Bradshaw Watch – ‘Maps to the Stars’ (2014)

Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, wants you to know that during his holiday in Cannes, he has seen a film called Maps to the Stars. Not only does Peter know the name of this film’s director, but he wishes you to know that he has read the following books:

  1. Something or other by Brett Easton Ellis
  2. Death By Hollywood, by Steven Bochco
  3. Cosmopolis, byDon DeLillo
  4. The plays of John Webster, Thomas Middleton, and/or William Rowley

Staff photo, ©The Guardian

Remember that Peter Bradshaw has read these works, and factor that memory into your assessment of his future writings.

Remember also that he uses words like “vivisectional,” “platitudes,” “connoisseurship,” and “tragicomic”.

In his review of this film, Peter has devoted approximately 30% of his total wordcount to enumerating adjectives to loosely describe his emotions on viewing it, with no reference to aesthetic or philosophical traits from the film itself.

Peter has decided to give this film four stars. Read what he has written in his review, and then see if you can guess why.

Describing the film, Peter says at one point that: “a personal assistant, or, in the cynical slang, a ‘chore whore’, [is] someone very different from the gallant courtiers that attend Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd”.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. By “gallant courtiers,” is he referring to Max; the humiliated, downtrodden director who is forced to live as a butler?
  2. Is he alternatively referring to Joe Gillis, the only other character in the film who has consistent contact with Gloria Swanson?
  3. Does he realise that the entire point of Sunset Boulevard is that the Swanson character has lost all her prestige and has no courtiers whatsoever – that the film is entirely based around the life of exactly the type of “chore whore” he describes, a man who “dream[s]…of having [his] screenplays produced and imagine[s] that their abasement will be repaid someday?”
  4. Come to think of it, has Peter Bradshaw actually ever watched Sunset Boulevard from beginning to end ­– and, if so, is there any evidence of it in his writing?

During Peter’s review, does he refer even in passing to any of the following:

  1. The film’s cinematography
  2. The film’s soundtrack
  3. The film’s production design

Please read the following paragraph:

“The film is populated by a macabre gallery of Hollywood addicts: high-functioning lost souls at various levels of the totem pole. Julianne Moore is Havana Segrand, an ageing movie star who is supremely messed up and washed up, desperately waiting to see if she will be cast in a remake of a 1950s picture which starred her late movie-star mom Clarice, later killed in a fire, and of whom, with the help of creepy therapist Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) Havana has recovered memories of being abused. We see clips of this original film, evidently a melodrama in the vein of Suddenly Last Summer starring Elizabeth Taylor, and her mother – who appears to poor Havana in scary dreams and hallucinations – is played by Sarah Gadon.”

Ask yourself the following questions about the preceding paragraph:

  1. Has Peter told you anything about the quality of the film?
  2. Has Peter told you anything about the artistic sensibility of the film?
  3. Has Peter told you anything about the technical significance of the film?
  4. Has Peter told you the names of some of the cast members from the film, and certain details from it’s plot?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s