Canyons [Blu-ray] [Import]
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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.
"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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
Back to Lindsay. This is the first time I'd seen her in anything. I don't even know who she is or why people make such a big deal about her (addiction problems? what is special about that?) Verdict after watching: I still don't care, other than some strong feelings about having her makeup artist fired. However, I surely appreciate Ms. Lohan for NOT having fake boobs, as implants are one of mankind's worst inventions, right up there with mustard gas. In fact, I am giving The Canyons 2 stars instead of 1 due to Lindsay's real boobs coming out not once, but thrice. While I sincerely hope someone other than Ms. Lohan becomes our first female President, if Lindsay does get elected, the Unrated release of The Canyons that I own could skyrocket in value (can you imagine how many people would want to see the mammary glands of the most powerful woman in the world!?!?) Although... if Trump gets elected next year, there may be no United States in 2020...