Saturday, August 3, 2013
THE CANYONS (2013)
Directed By: Paul Schrader
Written By: Bret Easton Ellis
Cinematography By: John DeFazio
Editor: Tim Silano
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Funk, Amanda Brooks, Tenille Houston, Gus Van Sant
When Christian, an LA trust-fund kid with casual ties to Hollywood, learns of a secret affair between Tara and the lead of his film project, Ryan, he spirals out of control, and his cruel mind games escalate into an act of bloody violence.
The film was Funded in large part by a campaign on Kickstarter.com. Was submitted to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival but was rejected by both.
The film feels like a bunch of scenes cut from erotic series from cable channels or other erotic movies. Some would argue with the casting of adult film superstar James deen in the lead the film is like a porn film that is heavy on the plot and acting more the. The sex. Though the sex isn't that extreme and the story isn't that exciting.
The films biggest crime is that it is dull. It tries to be sensationalistic, but comes across as too late as t seems to have a message about an anonymous hook up culture that values sex and looks above all. That message gets lost in a plot that plays more like a soap opera with it's melodrama about nothing really. Like a first draft of a budding playwright who wants to be. Controversial. The film feels out of date already. It has the makings of a film, But not the material. Like an experiment gone wrong. That might be more popular for it's behind the scenes problems within the production more than anything else
It's shocking that this film is directed by Paul Schrader as he is a director who usually pushes the envelope, but capture true characters and emotions. Here it feels like a stab at the old days or that the desires needed for the film are past his prime skills. What he might consider shocking is tame to a modern audience. The film feels more like play acting then a film production. While there are few close-ups. It's filmed like an episode of the realty series THE HILLS Or LAGUNA BEACH. The title matches then too.
While the Characters are all usually vile and revolve around the film Industry we see shots of old dilapidated movie heaters that makes a strong first impression if only the film explored he industry more. The analogy could be more clear. What it felt like it was saying is hat hear great and mighty film palaces that were beautiful to look at and filled many with joy. Had many people marvel at it, but in the end are now aged, used up, empty and forgotten only good for memories as they stopped working and being about anything a long time ago. Now are seen as fossils as they are out of sight out of mind. An apology about the movie industry and the characters in this film.
The film feels like an homage to the erotic films of yesteryear where as it has no real story or characters to back it up and it could have been more exploitive with it's material that has a shocking reserve for it's controversial leanings. Anytime it tries to push the envelope. While trying to be non-chalant though it reel of effort.
Soon the film which should feel tawdry, dirty and ad a bit expansive, instead feels small, scrubbed and repetitive. At the table read, Lohan had a script, where in large writing it had Nolan Gerard Funk's name crossed out with the word "NO!" next to it and other casting suggestions. But by the end of the table read she had changed her mind and at the next rehearsal was thrilled to be working with him.
I was really rooting for this film as it seemed like the perfect project for Lindsay Lohan's comeback. I love the writing of screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis and usually a fan of Paul Schrader's work. His should have been a dream project made in heaven. It comes off as disappointing. I can only sit here and wonder if the creative team behind Ellis's other screenplay THE INFORMERS had this material and the creative team behind this film had that film. Would both had been for the better or worse as that film at least had the shocks ad controversy it just didn't know how to use it properly and correctly. This film feels like it needs direction of where to go and actual controversy.
Here the film feels like an imitation, but I'm not sure of what exactly.
Gus van Sant has a cameo. The reason either john waters was busy or it makes sense to have him here as the godfather of experimental independent cinema that runs on the controversial side.
This reminds me of the films I would rent or watch on cable late at night. When i was young that you would put up with it's ridiculous plot and dialogue just to get to the nude not sex scenes. Which was the payoff for the viewing (films like Dark Tide with Brigitte Bako which were advertised as Eric thrillers not action oriented ones so it wasn't just a lark. It was material that was promised in the advertising and really the only reason those films were made as they know they had a built in market) the film plays that way but even the sex scenes that seem to be erotic in the what you have been waiting for are somewhat tame and Uninteresting just going along with the mood set by the rest of the film laid back.
If only he stakes had been raised for the characters his could have at least been a guilty pleasure once they finally add a murder mystery to the film it comes too late. All that came earlier was the build up to understanding the crime yet again it lacks sense and reason enough only to expose a character as a sociopath that we knew all along
There are stretched out scenes and elaborate camera angles and shots for no real reason as they lead nowhere and makes it seem like the director just thought it would be cool and fun, Much ado about nothing really. It could have worked as a throwback or homage. Here it feels like an idea that maybe better as a lyrical work. As at least then we get inner monologues, motives and a clear understanding of the details that the film can easily drop or miss.
I wonder if the sex and eroticism in the film is bland on purpose to be a message that these characters use and abuse each other and sex so often it becomes mundane. Which is why they either seek new partners or perversions to really get stimulate and excited, though if that was the case it could have shown the difference between mundane experiences and the ecstasy of he exciting ones. Anytime the films characters have real romantic emotions for one another he sex is off-screen making it personal and more intimate for the characters and all the audience is left behind with more showcases for the masses to watch. That is more a facade for all involved. It's giving what the audience thinks it wants and leaving out the things we should. So that it becomes anonymous like it's characters.
I will admit to Hoping Lindsay Lohan makes a big screen comeback as through it all. I believe her to be talented as an actress, unfortunately she rarely of ever gets he to role to prove it. Where as she used to have the problem of looking too young for the roles she plays. She looks older now for even the roles she is age appropriate for. Which works in her favor in this film as a character who seems like she is using people, but we in the audience realize is getting used up herself. She has he looks, the voice Definitely and gets the part of the femme fatale, but doesn't quite achieve it. I blame the material more hen anything else, though She also looks so heavily made over in scenes it hides what's left of her beauty. The whole build up to her nude scenes aren't exactly worth it either.
As described in an in-depth, behind-the-scenes New York Times article about the film's production, Paul Schrader directed a sex scene naked in an effort to placate Lindsay Lohan,
Leslie Coutterand was on call throughout the entire filming to replace Lindsay Lohan at a moment's notice due to Lohan's repeated absences, tardiness, and feuds with director Paul Schrader and co-star James Deen. Coutterrand was essentially paid to be Lohan's understudy in case Lohan was fired or left the set and never returned.
The ending also seems ambiguous and makes little sense. Half the time i can’t tell if some of the performances are bad or if the material is just that hard to play.