Film Reviews

THE CANYONS

By • Sep 13th, 2013 •

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It’s not the buzz about THE CANYONS that you hear, it’s the flies landing on the steaming pile of BluRay that will litter the streets on release day.

You talkin’ to me? Yes, I am Paul Schrader, writer of TAXI DRIVER, AMERICAN GIGOLO, RAGING BULL, and THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

From the opening scene of THE CANYONS at a table where four twenty-somethings are seated, thoughts of disbelief, concern, and bafflement sustain throughout, eventually leading to abject resentment for subjecting oneself as victim to the contempt that Schrader as director must have for cinema audiences.

The dinner scene presages the 90+ minutes. Who, if anyone, is helming the camera? Are the actors aware that the scene is being recorded? Is there a director present? From the absence of anyone with any acting ability to a capable individual with knowledge of basic photography’s rule of thirds, the answer must be no.

Loathe Lohan. Lindsay Lohan is dreadful. Every ounce of alcohol and other vice that has made her a TMZ darling is road mapped onto her face. As she is on screen, the only beneficiary is the casting director for Rob Zombie’s next feature that calls for a character described as a haggardly hag.

James Deen. Why is this guy in this movie? He brings nothing. The slime that he portrays onscreen in THE CANYONS is perhaps why Schrader sought a porn actor. One may theorize that by ushering onto the set an individual who may or may not encapsulate the basest form of ill morals that miscreants from such an industry fester, identifying with the movie character may easily breathe life into him and thus, the charade is accomplished. An actor of reasonable talent with the looks of a young John Travolta or Richard Gere would have made this role a savory character to springboard their career to the upper echelons of thespianism. Schrader may as well have used a cheap cardboard cutout of Richard Gere and a voice actor. The jury is out and the verdict ain’t good. A rule of thumb when making a film is choose talent over a male appendage.

This may be a joke or an ode to 70’s porn. Regardless of the intention, this scene gets a big laugh. After Lohan’s character is warned by Deen’s ex that he offered her limp body to a group of males as a community sporting event of vicious acts, she returns to the luxurious Malibu home and confronts him. It’s not important what transpires leading up to the bedroom where Lohan awaits a carousing couple in tow with Deen. The flick of a switch transforms modern Malibu chic into disco roller skating rink. This dazzling light display during the group entanglement on the mattress is so groovy. There should be something riveting other than Lohan’s character bent on role reversal and demand that her boyfriend bear the brunt of this latest sexcapade. But, there’s not.

As for paying homage to the 80’s, a miserable undertow of bad synthesizer must be tolerated throughout. Search any low budget bargain basement horror film from the Reagan era and hear the ominous tone of Stygian foreboding; the low guttural electronic growl of impending doom emanating from a Casio. These sounds grew to greater levels when images of decaying graveyards of real estate burdened with dead Cineplexes served as chapters in this film that supposedly depicts the sands of the hour-glass that ran out for an era of glorious filmmaking.

Bret Easton Ellis is credited with writing THE CANYONS. Here is the storyline: The spoiled trust fund pervert uses money to attract women with no self-worth that use the gold digging excuse as a way of accepting their companionship to this libertine. The jealous mistrusting misogynist gets all DEXTER-like because he is a psycho! After all, Ellis wrote AMERICAN PSYCHO. So, this is the shocking turn of events. Yawn.

The marriage of Schrader and Ellis should have produced a Helter Skelter menace. The dirty gritty coarse punching knockout dreg melded with the psychotically deranged spawned super freak lovechild delivered into their world of absolute mayhem. What they delivered is an aborted body of mangled nothingness.

Funded on Kickstarter for $250,000, there are numerous posts about the tribulations of this film being made on a shoestring. Limited funds limit technical abilities. Poorly written work is no excuse. No direction and talentless acting screams, return the money!

There are those that swear that THE CANYONS is the greatest film since BEN HUR. The hoity toity will argue that the hoi polloi will not understand and are not expected to. Don’t buy into the deceit. This film is neither experimental nor avant-garde. There is nothing to read into. There is no merit on any level. THE CANYONS is an insult to anyone that endures it.

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