The Canyons  (2013)

Lindsay Lohan has gone through a very well-documented career arc. She started off an adorable child actress, she blossomed into a gorgeous 20something (she's around my age, so I can say that), then fell into a world of drugs and excess, losing her looks and seemingly her talent. "The Canyons" seemed to be an attempt to make a dark, serious movie, something to push her image away from the punchline it had become...but in the end, just turns into a sad joke.

"Canyons" writer Bret Easton Ellis wrote "American Psycho", one of my favorites, and "The Rules of Attraction", which I enjoy although most of my friends do not. Director Paul Schrader wrote "Taxi Driver", and did the screenplays for "Raging Bull" and "The Last Temptation of Christ". Even though I knew, deep down inside, that Lindsay Lohan and James Deen would be terrible, I felt that attaching the names of Ellis and Schrader could at least bring some respectability, but even they couldn't help this.

The story is like other Ellis stories, a tale of sex and drugs and violence and greed and betrayal. Christian (Deen) and Tara (Lohan) are living in Los Angeles, with Christian financing some low-budget movies. He grooms Ryan (Nolan Funk) to star in his latest project. Things get sexually awkward quickly, with various degrees of kink being explored. Past relationships are brought to the surface, jealousy boils over, revenge plots are hatched, and I just stopped caring completely. None of these characters are likable, none are relatable, and I only kept watching for the sake of this review.

James Deen has had allegations of rape thrown at him recently, and even though this movie came out way before that, I absolutely believe the stories, based on nothing more than instinctively looking at a guy and thinking "he treats women like garbage." He approaches this role as though playing a manipulative, abusive, deviant, sex-addict will give him a sort of mainstream acceptance that won't come through his adult work. Lindsay Lohan, in theory, has more acting chops than a porn star. In theory. In practice, I kept wondering who she was talking to, because she was clearly just reading her lines in the direction of someone off-camera, as though this was the first time she was given them and she wanted to run it past someone for practice.

I talked a lot about "bad movies" recently when I watched The Room. That movie is famous for being bad, but in a fun/agonizing way. Something like "Flash Gordon" is fun because it doesn't take itself serious, it embraces the camp and the goofiness. "The Canyons" doesn't wink, it doesn't smirk, it doesn't take itself anything but dead serious, and it's miserable.

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "The Canyons" gets a 1 out of 10.




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