At the New York Film Festival: Alarming Women in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars and David Fincher's Gone Girl

David Cronenberg turns horror to comedy in his latest feature Maps to the Stars, based on fiction by Bruce Wagner. Hollywood is known more for its superficiality than for depths of any kind, so exploring themes of damaged children, incest, and high narcissism set in L.A., you may come up with a movie as disturbing as Maps to the Stars. Unless you take it as comedy, which Cronenberg claims was his intention. His star Julianne Moore came away from Cannes with a best actress prize for her turn as Havana Segrand, a waning star beset by frightening visions of her mother (Sarah Gadon). She has a laughing fit discovering that the child of a rival actress has been killed, leaving a coveted role, in fact a remake of one in which her mother starred, to her. Mothers and daughters are toxic in this movie. Quipped Bruce Wagner at the NYFF's Q&A, "I saw this as a tender coming of age story. And much like Boyhood, it took a long time to make."

Marriage, as we know, is a challenge on the best of days but when the husband is a liar/ philanderer and the wife a psychopath, look out. The film of Gillian Flynn's beloved best-seller, Gone Girl, a thriller by David Fincher, features Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in these roles. The actors are especially well cast, Affleck for his shady good looks, and Pike, well, in another movie, Hector and the Search for Happiness, she plays Simon Pegg's girlfriend described as perfect in every way. As Amy, Gone Girl's missing person, that same perfection, the milky skin, intelligence, grace, turns lethal. Muse of her parents' kid book series, she was Amazing Amy, and the way Pike's Amy masterminds the story's many twists, you come to hate that "amazing" as much as her husband does.

On the festival's opening night, a very pregnant Rosamund Pike did not make her way down the red carpet, but co-star Carrie Coons (she's in HBO's The Leftovers) said about this actress, she could see how deeply she was into this deeply disturbing character. "I could see it all in her face; Amy developing in her body and Rosamund is such a sweet intelligent person, this was such a contrast: She gives a smart performance in everything she does, only here she does more of it, and we all benefit."

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.