Paul Thomas Anderson is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. By some, one of the greatest filmmakers of any time. Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood are held up, almost unanimously, as some of the finest films of the last quarter-century; some would add Magnolia and The Master to that list. (A few might even include Hard Eight and Punch-Drunk Love.)
(Throwback Thursday: My final column for INsite Boston, originally published in April 2007. I still feel that I wrote this shortly after Hollywood reached a turning point; when the advent of the internet paved the way for celebrity worship to give way to schadenfreude. Sensing that, I realized I had said all that there was to be said about the era’s most ridiculed stars… at least until I spent several years writing celebrity news — and continuously making fun of them.)
“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”
We are officially wrapping up the fall TV season now, as most shows have begun or are about to take a hiatus for the holidays, and others are taking a hiatus for… ever. Farewell, A To Z! Good riddance, Selfie! Manhattan Love Story, we hardly knew ye!
“That’s a cautionary tale, huh? That’s what happens, though, you know, when you make show business your whole life, right? You know? Next thing you know, you’re eating kale chips out of a shopping cart.”
If you live in or around Hollywood, you’re likely to see open-top buses filled with tourists, taking a tour of your home like it’s Disneyland. I happen to live near a lot of the attractions on these tours — places that are pretty ordinary to me, but can still be sold as part of the Tinseltown mythos. The lookie-loos in these buses and vans want to see where the stars live — or, stranger still, used to live — because, as legend has it, such figures are larger than life, gods amongst men, living out their fabulous, unimaginable lives on a plane of existence we mere mortals can only dream of.
The truth is a far cry from that — and if you live here, you know it. But you’ll still see those buses full of people, their eyes glancing briefly at you, just in case you might be a celebrity, and then darting quickly away when they realize you’re just another person. Like animals in cages at a zoo, we don’t pay much mind to these tourists invading our natural habitat — which is not, in fact, our natural habitat, but an enclosure built up to vaguely resemble our former way of life. Our unnatural habitat. In Los Angeles, it’s a constant reminder that people are fascinated by our way of life here, even if that way of life loses its luster to those who actually live here. At some point, even glitz and glamor begin to look ordinary. I look at those tourists sometimes and try to remember what it’s like to be just thrilled by all this.
David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars is a lot like those “star tours,” except in addition to showing you gaudy homes, celeb hotspots, and a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, it will also show you incest, prescription drug abuse, the ghosts of multiple children, self-immolation, and at least one dead pet.
Welcome to Hollywood, folks!
“I don’t care if you’re available or unavailable. I don’t care if you just found out that you have have herpes or hepatitis C from one of those whores that you pay to come to your room on show nights. I’ve been in this business a lot longer than you have, and I will be in this business long after they take you out in a body bag, because you are gonna OD on some shit that you pump into your veins because you hate yourself. And guess what? I’m your way out. And you’re too fucking stupid to even know it.”
Much has been made of the weak Best Actress race this year. The Best Actor field is filled to the brim with potential nominees, enough to fill ten slots with worthy performances from 2014.
The Best Actress race? Not so much.
“I don’t know what kind of candy you’re making, but I’m a coal miner!”