“Maps to the Stars” is a strange and intoxicating mix of satire, ghost story and family melodrama, with a plot and ultimate point that remains hazy throughout despite an ardently linear structure.
“It’s about distraction,” explains Nicky, the con artist played by Will Smith in “Focus,” the consistently entertaining new film by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”). And that’s what the filmmakers do to us, too — they distract us more than once by making us think we’re watching a predictable, even silly story.
Josh Heald’s screenplay shows its dearth of imagination from its opening scene, a rote, TV-newsmagazine-like explanation of what has happened to his characters since they made their leap back in time.
In the film, Mae Whitman stars as Bianca, an overall-wearing overachiever who’s just trying to navigate her senior year alongside her two best friends Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A. Santos).
The self-obsessed industry might have given its best picture and director prizes to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman,” a trenchant examination of actorly narcissism, but the vanity seemed to stop with the opening of the envelopes
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a blithe James Bond rip-off that gleefully celebrates, parodies and self-consciously modernizes the mossy spy thriller.
Only here’s the twist: The woman’s journey starts at its somber conclusion — a Dear Jane letter — and moves backward in time to its sunny early days. The man travels forward in time, and the two meet, chronologically speaking, only in the middle, for a marriage proposal amid the majesty of Manhattan’s Central Park.
“Our fondest wishes were realized,” said Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou. “This is one of those moments where I can speak for the entire studio and say we’re celebrating.”
For the uninitiated, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is about lit student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and her torrid affair with 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). They meet on a lark, when her aspiring journalist roommate gets ill and Anastasia agrees to help out by subbing in to interview the handsome mogul.