The Canyons

Another day in paradise.  James Deen and Lindsay Lohan in "The Canyons."

Another day in paradise. James Deen and Lindsay Lohan in “The Canyons.”

Writer / director Paul Schrader owes me a movie.  The piece of dreck called “The Canyons” that he unveiled on June 29 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center does not count.

As I made my way to my seat inside the Film Society’s beautiful Walter Reade Theatre, a waiter approached me with a tray containing cups of beer.  I turned him down.  Had I known what I was soon to be in for, I most likely would have taken the entire tray.  I do not know if alcohol would have helped, but, in the case of “The Canyons,” it could not have hurt. 

So, where to begin my autopsy of this film that was dead on arrival?  “The Canyons” is a story of rich, pretentious, annoying, vacuous 20-something Christian.  Christian is played by James Deen (yes, that is really his, made up, name).  Deen is an actual porn star whose real name is Bryan Sevilla.  Deen’s filmography includes such sensitive work as “Art School Sluts” (2004).

Christian is a producer of low budget horror movies.  The story revolves around the power games he plays with Tara, his boozy, once pretty but now out of shape girlfriend, played by Lindsay Lohan, and some of the film’s other characters.

Schrader did a post screening interview during which he remarked that Lohan is now past the “ingénue” stage.  No kidding. Schrader explained that Lohan, is now old enough, and “partied out” enough, to play a boozy broad with a raspy voice.  Such an accomplishment!  Ms. Lohan has some ill advised nude scenes which, instead of inspiring calls of “take it off, take it off” provoked a response more along the lines of “put it on, put it on!” Hey, don’t give me grief for taking the naked Ms. Lohan to task.  It was her choice to remove her clothes on camera.  I’m just a critic.

Another character is Ryan (Nolan Funk) a small time actor who is the boyfriend of Christian’s assistant, Gina (Amanda Brooks).  Gina is trying to get Ryan the lead in Christian’s new movie, paid for by his trust fund.  She is the only decent person in this story filled with unlikable characters with whom I would not want to spend three minutes, let alone the running time of this film.

“The Canyons” begins with shots of closed, dilapidated suburban movie theatres.  These shots were very interesting.   In fact these opening shots were infinitely more intriguing than anything that occurred among the characters in the film.  I would have much preferred a movie about these old, abandoned theatres than the emotionally abandoned souls of the film’s waste of life characters.

Schrader (looking old and heavy, with a gray mustache, kind of like a poor man’s Wilford Brimley) explained that the reason for the closed movie theatres was that “The Canyons” has to do with cinema for the “post theatrical era.”  He explained that the characters in “The Canyons” got in line to see  a movie, but the movie theatre closed, and these characters stayed in line.  Huh? If any of my readers can make sense out of this statement please email me.

Schrader also talked about raising money, partially on the website kickstarter in order to produce “The Canyons.” As a result, Schrader explained, he  was able to produce “The Canyons” independently, without a studio looking over his shoulder.  Schrader said he was able to make it up as he went along.  The results speak for themselves.  While I am all for independent  film production, a film like “The Canyons” made me realize the value of studio control.

“The Canyons” opens on August 2, 2013.

The Canyons, Director Paul Schrader, 2013,

IFC Films

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 30, 2013, in New, What were they thinking? and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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