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The Greatest WTF Movie Ever Made
Michael_Elliott4 August 2013
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.
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zombiebird5 August 2013
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.
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Great movie, typical Ellis - detached and cruel
T C4 August 2013
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 seem "unreal".

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.
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Surprisingly Un-Sexy
erostew5 August 2013
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.
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Could I have my two hours back, please?
avenuesf2 August 2013
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.
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Better Than I Expected... But That's Not Saying Much
thefleece24 August 2013
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.


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It's worth at least one viewing.
momentfilms-14 August 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.
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Sociopathic Sex in Canyon-land
tigerfish503 July 2014
'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.
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Really Disappointed, Hoping Better Film in the Future
Musicalplayhouse18 November 2013
I could not finish watching this movie as it is less than a B movie. I stopped watching this movie because of the quality of the acting, the make up, location and overall script. Film looked cheap and cheesy.

It seemed that this movie is going right along with what the tabloids are saying about this actress. It looks like she and her friends who she parties with produced this film.

I expected a lot better, especially of all the hype with Lindsay. Maybe Lindsay seriously has to focus on any project she takes on, especially if she helps produce it.

The public sees you as a particular character in the parts actors and actresses take on. It is part of their reputation.

I hope these actors and actresses can learn from criticism, move on and learn something from it in order to better their skills.
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Poor Lindsay
hemril1 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine that you have been acting since childhood and that at 27 years of age you try to salvage your career by accepting any project that comes your way. Then, imagine one of this projects being a mainstream movie with, for you as a co-star, a porn actor. Moreover, imagine that in the end, he turns out to be a better actor than you. In fact, the entire cast turns out to be better than Lohan in this film. She seems to be there just because of her name. Not only is she horrible at acting, but she looks 45 when she's only 27! I am sure that a high percentage of the male audience for this movie was motivated by the fact that Lohan is showing her breasts. That makes the disappointment even greater. As for the storyline of this movie it is nothing new: it is about jealousy. But the movie fails to present it from a fresh perspective. I give it a 3 because James Deen shows in this movie that he can act.
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Two Provacateurs Chicken Out
britishdominion21 August 2013
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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A complete waste of the talent behind the camera
brchthethird14 November 2014
This is a pretentious piece of crap, with a nary a good performance to be found. The story is repugnant and boring, and all of the characters are soulless, vacuous and empty. Granted, I'd heard about how bad this movie was before I even saw it, but I still expected a little more from Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis. The story is about some trust-fund kid (James Deen) who's also producing a movie so that his (unseen) dad will get off of his back. His live-in girlfriend is played by Lindsay Lohan, and the small cast is rounded out with other characters who know each other, and sleep or have slept with one another. Still, most of the movie is just boring, lifeless dialogue interspersed with some of the most unerotic sex I've ever seen, which includes a foursome. I mean, what were these people thinking? The only redeeming qualities are some good soundtrack selections and good camera-work. That's it. It's best just to take most people's word and just skip this trash.
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Dull, creaky drama that's devoid of relevance.
aforandromeda21 September 2014
The Canyons lays it's cards on the table right from the beginning. The opening scene introduces the main protagonists right off the bat, a curious tactic that immediately signposts the motivations of all the characters.

Tara (Lindsay Lohan) and her rich boyfriend Christian (James Deen) are a couple seemingly living the Hollywood dream. Christian is in the process of cobbling together a low budget slasher movie, using his considerable trust fund in order to break into the film industry. However, the movie's lead, the naive and inexperienced Ryan (Nolan Funk), has a secret that threatens to derail the movie and shatter Tara's relationship with Christian. What follows is a story of suspicion, betrayal and secrets, set in the seedy underbelly of a Los Angeles populated by dream chasers and wanton, predatory selfishness.

The first ten minutes tell the audience immediately that we are dealing with shallow and vacuous individuals, grasping at every opportunity in order to satisfy their self serving natures. This presents the main problems that ultimately ruin any chance that The Canyons might have had of being a compelling drama. In order for a drama to succeed where the majority of the characters are simply dreadful, there has to something to engage the viewer. That could be an interesting script, stylish direction or passionate and sincere performances. The Canyons regrettably has none of these to offer the viewer.

Bret Easton Ellis' script is quite amazingly dull. It really does give the actors very little to work with. The story line contains an unbelievable series of coincidences, the dialogue would embarrass an amateur dramatics class and the characters have no depth to them at all. Lohan tries gamely to prove her acting chops in some scenes, but the dialogue gives her nothing but tired, predictable lines to try and give some life to. It doesn't help matters any further for her that she spends most of the movie opposite James Deen, a porn star who has little or no real acting experience. He starts the movie off reasonably enough, but by the end his acting becomes forced and clichéd. Unfortunately, although Deen isn't primarily a dramatic actor, you can't help but feel that a better director could have coached more out of him. However, even he is streets ahead of the ludicrously named Nolan Funk, who gives a vacant, amateurish and dreadfully stilted performance. That leads me to one of the most significant problems that The Canyons suffers from, that being director Paul Schrader.

Despite his impressive list of past credits, including directing edgy and challenging projects such as Blue Collar and American Gigolo, as well as writing screenplays for most notably Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, it's made abundantly clear from The Canyons why he doesn't make many movies these days. His style is quite simply outdated and his efforts here show that he has done little to keep up with the changes in modern film making that audiences do not unreasonably expect.

The camera-work is creaky and linear, the editing is poor and he overwhelmingly fails to get the best out of an admittedly ragbag collection of actors. You always feel like the crew are in the scene, such are the hackneyed nature of the set ups. For example, many scenes feature an entrance from a character walking into a room with the camera at first at a distance, then either panning across or following them in an unimaginative and linear fashion once it leaves it's previously rigidly static position. Many set ups feel disconcertingly framed, yet they feature hardly anything of interest, lending a stagey, unnatural feel to the proceedings. Strangely, the much talked about sex scenes are so tepid and perfunctory you wonder why they were even bothered with, yet it seems Schrader wanted to elicit some kind of outrageous shock value from them. As they stand, even the actors look rather embarrassed to be in them, even though of course one of them is a porn star.

The talky nature of the dialogue also grates even more than it should as the scenes appear disjointed, either being too long or too short, then simply going on to leave the plot devoid of pace and flow. Locations are curiously bland and the cinematography is completely by the numbers. It all feels very much like the work of someone who didn't have any fresh ideas or flair to assist this very oddly assembled cast who were stuck working with such a tepid script. Everything feels very clichéd and predictable, almost to the point of ridicule.

While Lohan's allegedly erratic behaviour on the set of The Canyons has been well documented, she is actually the only member of this motley crew of a cast to show any real acting ability. There are a handful of scenes that serve as reminders that before her life descended into chaos, she was indeed an real talent with great potential. It would therefore be unfair to blame Lohan and point the finger at her, as many have done, for the critical mauling that The Canyons received. The real blame must go to Ellis and Schrader. I find it remarkable that such an empty screenplay would be made into a movie in the first place and Schrader is a director who is squarely stuck in the past, with his best days as an auteur sadly long behind him.

It's hard to fathom out to what kind of audience The Canyons was aimed at, as it has contains so little in the way of redeeming features. It all amounts to what is frankly an irrelevant and entirely unessential piece of film making that's unquestionably one to avoid. Unfortunately for Lindsay Lohan, this project should have been one for her to avoid as well.
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I didn't even make it halfway through
Gloria Marie2 February 2015
Predictable, usual nihilistic Bret Easton Ellis script, all they do is show bored and cynical people, usually texting o having sex or taking advantage of someone else, "Hollywood style", of course. Broke bartenders/actors ready to do everything for a role, gay people ready to "help" them, pretty girls faking relationships because they don't wanna be broke anymore, the usual, you know. Pouty-lip James Deen is OK as a proper actor I guess, that role didn't require much effort after all. Lindsay is basically playing herself or possibly the tabloid version of herself, I'm afraid. Don't waste your time, unless you're an Easton Ellis die-hard fan.
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Decadence in its pure form
Rodrigo Amaro7 December 2014
I know I shouldn't reference a classic movie while writing about this film but I have to because there's a certain strange connection between both, despite the different outcome each one had. The majority of viewers of "The Canyons" might never have heard of "The Misfits" (1961), that depressive tale starring Gable, Monroe, Clift and directed by John Huston, a reunion of washed up characters that never seem to do anything right in life, and behind the scenes it was another sad story as well, becoming the final films of Marilyn and Clark, and Monty's career already in ruins, didn't get better later on. Rumor has it, the movie was on TV the day he died, someone asked him if he wanted to see it, to which he replied with a 'no'. Yet that was a marvelous picture and still interesting to watch. What's Paul Schrader movie has to do with it? It's also a story about washed up people (in and off the movie) who try to do something with their lives but only manage to complicate things. Unlike "The Misfits", this excuse for a movie is simply dull, hollow and idiotic.

The same hands that wrote the great "American Psycho" and "Less than Zero" are the same that brings this movie to life. Can you believe that? Yep, Bret Easton Ellis tries to deliver a piece involving Hollywood and its nasty schemes of money, power, sex, lies, betrayal and love going out the window. In it, famous producer film Christian (porn star James Deen, trying his big break in conventional films) goes bazoork after finding out that his wife (Lindsay Lohan) is having an affair with Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk), the leading man he selected to star in his new project. Conflict, or catch some might say: Christian doesn't mind sharing his lovely wife with other partners in orgies and wild parties as long as he's there as well, so it's kind of weird when he reacts in a psychotic way after discovering the affair. "I love you because I trust you" he says at the beginning, maybe it's the other way around, I don't know.

That side of the story is pure garbage, and the more the film tries to bring sensuality or just throw some sex scene, the more embarrassing it gets. It looks like a lousy carbon copy of a softcore (and trust me, there's softcore flicks with better plot and sexy moments than this thing), the sex is just presented very briefly, with no deep connection with the story, and even the sequences involving nudity are tame, prudishly captured. Whether being a weird drama or a unsexy thriller, "The Canyons" doesn't hit right at anything. There's not even a bold or original take into Hollywood way of running things, no critique, no judgment, just the exploitation of us unfortunate viewers.

I only (slightly) cared about "The Canyons" in the sequences involving Ryan, the young and struggling actor caught in the middle of complicated situations, torn about acting in a good project - but what's it about, anyway? the movie never tells us - and staying with the love of his life, the decadent actress married with Christian, and Ryan also happens to be married. Throughout the film, he spends his time trying to find ways to be in the picture, no matter the consequences (since he's a drop dead gorgeous guy, he's frequently tempted by guys who have power in the business) he fights for that role mostly because it's the only thing for him to do.

Gathered here is the ultimate members of the decadent career group: Lohan post-rehab career, another low movie for her; the unlucky director Schrader - his latest ventures are quite troubled, specially with producers who remove the man cause he never delivers the movie they wanted (apparently, that didn't happen here but it happened with the fourth Exorcist and the recent "Dying of the Light") but at one time he was a gifted filmmaker and writer; and Ellis, whose script is just another proof that some novelists shouldn't write original film material. Coming out of the porn universe, Mr. Deen proves to be a suitable and good choice for the frightening character he plays, his alpha-male quality was powerful enough to make you believe this guy can do anything he wants and with anyone he wants. A little bit of acting classes and he might have a future in mainstream films. Also from porn, but just doing a bit uncredited part is Danny Wylde who should have a better and bigger cameo.

The only ones who escape without injuries are Nolan Funk, quite good in some moments, and one scene stealer Gus Van Sant as Christian's shrink. Just because it's a movie about decadence filled with down and out people that doesn't mean the final project should be like them. The fore-mentioned classic is a clear evidence of this. 3/10
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Low-budget film has a few good points, but too dreary and sordid to enjoy
highwaytourist4 May 2014
While "The Canyons" is not a total loss, it still doesn't work. As mentioned, it's about this spoiled and mentally unbalanced trust fund baby named Christian (James Deen) who's accustomed to getting his way, and his gold-digging yet not entirely unsympathetic girlfriend, former actress Tara (Lindsay Lohan). They live in a stylish mansion and have sex with each other and sometimes have guests join them. Partly on his father's insistence that he work, Christian produces the occasional film and one of those films stars Ryan (Gerard Funk Nolan), a hunky actor whom Tara was once lovers with and whom she still secretly loves. This unexpectedly makes Christian violently jealous (even he's surprised by his reaction) and sets in motion eventual tragedy. None of the people here are all that likable, not even the seemingly idealistic Ryan, and the low budget shows. The gratuitous sex and violence is reeks of exploitation. Yet the film is watchable at times. The entertainment industry is somewhat captured and some of the dialog is perceptive. The acting is somewhat better than one would expect. James Deen is a porn star, yet he shows he can carry a lead role without sinking a legitimate film. More importantly, Lindsay Lohan gives her best performance in years. She's a greedy user not because she likes to be, but because she believes she has no choice, yet she's still capable of love isn't really out to hurt anyone. I don't recommend this film, but it's not as terrible as it could have been. For all its faults, "The Canyons" has its moments.
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A movie to avoid
nicoloszenberg16 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Just few words to avoid other people to lose time with this movie : actors are terrible, worst then anyone can imagine. Lindasy Lohan is pathetic, James Deen can be successful only in the porn industry but not for the acting (it looks he has another quality), Nolan Gerard Funk is a disaster. The story has no meaning, the end has no meaning, compliments to Bret Easton Ellis who wrote a script whose mark could be ...less then zero! Paul Schrader filmed his worst movie ever and possibly the worst I have ever seeing in my entire life. It is not a B movie, it is a below Z movie. Sometimes I am wondering if the producers are sleeping while they are reading the scripts : I don't think they spent a lot of money for the movie, but in any case too much! Do not go watching it.
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Com'on people... give 'em a break.
SnoopyStyle7 August 2013
Seeing that this stars Lindsay Lohan the train-wreck and James Deen the porn star, the long knives are coming out for this movie before it finished taping. With all the bad press, I was expecting an amateurish mess. The one main thing that I got from this film was that this was professionally made.

The filming style looks good. Lindsay Lohan is ... well ... Lindsay. Certainly she's not going to win any awards but she still has the screen presence. James Deen does a good douche bag. Maybe that's just his real personality. Everybody fit their roles. Lindsay is a cold emotionally damaged ex-star. Deen is sexually perverted. They might as well used their real names.

The one thing that I wish they would improve on is setting up more danger at the start. A better foreshadowing would improve the tension. Instead, it's strictly a linear time line and the start of the movie is rather slow. It doesn't actually start moving till the middle of the movie. Overall, it's a good effort for a low budget indie.
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A weak soap opera with few redeeming qualities
ghosthardware6 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film was intriguing to me for a few reasons. I was curious how Lindsay Lohan fared in this role. As her private life imploded, her career vanished in an instant. Not that I'm a big Lohan fan but she showed promise once and I was curious if that spark was still there. I was also intrigued by the fact that Bret Easton Ellis had written the script and that the film was created on a mere $250,000 Kickstarter budget.

A fairly simple (if not somewhat familiar) plot, Christian is a trust fund baby turned movie producer who is in a swinging relationship with Tara. When Christian discovers that the lead actor in his film has a past with Tara and that they are having an affair, he decides that murder is the best way to deal. As another reviewer stated, this film basically felt like one big soap opera. And a weak one at that. The film focuses on the assumptions and dramas that surround the characters but we never see them actually working. In fact, the film only occasionally ventures outside of the characters' impressive apartments/homes so we don't see anything of these characters other than their sordid personal lives. I was unimpressed with Ellis' screenplay. The concept of sleaze, sex, money, violence and apathy has been done to much greater effect in his other works, such as American Psycho and Less Than Zero. With a runtime of 1 hr 40 min, it feels much longer. I found myself fighting to stay invested in the story. I wasn't interested in the characters and the plot was thin. After watching Ellis slam yuppie Wall Street and trust fund baby drug addicts in the previously mentioned films, his trademark of extreme actions performed in an unaffected way when applied to the world of Hollywood and filmmaking felt derivative. We already know Hollywood is heartless and superficial. What's new? The acting, while not bad, wasn't too good either. The dialog seemed rushed, as though the actors were just waiting on each other to finish their lines. Lohan looked tired and bloated and her performance too subdued. I'd like to think Lohan can turn out some quality work but it's difficult to tell from this film, as I just didn't feel she was the right fit for the role and I couldn't tell if it was truly bad acting or just botox and booze that was limiting her range. Nothing yanks me out a film faster than an actor whose face doesn't move. It renders any scene involving expression of emotion ineffective. I've read somewhat positive reactions to James Deen's acting. While I do feel his acting exceeded my expectations, my bar wasn't set very high. Porn actor or not, his performance was better than I expected but still a bit too subtle for me.

Funny thing is, for me, I think the film would've been much better if the actors never said a word. I found the cinematography outstanding. Desaturated, washed out images of decrepit, abandoned movie theaters scattered throughout the film and during the end credits were visually stunning. I found myself enjoying the end credits more than the film itself.

I haven't yet decided if I disliked the script because of the script itself or because of the acting. Something I've discovered after watching The Canyons is that Ellis' work requires very strong, talented actors. Otherwise, the overall effect is hollow, unconvincing and uninteresting. The characters are detestable and one dimensional. I did wonder for a moment how this film might have been different if it had a Hollywood budget. But then again, one could argue that this film was a big middle finger to the world of Hollywood and the studios.

Overall, I wouldn't say this film was a waste of time. The stylized visuals set the mood and feel so if the actors themselves didn't compel, the visuals did. I also stop short of saying the acting was "bad". It wasn't good but not bad considering the actors were paid next to nothing. I wouldn't pay to see this but it wouldn't be a total waste if you happen to catch it on cable. Watch it on cable and form your own opinion but I don't feel it's worth shelling out any money.
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not necessarily on par with the worsts
thealefmagnus19 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Written by Bret Easton Ellis, the same literary mastermind behind American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction, you just know there's going to be something great about this film. So what's all the hate? Let's take ourselves back to Tara's dialogue in the film, "Do you really like movies?" It doesn't take someone to be part of the actual process of filmmaking or have experience working in the production of one for them to like movies. What's my point? What most people fail to see is that the whole movie is a reflection of the destruction of film as an art form. I'm not saying the movie intended itself to be bad or flawed. It only failed to get its message across because most people are too focused on several other things. This is how "Film" degraded as the once highest form of art.

We are more interested in the technicalities and we started becoming "film Nazis" in our own right. Instead of focusing on the message of the film and how that message is delivered through the art form, we try to base a film's greatness on the sparkling visuals, the "Meryl Streep"-ness of an actor's acting ability, and the witty, memorable dialogues. Films have become a spectacle, rather an object of meaning.

How did I come up with this outrageous claim? Let's go back to the movie itself (especially for those who have seen it). The story revolves around the main character Tara (Lindsay Lohan) who lives with her producer boyfriend, trust-fund kid Christian (James Deen). As the plot unfolds, you find out that Tara is secretly involved with her ex, Ryan (Nolan Funk), who is still trying his luck as an actor. Ryan's current co-producer girlfriend, Gina (Amanda Brooks), is trying her best to help her boyfriend's dreams come true and make it big. What characters do we have? People who are all in the industry for their own personal gain. No one is actually concerned about the content of the movie they are making.

Christian is only on the project so he can show his dad he is doing something with the money. Both Tara and Gina only did their part so they can help Ryan achieve his dreams. Ryan wants nothing but to finally become a big film star and he will do anything to maintain his role in the project. Even the minor characters working on the project expresses their shallow concerns, such as those working on the set only treating actors. The plot in itself shows more concern over the infidelity of Tara and the attempts of Christian to uncover the affair.

As viewers, how did we miss the point? We were more concerned on the technicalities of the film. Everyone was dubbing it as Lindsay Lohan's "comeback." People were looking in with utmost scrutiny whether Lohan can pull it off or not after being a tabloid staple. Much attention was also focused on famous pornstar James Deen as he crosses over to mainstream cinema. Can he act at all? Will there be nudity? If there is, how much of it? It also marks Lohan's first time to bare her chest in more than one scene in the film. This also became a news item for several weeks while the movie is in production. Other troubles on set leading to the film's unsure status on its release.

The Canyons, is an erotic thriller set in the Hollywood backdrop about a group of narcissistic individuals working on a film project. It has a film noir feel to it and boasts a picturesque opening credits of theaters in various states of destruction. Lohan's performance, in my opinion is better than some of the movies I've seen her in. One great scene to showcase this is when Christian threatens her into an alibi. When Christian says "That's a good girl" and she breaks down while trying to compose herself. That was topnotch. James Deen, on the other hand, while not perfect is a surprise as a flat and sinister brat who has deep psychological issues. Nolan Funk has his very visible good and bad moments which contributes to the flaw of the film while Amanda Brooks shines. Bret Easton Ellis' continues his trademark of narcissistic characters and director Paul Schrader brought style to a difficult script. While the opening scene is great, a certain number of scenes undoubtedly require better execution.

While not among the greats and not necessarily on par with the worsts, The Canyons is still a movie worth seeing. It's a thriller that displays dominance, power play, and the hazards of discontentment.
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Soft Porn aLLert
thesar-227 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
While I'm never objecting to more male nudity, specifically full-frontal male nudity, this literal porn (albeit soft, if you will) movie was not worth the out-come.

Imagine the first few minutes of a porn. The pizza guy arrives at a cougar's home. She has no money to pay for said pizza but invites him in for some fun in lieu of the bill. Five minutes later, we're onto the next guy, and so on.

While not as graphic, but close to, The Canyons combines the acting, dialogue, the full-frontal nudity and camera angles of the standard porn movie with a weak and unexpected story from an established writer such as Bret Easton Ellis of American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction and Less Than Zero fame. This guy is no amateur as this movie portrays. He knows what he's doing.

So, why then, does this movie feel like someone spent $5 on a memory card and shot at their friend's houses?

Ironically, this movie covers the amateurs in the business and pretty much shows you what to expect when you watch this as a "movie."

Basically, Sexual Stud Christian and his Glitter-esque player girlfriend, Tara (Lindsay Lohan) have fun with the money they normally wouldn't have, but then very bad things happen and so-called "real life" settles in.

The movie feels very amateurish and if it's a vehicle for Lindsay to have a normal Hollywood life again, it fails. In fact, it fails everywhere and that's sad considering the mild talent here.

Skip it, unless you want some kind of drinking game or are in the mood for soft-porn, mostly naked guys kind of movie. I swear, with Bret Easton Ellis, the writer, has to be either bisexual or homosexual…he always seem to engage his straight characters into homosexual acts.

I generally have no problem with that. Unless it involves an hour and a half or more of my life.
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I have to believe that all those stills of deserted cinemas
otoole0076 August 2013
... Is a message that cinema is dead. This movie is certainly a sign.

I would have expected at least some titillation from Schrader and Elllis. Some decent violence, sex.... A worthwhile story maybe?

This movie is unbelievably flat. The rest of the actors are so incredibly awful they make Lohan look good (well better than them).

Deen is a real revelation. Possibly the worst performance I've seen and it is not a style decision. Hope his cock performs better than the rest of him.

Did Gus owe these Gus a favor? Unbelievable how beaten LL looks. Has the face of a 50 year old alcoholic and that's with professional makeup. Just because everyone in the flick keeps telling me how beautiful she is doesn't make it so. I honestly hope she can clean it up.
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I watched only because I thought to myself "It can't be THAT bad!"...oops!
Bradley-Grube11 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I read an article yesterday in which the writer of this movie, Bret Easton Ellis, said that he couldn't understand the hate for this movie. Really? You don't know? How about the fact that you cast a porn star as one of your leads? There's one reason. James Deen gives you a performance here that is no different than what he gave you in "Anal Buffet 8" (not making that up folks). I half expected him to show up at Lindsay Lohan's door in a pizza delivery uniform. The other lead, Nolan Gerard Funk, was slightly better than Deen...slightly. Here's another reason for the hate. The script was dismal. Christian(Deen) and Tara(Lohan) are living together in a huge house in LA where they enjoy, or at least Christian does, an open relationship where Christian gets his meat and two veg off sharing Tara with other men. When he finds out that Tara is having an affair with the lead in a movie he is financing(Funk), he goes nuts. Huh? Christian has Tara followed everywhere and starts messing with Funks's character by hacking his bank account and pretending to have him replaced in the movie. At this point Christian is in firm control over Funk's character and Tara. So much so that he decides to murder Funk's ex girlfriend?! Say what? To top it all off, he confesses to Tara that "something happened" to this poor girl and needs an alibi. All this while Tara is trying to break off the relationship. Christian is of course upset that Tara is leaving...I think...You know, I couldn't tell. That's how good Deen is here. I won't give away the ending because I had no idea what the heck happened at the end...yeah. To summarize, this movie had terrible acting, a ridiculously bad story and dialog fit for Deen's main profession. Don't see it, really. I thought the critics were being too hard on this movie and I was wrong. So very very wrong.
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One of the Top Five Worst Movies of All Time
marshagentry22 June 2014
I knew nothing about this movie when I accidentally got hooked on it. I thought it was almost over when I tuned in, and I left it on out of morbid curiosity. Lindsay's acting isn't bad. It's actually good, at least in parts. It is Lindsay who looks so phony herself; she's difficult to look at with cheap uneven hair extensions and hard makeup. Her face looks puffed up. She works pretty hard at throwing away her career. I can't understand why she did this.

What got my attention was a guy who takes off his pants for a full-frontal view of him, not a quick view, maybe five seconds or so, while he moves around with his jewels exposed, followed by Lindsay taking off her top to show her boobs, and a third guy going down on her on the sofa while the naked man has his way with himself. Yuck and ick.

The first thing wrong with the movie is the script. None of the dialog is clever. No witty banter, and there should be, because the only thing to this movie is dialog....and some boring sex. Not much action. Just a little. There is only one storyline going on. A good script will have several mini-plots interwoven into the main plot. Here is the gist of it that is revealed early in the movie: Will he or won't he catch her cheating, and what will he do about it? This should be a sub-plot, not the main story.

These actors looked like soap actors or waiters, not that I have a thing against either. All the cast seemed to be roughly the same age. I'm attempting to explain why the cast of men seems generic to me. A pug nose with a good head of hair and some muscles will get you into this movie if you don't mind saying the F-word 20 or 30 times

The music is pretty funny as well. I confess to watching this movie for the fun of it. I recognized it as a baddie right away, when the guy dangled his jewels.

Save you money unless you have a weird sense of humor, a boring life and time to waste..
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