I have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." He tries to recover from the situation by falsely stating that he'll make a movie about her life.Embarrassed by this mistake, he is furious with his assistant who wrongly told him of what disease the girl had when they leave the hospital, going as far as to call him a, "Jew faggot," before getting into his limo.Benjie is also trying to retain his popularity that Bad Babysitter brought him, by doing the sequel, with his mother acting as his personal agent. Though the studio is on board for the sequel, they are worried about Benjie's past drug problems.Benjie also has issues with his past, involving his older sister that his parents never talk about. The two played rather strange games together as children, like pretending to get married as he recalls. But when he was 7-years-old, she gave him an overdose of sleeping pills and set the house on fire. She was sent to an asylum in Florida, and the family refuses to talk about the issue that still haunts Benjie to this day.After visiting the dying girl, Cami, in the hospital, she dies. And soon, he starts seeing visions of her ghost, haunting him for reasons he can't understand.The father, Stafford, is a popular television psychologist, writing a number of books (One called Secrets Kill, which he calls at one point in the film, "A Classic") and working with high-profile celebrity clientele. He has a titanic ego and aura of arrogance, caring only for himself and his family's celebrity status, all while peddling his ridiculous self-help advice to the gullible and high-paying clientele.The mother, Cristina, works as her son's agent and seems to genuinely care for him, though she is mostly distant and filled with angst, while smoking cigarettes, disillusioned with their false facade they display in public and toiling over their family's many dark secrets (Like how she and her husband are much closer to one another than being married with children. Much, much closer).The plot also follows an actress named Havana Segrand, who is getting older and as is the cruel nature of Hollywood towards actresses, she is losing popularity and fearing her looks will fade.She is also haunted by her past, involving her actress mother, Clarice Taggart, who is famous for her role in the romantic drama, Stolen Waters, and becoming a cult figure after she died tragically in a car fire 30 years earlier.That's not all, however. According to Havana, her mother sexually abused her and throughout the story, she is haunted by visions of her young mother's ghost who taunts her and mocks her, and making other bizarre statements ("You know what Hell really is? A world without narcotics"). Despite this and her other dark secrets, Havana is eager to gain the lead role in the upcoming remake of Stolen Waters, as well as the coveted lead role her mother played. She is also one of the clients of Dr. Weiss, seeing him regularly for his treatments.As she seeks to gain this role, she hires the mysterious girl, Agatha, as her personal assistant (Or as she said to her agent when looking for a new assistant, "I need a new chore-whore") and finds her intriguing because of her personality and wondering about her mysterious burn marks.Little do they know, however, is how Agatha is about to crash through their lives like a wrecking ball as she opens their Pandora's box of dark secrets, revealing their deepest, darkest, ugliest parts of their natures that will ultimately consume them.The story is a bit of mess, I'll admit. It follows many characters and has many facets. That being said, however, I can't really criticize it, even for parts I really didn't get.Oddly enough, the confused, schizophrenic type of storytelling this film tells actually fits, especially with characters suffering from severe psychological problems, especially as their insulated, rich, celebrity lives are invaded by the uncontrollable forces of fate which seeks to punish and reveal their secrets and deeds.It's a story about the cruel nature of fame and celebrity, as well as the dark natures of humanity and its secrets set in the glamor and facade of Hollywood, the ultimate place of facades and hiding behind the mask - second only to the big wigs of Washington D.C.Many have criticized the story for its bizarre tones, and especially its characters and complaining that they're unlikable. They're missing the point. Aside from maybe one or two characters, nobody is really meant to be likable. It's a story about awful, narcissistic, arrogant people and their downfalls at their own hands through their deeds and actions, while the likable ones are swallowed by the cruel Hollywood celebrity machine and spit back out into little chewed up, mangled pieces.As far as tonal problems are concerned (As this film likes to drift back and forth between being a torrid drama and a dark, pitch black comedy with utterly morbid humor), I, too felt that this aspect was fascinating despite being uneven. It fit with the mood and tone of the film's insanity.The acting is excellent across the board, including industry veterans and talented stars I had never even heard of before this film.The main standout is Julianne Moore as Havana Segrand, the egomaniac extraordinaire who is all about vanity. She employs both equal amounts of crazy, but also cunning deception with a scary, bitchy, back-stabbing kind of character.She treats people like garbage, using them only for herself. She's into drugs, she sleeps with prominent producers to get her connections, and she's not above being cheerful when tragedy strikes, such as one scene that elicits both shock and morbid laughs when she cheerfully sings and dances upon hearing that the son of the actress that got the lead role in the Stolen Waters remake drowned, making her drop out of the film in grief ("Let's hear it for little Micah!" she says when she stops singing for a moment)Moore's performance is perfect as she takes on such a despicable character. She is absolutely fascinating to watch.Mia Wasikowska plays the sympathetic Agatha, trying to rebuild her life and trying to remain positive, even with all the awful things have happened in her life. However, even the most good-hearted and kind of people can only suffer so many setbacks, bitter disappointments, and hopes being crushed before they, too, can go mad. She is the living embodiment of the skeleton in the closet, no longer wanting to be contained and unleashing the secrets of these characters.John Cusack gives a brilliant performance as Dr. Stafford Weiss, the egotistical television passing off as a doctor who helps people - one of the ultimate phonies, recalling certain aspects of other popular, real-life pretend doctors (Dr. Phil *cough, cough* Dr. Oz *cough, cough*). He only cares for himself and his celebrity status, even if it means throwing a family member under the bus to save his own sorry ass from their scandals.Evan Bird as Benjie is an actor that I had never heard of, but for a child actor he is rather exceptional in his role as the troubled, arrogant Benjie as he descends into madness and old habits, as he surrounds himself with terrible company who do nothing to prevent him from engaging in such activities, like when in the midst of being high and being allowed to play with a gun (Which his friend boasts about it being one of the guns used in the Columbine shooting), he accidentally shoots his friend's dog. He is reckless and cursed with useless parenting that never truly seeks to help him, even after commits a heinous act in the midst of one of his delusions later on in the film.The other actors are also quite good, like Robert Pattinson (We've come a long way since the Twilight franchise) as Jerome, Sarah Godon as the ghost of Clarice Taggart, employing a similarly cold performance as she did in Cronenberg's previous film, Cosmopolis, and Olivia Williams as Cristina, the troubled mother who is too overprotecting and reinforcing of her son's behaviors.I was thoroughly entertained and fascinated by what I watched. So much so, that I've already watched Maps To The Stars multiple times. I was fascinated, engaged, horrified, humored most morbidly, and totally in love with its morbid, fucked up personality as it strips and lays bare its ugly characters before destroying them with a vengeance - all the facades, all the lies, their egos, their arrogance, and every phony fiber of their beings as they go insane.Despite its dark humor, I was also laughing my ass off during the film. The humor won't to be everyone's liking with how politically-incorrect ("She lets the producers stick their cocks in her ass and pee!" says Havana at one point in the film) and dark it is (Again the celebration of a child's death for Havana's career prospects), but if you don't mind generous helpings of both types of humor, Maps To The Stars is something to behold.I absolutely adore Maps To The Stars. It is destined to be one of my favorite films of the 2010's with its bizarre storytelling, great acting, morbid humor, penchants for sex, drugs, and brutal violence, and how it so brutally takes down the notions of fame, celebrity, and also exposing the dark sides of human nature - all while laughing in the faces of these things and wrecking them with a vengeance.It's messy, most will hate it, and most will be confused. I don't care. I love this film to death as it has cemented itself as one of the great trashy works of cinematic art I have seen. It is glorious.