UK Release: May 9th 2014
Paul Schrader’s ‘THE CANYONS’ is a tale of young twenty-something’s in modern LA and getting mixed up in the world of sex and the movie industry. Acting as the first feature film to be successfully funded with use of Kickstarter, the film seems to take pot shots at the studios in Hollywood with its metaphorical opening shots of demolished cinemas, and how this model can see films like this being released digitally, meaning that the trip to the cinema is out of the way.
Going into this film I was hoping for something to surprise me. You do have the somewhat infamous casting of Lindsey Lohan (also producer here) and James Deen (yes the all important ‘E’ and no not that one – but a actor from adult porn) in the leads. The films was wrote by Bret Easton Ellis of ‘American Psycho’ fame, who knows how to write self destructive stories about professional young twenty-something’s which no doubt got the attention of that of Paul Schrader. There is also a cameo from Gus Van Sant as well. The thing with ‘The Canyons’ is this is a very self indulgent film which tries to have pot shots at the movie industry, but instead comes across very clumsily instead. A lot of the potshots taken here will make sense if you know about it being funded by Kickstarter, if you don’t do this further reading when coming into to watch this film, then good luck. You are going to be left with just a howling bad soap-opera-meets-soft-porn mash-up. Lohan looks very bewildered most of the time, even if you can tell in some scenes she doesn’t want to act, and then in other shows glimpses that she has the ability to be a perfectly decent actress then some stunt casted celebrity she is now. Porn star James Deen looks like he is from some panto, and brings more emotion in his sex scenes (and holds a lot of phone camera to shoot films with, again a potshot at Hollywood).
Considering the talent, I really thought, considering this was from Paul Schraider, this could have been something interesting, I mean why cast these two people in the lead and have Easton Ellis write the film? Instead you get something which doesn’t really amount to anything other than staying we were able to make a film to release online without the money of a Hollywood studio, and that actors should be able to start careers the same way as well (you see it assumes actors/actress’ sleep around to get to work in that town). In away its something which, just like the casting made people laugh, so will the film itself, and this is quite an achievement considering there isn’t really any humour in it at all.