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I think that a lot of the criticism of "The Canyons" is missing the
point. All of Ellis' stories have a detached quality in them which
makes them hard for audiences to relate to, especially on screen. They
A constant theme in Ellis' work is the existential "ennui", the boredom and emptiness of life, the absence of deeper meaning. His main characters feel that something is missing, but they can't pinpoint what it is. As an audience, we know what they are missing - connection with themselves and others, and genuine emotion. This is why there is so much disconnect between the protagonists and the viewers.
It may be that the choice of Hollywood as a backdrop for this display of existential emptiness is an unlucky one because few people can relate to wealthy Hollywood life on a personal level.
However, I applaud the filmmakers for at least having the guts to try. The people in this movie are all choosing materialism over personal connection, and mechanical sex instead of intimacy, an orgasm is for them a reflex just like sneezing. Neither money, sex, nor social status provide happiness for those who get it in abundance; only those who don't have it in abundance think they will bring happiness. The values that popular culture upholds are devoid of value.
In addition, I think James Deen does a perfect job playing a narcissistic, controlling, emotionally empty vessel on the verge of snapping, and Lindsay Lohan (this is her first movie I've seen, and given the bad press, I'm positively surprised) does a great job playing a woman despairing from choosing hell in physical luxury, while starving emotionally.
Horrible horrible movie. To start with the story is far from original and the pathetic writing doesn't really add much to it. For the 1st 40 minutes or so you kind of feel like you're watching a bad B-movie, after which it turns into a bad urban suspense thriller, most of which will either make you roll your eyes or just laugh. The acting is pathetic, I'm pretty sure school kids could act better than this, but then again it's not like they had a lot to work with as I've already stated, but I feel distinctly sure that even if they did, they'd still be horrible. The directing is amateurish, trying desperately to make the movie seem "arty" but failing. A lot of the stuff didn't even make scene, like counting the days (Monday-Wednesday), why were we doing that again? How exactly did that fit in with anything else? Well that's about it for my review, just one more thing I'd like to mention is the horrible soundtrack which makes you feel like you're in a sleazy strip club. In short, don't watch this.
This film suffers heavily from a distinct lack of sexiness and way too
much boring dialogue. And that is just the beginning of the problems.
You really know a film is bad when Lindsay Lohan is the only bright
light in it!
The Acting: Lindsay Lohan does quite a good job in a couple of scenes involving emotion, though she is much less effective in the (too abundant) dialogue heavy scenes. James Deen shows a few flashes of talent but mainly seems as if he is trying to emulate a method actor with no real understanding of how to actually pull it off. The other "performances" are uniformly bad to less-bad.
The Writing: One word... Awful. Boring dialogue and unbelievable story. Poor ending. I think Bret Easton Ellis is a one-trick pony. He has never managed to equal what he achieved with American Psycho.
The Directing: Same word as above... Awful. Paul Schraeder really should sink back into obscurity. This project is definitely not going to help his career. Poor choice of camera angles and poor framing abounds. He shows no sign of his earlier talents. I think he is lost in his own imagined "genius" as he tries for a gritty realism and gets ugly pretentiousness.
Camera, Lighting, etc.: Poor lighting in almost every indoor scene. It looks like it was shot on a smart phone. The music is irritating. Wardrobe... What wardrobe? It looks like the actors supplied the clothes they wanted to wear. There is no costume design or set design in evidence here.
Sexiness: Basically there is none. Lindsay Lohan looks pretty sad with her prominent beer belly, sagging breasts and 1960s style lingerie. Control-top granny panties are not lust-inducing! The sex scenes are boring and much less spicy than the hype suggested. The "orgy" was so badly filmed it and lit that it was impossible to find it sexy or even interesting. Women or those with a gay interest may find it more sexually appealing but I don't find dangling limp penises to be anything but silly looking. The entertainment media painted this as shockingly graphic but it is pretty tame compared to cable shows like True Blood if you discount the number of penises on view.
In Conclusion: Not really worth a look even if you just want to see Lindsay Lohan in the buff. There was more of her on view in Playboy and her body looked at least a bit better in the magazine. If you are looking for titillating sex scenes you would be better off with Skinemax. If you want to see a dramatic expose of Hollywood's dark underbelly look elsewhere. In fact just look elsewhere. Period.
I've been waiting to see this film for some time, and was finally just able to see it on VOD. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment, especially considering Paul Schrader directed it. The combination of he and Bret Easton Ellis is not a good one. The film is yet another saga of bored Hollywood individuals looking for meaning in life - pretty much the common theme of BEE's novels - and indulging in sex, mind games and jealousy while attempting to hold on to their flailing, angst-filled existences. Mr. Schrader drives the point home further by occasionally interspersing shots of dilapidated, closed movie theaters to show us how the "old Hollywood" has decayed. "The Canyons" attempts very hard to shock, but unfortunately, we've seen it all before, as Hollywood has been making these caricatures of itself since the 70's and 80's. Lindsay Lohan is surprisingly effective in her role most of the time, and carries a lot of the film. James Deen, who I was not familiar with as I'm not that into porn, also does a believable job (and illustrates WHY he's had a career in porn during his full frontal shot). There's also a refreshing twist during a four-way sex scene. But I was left wondering at the end of the film - and it ends very awkwardly - what was the point, and how could anyone invest much empathy in these characters? I understand "The Canyons" opens today in Los Angeles and New York, as well as being simultaneously offered on television and Itunes via pay-per-view. I would be very surprised if this gets any further than those two major cities; it's just not engrossing or original enough to draw in much of an audience.
"We're all actors, aren't we?"
I really, really, really did not expect porn star James Deen to be anything more than a wooden embarrassment in his grown-up movie debut, but I was happy to find that both he and fellow 'adult entertainer' Danny Wylde were just fine, easily as good as the rest of the 'professional' cast and notably more comfortable in front of the camera than Lindsay Lohan, who - though the biggest name in it - is probably the weakest link in the film. Looking as worn out and over-the-hill as she does, it doesn't help that all the characters continually keep saying how she's the hottest girl they've ever seen.
This is a real movie, and one which fits in perfectly with the cinematic worlds both Ellis and Schrader have created before, such as The Informers, Rules Of Attraction, Hardcore and Auto Focus. And it's an OK movie, too - not great but certainly as good as the majority of other small-scale independent films out there. It has a genuine presence and power and things to say about the iphone age, the shallowness of modern relationships, and the lies we all tell one another. I loved all the shots of the closed-down, boarded-up movie houses, and some of the brooding camera-work and pulsing electronic score put me in mind of 'Drive' as much as anything else.
As with much of Ellis' work there is a slightly gay worldview and a set of observations which don't ring quite so accurate when presented as a depiction of the motives and behaviour of wider society. But that works well here, adding to the creepy, off-key and uncertain atmosphere, and again fits in with the world of his previous books and films.
To sum up, it's no Citizen Kane or Sunset Boulevard but it's far from a disaster, and well worth a look for those that can come to it with open eyes.
Release Date: 2nd August 2013 (US)
After starring briefly in two of the years worst films, Lindsay Lohan makes her full length return in Paul Schrader's "The Canyons". A film that documents just how crazy one individual can go, when he finds out about the secret love affair between his girlfriend and the lead on his film project.
With this being Lindsay Lohan's first full length appearance since the critically panned, "Labor Pains" released in 2009, there has been a lot of correspondence and speculation surrounding this indie flick.
Despite hearing some very mixed opinions, I have to say I wasn't particularly fazed by "The Canyons". The film is littered with problems, yet I never really had any trouble sitting through it. It is overdramatic and slightly ridiculous, but at times, that alone makes it a very compelling watch.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't enjoy the movie, but I didn't dislike it either. It's a very middle of the road experience. Well at least it was for me anyway.
The films production budget is very low. So don't go into it expecting some extravagant revenge-romance esque thriller, because that's not what it is. In a way, the films plot-line could be compared to that of a soap opera. It's not particularly exciting, but it is partially entertaining watching it unfold.
However, for such a low budget film ($250,000 to be precise), the film is actually rather attractive. It is very well lit and the various locations work with the direction that the film goes in. It's well cinematised, and in terms of shots, whilst it doesn't do anything original, there were times when I was watching the film amending some of the cinematography.
Now a lot of media outlets have compared to the film to porn. I don't necessarily agree with that statement. Sure there are specific body parts that are revealed on numerous occasions, but whilst there is an emphasis on sex, it's not as explicit as a lot of people have made it out to be.
The performances are average. Nobody really impressed me and whilst nobody is bad, some of the dialogue is very cheesy and repetitive, but of course that can only be blamed on the writers. Lindsay Lohan offers a solid turn as does real life porn star, James Deen, but nobody does anything that you're going to love or remember the next day. Everyone's very mediocre, and due to how ridiculous the film eventually becomes, the characters all end up becoming rather comical.
Whilst the film does lack in its key areas, along with the cinematography, one of the aspects I liked was the score. I will be the first to admit that it does sound very amateurish, but the electronic nature of it occasionally works, with what the movie is trying to present. That presentation being that shouldn't have affairs, especially if you're dating a complete an utter psychopath.
I have to admit The Canyons was lot of better than I expected it to be. I didn't necessarily enjoy it, but there were aspects to it that I liked. Perhaps I'm being too nice, but for a low budget production I didn't find it too bad. If you have a partial interest in seeing it, see it. But if you don't, then I wouldn't bother.
Check out my website: www.jacks-reviews.com
The Canyons (2013)
1/2 (out of 4)
Paul Schrader's latest deals with the rich Christian (James Deen) who's living in Los Angeles and seems to have it all until he learns that his girlfriend/sex partner (Lindsay Lohan) is having an affair with a man (Nolan Gerard Funk) who he hired in his latest movie. THE CANYONS is without question the greatest WTF movie in the history of cinema or at least to date. I say this because there was never a single second during this film where I understood what was going on or what director Schrader or screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis were trying to say or do. This film is without question a complete and utter mess and for the life of me I can't understand what the point of it was unless the only goal was to make it as cheap as they could and hope that the Lohan nude scenes would gain enough interest to make some money. Both Schrader and Ellis are so incredibly talented that it would be easy to make fun of this picture but I personally found it rather sad as neither man has found themselves involved with something this bad before and worse of all is the fact that the film makes no sense. It's meant to be some sort of twisted erotic thriller but there isn't a single thrill and the sex scenes aren't nearly as shocking as it appears the filmmakers think they are. Had this been made twenty-years ago then it might have been considered shocking but in today's day and age everything just comes across as pretty lame. Deen is fair in his first non-porn role but he certainly doesn't show enough here to warrant any future movies. The supporting players are all either bland or downright horrid and often times it seems like we're watching line rehearsals instead of an actual take. As for Lohan, well, sadly she once again is pretty bad. She just doesn't have any emotional depth here and even during her nude scenes she just looks incredibly uncomfortable and especially during a shower sequence. I'm sure this nudity is what's going to make most people check this thing out but it's really not worth it. The film also features a bad music score, some forgettable cinematography and worse of all is how deadly boring it is from start to finish. The dialogue is downright laughable and the overall feel is something cheaper and worse than what you'd expect to see on Cinemax at three in the morning. I guess the best thing I can say is that it's actually the best of the three movies Lohan has released in 2013.
I was eager to see 'The Canyons' because of Paul Schrader, Brett Easton Ellis directing and writing respectively, and Lindsay Lohan as the lead. I'm not a LiLo fanatic by any means, but I have always thought that given the right script and director she would be primed for a comeback. And if she can clean up her personal life then maybe she deserves one. The film for me was neither horrible nor far from perfect. The movie opens with scenes of boarded up movie theaters's, and I don't quite get the symbolism there since Hollywood seems alive and well. It is puzzling to me though that the Schrader/Ellis team had to go the Kickstarter route to raise a minute $250,000 for the budget. As you probably know, the film center's around two couples- a trust fund 'doucebag' named Christian who hasn't even read the script for the movie he is helping fund and Lohan as his girlfriend Tara, and unknown to Christian, Tara's ex Ryan, who is now dating Christian's assistant. Ryan has also been cast as the lead in the movie, and he and Tara are still hooking up. You would think Christian wouldn't be jealous of Tara's sex life since he constantly invites strange men and women into their bedroom, but of course he is. He suspects Tara is sleeping with Ryan, and things spiral out of control from there. Much has and will be said about the sex scene's in the film, but for me what really worked was Lohan's performance. You can sense that the actress knows her career is in trouble, and when she talks about needing to be taken care of, and not wanting to go back to being poor, you start to wonder where the acting stops and her real life begins. The movie isn't perfect, and the performances are flawed. I'm not at all happy with the ending, but I still think it's worth watching.
'The Canyons' is a farcical tale about a collection of characters who
deceive and manipulate each other to distract from the emptiness of
their lives. Chief amongst them is a sociopathic film producer,
Christian, whose jaded girlfriend Tara reluctantly consents to the sex
orgies he arranges with random internet strangers. After Tara helps a
former boyfriend, Ryan, get the lead role in Christian's new movie,
they resume their old affair, despite Ryan having a girlfriend called
Gina who is also working on the film. Christian grows increasingly
suspicious of Tara's fidelity outside the group sex dynamic, and has
her followed by a slacker private eye, while he hooks up with a former
assistant, who is also an old girlfriend of Ryan.
This juvenile nonsense is merely the set-up, and director Shrader cannot elevate the subsequent hokey-pokey above the level of a day-time soap after making disastrous casting decisions with Lindsay Lohan, James Deen and Nolan Funk as his lead trio. The only competent actor is Amanda Brooks who plays the scorned Gina in a minor role. Although she's actually five years older than Lohan, she looks fifteen years younger and fifty times more desirable than the supposedly irresistible Tara. Sex is a crucial plot element, but no erotic intensity is generated since the characters are pathetically undeveloped. Instead the film wastes many tedious minutes on lengthy shots of them entering and exiting cars and buildings. 'The Canyons' limps along with wooden direction, dialog, acting and storytelling, failing miserably to invest this portrayal of Hollywood's seedy glamor with any vitality. None of the deceptions and manipulations have any discernible goal, but they eventually lead to a pointless act of violence and an implausible tired conclusion.
Whoo-boy, saw "The Canyons" and I guess to damn it with faint praise is
that it isn't the worst movie I have seen this year (congrats still,
"Grown Ups 2").
"The Canyons" does have its minor moments of art-directed, abject L.A. decadence and contains a modicum of car-crash curiosity. Lindsay Lohan is OK in it, as is porn star James Deen - although both are characters I'd pretty much cross the street to avoid in real life.
The movie is as nihilistic and dead-at-it's-core as it was designed to be, particularly expected when you have the guys who collectively created American Psycho and Taxi Driver piloting this thing. In fact, if you took Bret Easton Ellis' "Less Than Zero" and spliced it with Paul Schrader's "American Gigolo", you've pretty much got this movie's number.
Schrader's camera captures the vacuum of this glam couple well in the early going setting up Lohan and Deen's hedonistic, vacant relationship - its coolly pointed in its visual observation. Ellis manages to make a few catty points about the movie industry and those who work in it. It doesn't add up to much, though.
Perhaps coked-up "The Canyons" greatest misstep is that it settles to be forgettable mid-grade trash instead of a batsh*t-great guilty pleasure. The movie seems satisfied to recline in low-speed soap-opera theatrics, softcore antics and smug button-pushing instead of putting pedal to the metal and really going gonzo - which both writer and director are prone to do in their own individual projects.
In the end, the film's final act basically torpedoes whatever low-budget goodwill the picture had cobbled together. Both director Schrader and writer Ellis are expert provocateurs and have done - and will do - better than this shoestring experiment. Still, it coulda been worse.
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