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Canyons [Blu-ray] [Import]

3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Canyon of emptiness Feb. 24 2014
There are bad movies that make you angry. There are bad movies that make you laugh. And then... there are bad movies that make you feel a little depressed and icky, but mostly just bored.

"The Canyons" is the last kind -- a hollow low-budget melodrama that begins and ends with empty pretension. It has roughly the same kind of story (shallow rich people, sex, murder) that Bret Easton Ellis has been writing for the past several decades, centering on a rapidly deteriorating Lindsay Lohan and her smoker's croak.

Rich brat/movie producer Christian (James Deen) is in a relationship with Tara (Lohan), an aging party-girl who desperately wants the financial security he gives her. Every night, Christian brings in other people (both male and female) to have sex with Tara while he watches, and sometimes they participate in group sex.

Tara convinces Christian to cast struggling actor/bartender Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk) in his latest schlock movie -- without mentioning that Ryan is her ex-boyfriend, and that she's having a secret affair with him. But Christian suspects what Tara and Ryan are up to -- and he sets out to destroy his rival in any way possible. Even murder.

Even before it was made, "The Canyons" was overshadowed by the forces behind it -- it was written by Ellis, directed by Richard Schrade, and starred the perennial train-wreck Lindsay Lohan in her "comeback." What was more, the movie was funded by Kickstarter and distributed on VOD. This movie could have been on the vanguard of the new wave of entertainment production...

... but to do that, it would have to be good. And it's not.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it April 2 2014
Most people would only go to see this movie basically because Lindsay Lohan is in it and are curious to see how far she has fallen. Well, she did a pretty convincing job playing Tara, a failed and aging actress who latches onto a rich guy she doesn't particularly care for. She provides him with sex and agrees to threesomes and foursomes (which becomes clear she doesn't really like all that much) and in return she gets a nice place to live, money to spend and a fancy car to drive. I wonder if the actress Lohan sees the irony in the role she is playing, which is basically herself. I doubt it, but she does a good job. James Deen also does a good job in his role of a controlling jerk who slowly unhinges when the situation devolves to such a point where he isn't actually in control of anything. The plus side to his performance is that as a porn actor he isn't shy about doing frontal nudity, and we hardly ever get to see a penis in any mainstream movie because "it isn't part of the story line). Try telling that to all the boobs and vag we see all the time in just about every made nowadays.

Director Schader does a really good job of putting all these elements together into an appealing final product. It isn't art, but it isn't garbage either. I have always liked his work, from Cat People, to Hardcore to Hearst etc. So this wasn't a disappointment. I recommend it, but only if you can get past Lohan's offscreen antics. Then you might be able to see the little gem hidden behind all the gossip.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Movie about a movie Jan. 6 2014
By ellison
Lohan is James Deen's girlfriend and he is making a movie. She gets Deen to hire her ex-boyfriend and then lies about it. Deen goes crazy which he already is. Lohan shows some bosom and there is a bit of girl-girl. Swearing throughout.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.6 out of 5 stars  143 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much, delivers very little Aug. 26 2013
By ceindaco - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The movie pretends to portray the life of an aspiring model in LA that finds that is not always easy to make it in Hollywood. It starts OK, tries to develop a story with a somewhat complex love triangle. From there though, it goes down really quick, never gets to a point that makes sense, the characters individual stories are never fully explained and the few images that could attract some of the viewers leave you with more questions than answers. I would not call it soft porn since it does not make it that far, even though some scenes are close, but an attempt to tease the viewers that gets lost in the camera movement and angles. Of course the acting is second class, even Lindsay that is the more experienced actress in the movie (and that is saying something) more often than not looks like she is trying too hard. Some of the dialogues are vague and empty and leave you wondering why in the world that scene was even there. Overall, I would not recommend it but if you like independent noir type films; then you can probably find some parts that you like in this movie.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The (Not-So-Grand) Canyons Dec 12 2013
By B. Wells - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
With Paul Schrader directing, Brett Easton Ellis penning the screenplay, Lindsay Lohan starring and porn stud James Deen as the leading man, the erotic thriller "The Canyons" seemed like a dicey proposition from the outset. With the exception of Deen, the careers of the others have certainly seen better days; "The Canyons" is unlikely to herald a reversal of fortune for anyone involved. Like a dessicated amalgam of its creators greatest hits--think Schrader's "American Gigolo"/"The Comfort of Strangers"/"Auto Focus" meets Ellis' "American Psycho"/"Rules of Attraction"/"Less Than Zero"--"The Canyons" feels redundant and oddly unsexy. Neither erotic nor a thriller, the film could have been much better in the hands of someone like Brian de Palma, who usually excels at this type of campy, melodramatic trash (except for his unfortunate remake of Alain Corneau's "Love Crime"). To be sure, "The Canyons" would have been a better film, had Schrader and Ellis infused it with even the slightest grain of humor, but they spin their dark take with a deadly earnestness that robs the film of any trace of suspense or pleasure. In the past, Ellis has evinced a snarky, gleefully twisted sense of malice that enlivened even the sketchiest projects but in "The Canyons", it's hard to believe that he actually wrote anything other than a very basic outline of the plot. Certainly, the dialogue is such that the actors often seem to be winging it, ad libbing and spouting scripted bits on the fly. (The atrocious dialogue and barely-there script notwithstanding, Ellis probably still would have made a better director for this material than Schrader).

The acting is not as terrible as I expected it to be. Although there were, reportedly, problems during filming with the notoriously difficult Lohan, I thought she gave a convincing performance as Tara, a failed actress and paramour of trust fund baby/producer wannabe Christian (James Deen). As La Lohan's life has been endless fodder for scandal and gossip lo these many years, it's somewhat disconcerting to watch her playing what seems to be a version of herself. Her fear and desperation seem real, and it's difficult, in this case, to separate the actress from the role she's playing. James Deen, on the other hand, projects the perfect amount of jaded callowness as a spoiled, murderous brat. At first glance, his performance seemed wooden and withdrawn, but the more I watched him, the more I realized that's exactly how some of these guys act in real life: completely self-absorbed and indifferent to anyone else (until the threat of being abandoned pops up). However, there's no real onscreen chemistry between Deen and Lohan, and that's a problem. Christian is supposed to have this overpowering passion for Tara, and even though his "passion" is all about control, it's all talk, all part of the script that doesn't work. Since the role of Christian is obviously stunt casting, real-life porn star, Deen, doffs his duds for some full frontal nudity (so the audience doesn't feel cheated) and Lohan doesn't skimp on flaunting bare breasts (nor does the rest of the cast) but, as I said before, "The Canyons" just isn't sexy. In supporting roles, Nolan Funk, Amanda Brooks and Tenille Houston seem like they wandered over from "Melrose Place"--take that however you want, but I don't mean it as high praise. Director Gus Van Sant, who should have known better, is on hand for all of two minutes as Christian's psychiatrist, but that's not enough to elevate this movie into high, or low, art.

It's also worth noting that John DeFazio's photography does not help the movie. How is it possible to make the hills around Malibu look so dingy? I realize that the budget was very low, but really? Were they going for this low-rent look? Old episodes of "Hart-to-Hart" look better than this movie.

There's a murder in the movie, which could have been interesting, but isn't, and there's a lot of talking on cell phones and texting, all of which echo real life, and all of which bog down the movie in the boring minutiae of real life. "The Canyons" isn't really interesting enough to be a terrible movie, it's just a blah movie, a bad idea that could have made a terrific terrible movie with the right writer and director.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Writing and Performances Do Not Shine Aug. 26 2013
By Reid Crandall - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Interesting ideas, but the writing and acting were sub-standard. Difficult to say whether it was the acting weighing down the writing, or the gravitation field created by the combination of the two that caused the movie to implode.

The makers deserve credit for making this happen outside the studio system with Kickstarter funding, but the quality of the effort has somehow under performed even its $250,000 budget.

The idea of a "post-theatrical" movie is intriguing, but this production made the idea feel like the makers view the future of film closer to pornography than art, and perhaps considering those involved, that was the statement they were attempting to make.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Down and Out in Hollywood Hills March 28 2014
By Scott T. Rivers - Published on Amazon.com
Why did Paul Schrader bother? "The Canyons" (2013) has the look and feel of generic softcore on a Friday night. There's no attempt at filmmaking - just a display of waxworks. Career low points for all concerned.
25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously twisted, yet deadly serious...a sweet treat! Aug. 12 2013
By cinephile - Published on Amazon.com
Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" plays out as a cautionary tale of producers & actors ambitions gone awry. Porn star James Deen is Christian, an obsessed film executive producer. Performed with much dedication and delight, he is definitely a talent to watch as his presence lights up the screen with a dual vitality of charm amongst the midst of darkness in this sordid story of manipulation, vengeance and greed. When Tara, Lindsay Lohan, crawls her way to a better life via wealthy Christian, she also finds a way to carry along her long time love interest Ryan, Nolan Funk, only to realize that in life and relationships alike, everything comes at a price.

Sex is used as the main tool to enact corrective enforcement from Christian as well as Tara. Using this same device, struggling actor Ryan realizes that he must go above and beyond the call of duty if he's to save his principal role in Christian's film. What is to be determined by the protagonists who engage in very sultry situations, is how far they are willing to go to pay for the price of personal and career fulfillment.

Everyone has an agenda in this movie. some with plans more evident than others, and when actions don't align the consequences can be severe. A much publicized foursome including LiLo & James Deen and another couple they invite into their bedroom smartly creates a table turning set up that will ultimately plunged the tug of war between the two protagonist Tara & Christian into a surreal, albeit conflicted ending. Actor James Deen beautifully carries the film with a dark charming eloquence as he smoothly enables his obsessive plans into action inconspicuously through anyone surrounding Tara who can be bought or swayed by any means necessary.

There are minor technical flaws with sound and focus which by no means are a deterrent to the story Schrader wants to tell. It only becomes a reminder of the limited resources used to bring this independent visions to fruition. Performances from the cast is somewhere between dead serious to campy. This interesting range, some may find it distracting from the story, others may welcome it as an additional oddity within the assaulting feeling of doom and gloom that permeates the picture.

The beginning of the film smartly defines the setting and much of the tone of the characters by showcasing once vibrant movie theatres now sadly abandoned defunct venues. This is an allegory that may very well parallel the unforgiving ways of Hollywood and how if left unchecked, unscrupulous cunningness with a bulldozing determination can decay beauty & innocence. That is the case with Tara & Ryan. In a business where the main commodity is the human trade of talent, "The Canyons" does succeed in demonstrating a microcosm of real personalities as they struggle to find their voice in a sometimes all consuming illusionary reality created by Hollywood and the ever revolving doors this dream machine creates.

review from Entertainment Film News
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