Monday 28 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · The Canyons

The Canyons

True to its title, the film is a void.

Rod Lott July 30th, 2013

Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.


Available on VOD beginning Friday, the IFC Films release casts a voyeuristic eye on Los Angeles couple Tara (tabloid fixture Lindsay Lohan, Liz & Dick) and Christian (porn star James Deen, Anal Buffet 8). They’ve been together for one year, but their bedroom — and other areas of their pleasure pad — often plays host to guest stars. By that, I mean that they’re into threesomes and foursomes, or Tara having sex with a stranger while Christian watches and commemorates the event on his phone.

Outside the home, Christian is working on getting a movie off the ground. The young man he’s recruited to star in the project, Ryan (Nolan Funk, House at the End of the Street), is secretly meeting — and screwing — Tara. And when the idea of intercourse is neither the idea of nor involves Christian ... well, that’s cheating. Even coked-up, control-freak, pretty-boy, trust-fund babies have moral standards, it seems.

“I never thought this movie would get made,” Christian says at one point, and I’m sure director Paul Schrader shares the sentiment. After months of schizophrenic Kickstarter trailers, the low-budget effort arrives amid more curiosity than hype, yet resembles an episode of Showtime’s Red Shoe Diaries: less gauzy-lensed, perhaps, but retaining every bit of soul-crushing dullness.

The script by Bret Easton Ellis (author of such Zeitgeist novels as American Psycho and Less Than Zero) isn’t up to the low bar of Red Shoe Diaries — or, for that matter, any erotic thriller that became a Skinemax staple. One could argue The Canyons crosses the line into pornography, what with one of Tara and Christian’s conquests seen stroking himself in an expensive chair that one prays has been Scotchguarded.

To address the freckled elephant in the room, yes, Lohan herself appears nude. No longer the child star of Disney matinees, she attempts to revive interest in her heavily damaged, once-promising career by going topless in numerous scenes.

If only she were seen and not heard. Whatever charm and presence she once exhibited long has dissipated; although she’s now 27 years old, she brings so little believability to her adult role that it’s like watching a girl play dress-up. Her co-star, Deen, is as vacuous, but perhaps that’s just Ellis’ screenplay — a chore to see played out, because it’s an utter bore. Its last-ditch twist is more silly than spine-tingling.

What on Earth attracted Schrader to this project? After all, this is the man who wrote Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ for Martin Scorsese. While Schrader's own directorial résumé admittedly is spotty (Auto Focus is a highlight, whereas his Exorcist prequel, Dominion, famously was shelved), he deserves to work with better material than this. At least he makes Tara and Christian’s house look Architectural Digest-ready; I was more interested in soaking in its ambience than anything else The Canyons had to offer: precious little. —Rod Lott

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