American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Sometimes while channel surfing I'll linger with envy on the Spanish-language stations, where the dramas always seem steamier and more dramatic. I wish I spoke the language. I have a feeling I wouldn't be as bored. Characters make emotional declarations, bosoms heave, eyes flash, hair is tossed, faces are slapped, and there's lots of weeping, especially during emotional partings.
“Star Maps” is a movie that exists in the same emotional range, but it's in English, which is not necessarily an advantage, since you can almost always imagine better dialogue than the actors come up with in soft-core melodrama. The movie tells the story of a malevolent father named Pepe (Efrain Figueroa) who controls a string of young men on Hollywood street corners, who pretend to be selling maps to the stars' homes, but are actually male prostitutes.
As the film opens, Pepe's son Carlos (Douglas Spain), who dreams of being an actor, has returned from Mexico, where he was in amateur productions. He hopes his father's “connections” in show biz will help him get his career started. His father immediately puts him out on the street as a hustler. It's a family tradition: Pepe's own father did the same to him.
Meanwhile, at home, life is chaotic. Pepe's wife, Teresa (Martha Velez), spends most of her time in bed, allegedly dying of cancer. Sometimes she has hallucinations in which she smiles and jokes with Cantinflas, the famous comedian. It was Teresa who sent young Carlos to her family in Mexico to get him away from the evil Pepe, and now that Carlos is back, Teresa has retreated into madness. Her daughter Maria (Lysa Flores), who has somehow escaped the family curse, warns Carlos that their father will destroy him. Meanwhile, another brother spends most of his time on the couch, eating. Occasionally he rouses himself to put on an S M superhero costume and enact private fantasies.