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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously twisted, yet deadly serious...a sweet treat!
Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" plays out as a cautionary tale of producers & actors ambitions gone awry. Porn star James Deen is Christian, an obsessed film executive producer. Performed with much dedication and delight, he is definitely a talent to watch as his presence lights up the screen with a dual vitality of charm amongst the midst of darkness in this sordid story...
Published 12 months ago by cinephile

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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much, delivers very little
The movie pretends to portray the life of an aspiring model in LA that finds that is not always easy to make it in Hollywood. It starts OK, tries to develop a story with a somewhat complex love triangle. From there though, it goes down really quick, never gets to a point that makes sense, the characters individual stories are never fully explained and the few images that...
Published 11 months ago by ceindaco


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much, delivers very little, August 26, 2013
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This review is from: The Canyons (Amazon Instant Video)
The movie pretends to portray the life of an aspiring model in LA that finds that is not always easy to make it in Hollywood. It starts OK, tries to develop a story with a somewhat complex love triangle. From there though, it goes down really quick, never gets to a point that makes sense, the characters individual stories are never fully explained and the few images that could attract some of the viewers leave you with more questions than answers. I would not call it soft porn since it does not make it that far, even though some scenes are close, but an attempt to tease the viewers that gets lost in the camera movement and angles. Of course the acting is second class, even Lindsay that is the more experienced actress in the movie (and that is saying something) more often than not looks like she is trying too hard. Some of the dialogues are vague and empty and leave you wondering why in the world that scene was even there. Overall, I would not recommend it but if you like independent noir type films; then you can probably find some parts that you like in this movie.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The (Not-So-Grand) Canyons, December 12, 2013
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With Paul Schrader directing, Brett Easton Ellis penning the screenplay, Lindsay Lohan starring and porn stud James Deen as the leading man, the erotic thriller "The Canyons" seemed like a dicey proposition from the outset. With the exception of Deen, the careers of the others have certainly seen better days; "The Canyons" is unlikely to herald a reversal of fortune for anyone involved. Like a dessicated amalgam of its creators greatest hits--think Schrader's "American Gigolo"/"The Comfort of Strangers"/"Auto Focus" meets Ellis' "American Psycho"/"Rules of Attraction"/"Less Than Zero"--"The Canyons" feels redundant and oddly unsexy. Neither erotic nor a thriller, the film could have been much better in the hands of someone like Brian de Palma, who usually excels at this type of campy, melodramatic trash (except for his unfortunate remake of Alain Corneau's "Love Crime"). To be sure, "The Canyons" would have been a better film, had Schrader and Ellis infused it with even the slightest grain of humor, but they spin their dark take with a deadly earnestness that robs the film of any trace of suspense or pleasure. In the past, Ellis has evinced a snarky, gleefully twisted sense of malice that enlivened even the sketchiest projects but in "The Canyons", it's hard to believe that he actually wrote anything other than a very basic outline of the plot. Certainly, the dialogue is such that the actors often seem to be winging it, ad libbing and spouting scripted bits on the fly. (The atrocious dialogue and barely-there script notwithstanding, Ellis probably still would have made a better director for this material than Schrader).

The acting is not as terrible as I expected it to be. Although there were, reportedly, problems during filming with the notoriously difficult Lohan, I thought she gave a convincing performance as Tara, a failed actress and paramour of trust fund baby/producer wannabe Christian (James Deen). As La Lohan's life has been endless fodder for scandal and gossip lo these many years, it's somewhat disconcerting to watch her playing what seems to be a version of herself. Her fear and desperation seem real, and it's difficult, in this case, to separate the actress from the role she's playing. James Deen, on the other hand, projects the perfect amount of jaded callowness as a spoiled, murderous brat. At first glance, his performance seemed wooden and withdrawn, but the more I watched him, the more I realized that's exactly how some of these guys act in real life: completely self-absorbed and indifferent to anyone else (until the threat of being abandoned pops up). However, there's no real onscreen chemistry between Deen and Lohan, and that's a problem. Christian is supposed to have this overpowering passion for Tara, and even though his "passion" is all about control, it's all talk, all part of the script that doesn't work. Since the role of Christian is obviously stunt casting, real-life porn star, Deen, doffs his duds for some full frontal nudity (so the audience doesn't feel cheated) and Lohan doesn't skimp on flaunting bare breasts (nor does the rest of the cast) but, as I said before, "The Canyons" just isn't sexy. In supporting roles, Nolan Funk, Amanda Brooks and Tenille Houston seem like they wandered over from "Melrose Place"--take that however you want, but I don't mean it as high praise. Director Gus Van Sant, who should have known better, is on hand for all of two minutes as Christian's psychiatrist, but that's not enough to elevate this movie into high, or low, art.

It's also worth noting that John DeFazio's photography does not help the movie. How is it possible to make the hills around Malibu look so dingy? I realize that the budget was very low, but really? Were they going for this low-rent look? Old episodes of "Hart-to-Hart" look better than this movie.

There's a murder in the movie, which could have been interesting, but isn't, and there's a lot of talking on cell phones and texting, all of which echo real life, and all of which bog down the movie in the boring minutiae of real life. "The Canyons" isn't really interesting enough to be a terrible movie, it's just a blah movie, a bad idea that could have made a terrific terrible movie with the right writer and director.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Writing and Performances Do Not Shine, August 26, 2013
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Interesting ideas, but the writing and acting were sub-standard. Difficult to say whether it was the acting weighing down the writing, or the gravitation field created by the combination of the two that caused the movie to implode.

The makers deserve credit for making this happen outside the studio system with Kickstarter funding, but the quality of the effort has somehow under performed even its $250,000 budget.

The idea of a "post-theatrical" movie is intriguing, but this production made the idea feel like the makers view the future of film closer to pornography than art, and perhaps considering those involved, that was the statement they were attempting to make.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Down and Out in Hollywood Hills, March 28, 2014
This review is from: The Canyons (Theatrical Cut) (DVD)
Why did Paul Schrader bother? "The Canyons" (2013) has the look and feel of generic softcore on a Friday night. There's no attempt at filmmaking - just a display of waxworks. Career low points for all concerned.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously twisted, yet deadly serious...a sweet treat!, August 12, 2013
This review is from: The Canyons (Amazon Instant Video)
Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" plays out as a cautionary tale of producers & actors ambitions gone awry. Porn star James Deen is Christian, an obsessed film executive producer. Performed with much dedication and delight, he is definitely a talent to watch as his presence lights up the screen with a dual vitality of charm amongst the midst of darkness in this sordid story of manipulation, vengeance and greed. When Tara, Lindsay Lohan, crawls her way to a better life via wealthy Christian, she also finds a way to carry along her long time love interest Ryan, Nolan Funk, only to realize that in life and relationships alike, everything comes at a price.

Sex is used as the main tool to enact corrective enforcement from Christian as well as Tara. Using this same device, struggling actor Ryan realizes that he must go above and beyond the call of duty if he's to save his principal role in Christian's film. What is to be determined by the protagonists who engage in very sultry situations, is how far they are willing to go to pay for the price of personal and career fulfillment.

Everyone has an agenda in this movie. some with plans more evident than others, and when actions don't align the consequences can be severe. A much publicized foursome including LiLo & James Deen and another couple they invite into their bedroom smartly creates a table turning set up that will ultimately plunged the tug of war between the two protagonist Tara & Christian into a surreal, albeit conflicted ending. Actor James Deen beautifully carries the film with a dark charming eloquence as he smoothly enables his obsessive plans into action inconspicuously through anyone surrounding Tara who can be bought or swayed by any means necessary.

There are minor technical flaws with sound and focus which by no means are a deterrent to the story Schrader wants to tell. It only becomes a reminder of the limited resources used to bring this independent visions to fruition. Performances from the cast is somewhere between dead serious to campy. This interesting range, some may find it distracting from the story, others may welcome it as an additional oddity within the assaulting feeling of doom and gloom that permeates the picture.

The beginning of the film smartly defines the setting and much of the tone of the characters by showcasing once vibrant movie theatres now sadly abandoned defunct venues. This is an allegory that may very well parallel the unforgiving ways of Hollywood and how if left unchecked, unscrupulous cunningness with a bulldozing determination can decay beauty & innocence. That is the case with Tara & Ryan. In a business where the main commodity is the human trade of talent, "The Canyons" does succeed in demonstrating a microcosm of real personalities as they struggle to find their voice in a sometimes all consuming illusionary reality created by Hollywood and the ever revolving doors this dream machine creates.

review from Entertainment Film News
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A realistic American Psycho, March 4, 2014
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This review is from: The Canyons (Amazon Instant Video)
After the terrible reviews, I was surprised how wonderful this film is. I suspect it has something to do with haters of Lindsay Lohan. She was very good and believable as a young, beautiful woman willing to sell her body ( and thus her spirit) to a man who will 'provide' for her--allow her to live in wealth. She considers working an ordinary, low paying job as hell. The wealthy young man she is living with, Christian, is a sociopath. A hollow man if there ever was one. It's a believable story of the depths people will go to make it in Hollywood, even if 'making it' is a low level producer or actor. The director, Paul Schrader, knows this LA landscape and terrain well, drawing a richly layered yet claustrophobic world. The despicable Christian, the wealthy, gorgeous sociopath, is a realistic Patrick Bateman (Main character of American Psycho). If you liked that film, you should appreciate this one. And Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote the novel American Psycho was the screenwriter for The Canyons.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, November 5, 2013
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This review is from: The Canyons (Amazon Instant Video)
'The Canyons' is one of those films you hear about, that is so bad that you have to see for yourself. Plus, it was supposed to be the comeback of Lindsay Lohan. What I kept thinking when I saw Lindsay Lohan was the amount of bruises on her legs that were apparently not covered by make-up. It was sloppy, and that is exactly what the film is, sloppy.

What we see is the underbelly of Hollywood. The scummy, seamy side. A young, would be starlet, Lindsay Lohan, being kept by a millionaire porn star. Sex with differing couples, or with men whom the porn star has promised a night with Lohan. The plot is thick with wanna be's and with actors working as waiters and bar tenders, selling and playing with sex and drugs on the side. Everyone seems to be a little 'off' is it the drugs or are they all mentally ill? No matter, thus is not a good film. I am not sure if it ever made it to the big screen. Lots of hoopla, where nothing delivers.

Not Recommended For Me. prisrob 11-05-13
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A canyon of emptiness, August 28, 2013
There are bad movies that make you angry. There are bad movies that make you laugh. And then... there are bad movies that make you feel a little depressed and icky, but mostly just bored.

"The Canyons" is the last kind -- a hollow low-budget melodrama that begins and ends with empty pretension. It has roughly the same kind of story (shallow rich people, sex, murder) that Bret Easton Ellis has been writing for the past several decades, centering on a rapidly deteriorating Lindsay Lohan and her smoker's croak.

Rich brat/movie producer Christian (James Deen) is in a relationship with Tara (Lohan), an aging party-girl who desperately wants the financial security he gives her. Every night, Christian brings in other people (both male and female) to have sex with Tara while he watches, and sometimes they participate in group sex.

Tara convinces Christian to cast struggling actor/bartender Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk) in his latest schlock movie -- without mentioning that Ryan is her ex-boyfriend, and that she's having a secret affair with him. But Christian suspects what Tara and Ryan are up to -- and he sets out to destroy his rival in any way possible. Even murder.

Even before it was made, "The Canyons" was overshadowed by the forces behind it -- it was written by Ellis, directed by Richard Schrade, and starred the perennial train-wreck Lindsay Lohan in her "comeback." What was more, the movie was funded by Kickstarter and distributed on VOD. This movie could have been on the vanguard of the new wave of entertainment production...

... but to do that, it would have to be good. And it's not. Instead it feels like Ellis is running on empty, so he's regurgitating pallid knockoffs of the shocking, controversial kind of stories that he's written about in his books. It's like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox, and it just leaves me wondering why he was so desperate to make this movie.

Bless Richard Schrader, he's trying to do SOMETHING with this mess, but doesn't seem to know what. The plot aimlessly wanders around, following Tara and Christian in their little cat-and-mouse game, having awkwardly unsexy sex and boring us into a stupor with the stilted, hackneyed dialogue. As the final indignity, they try to throw "twists" into it, but they are either nonsensical or predictable.

So it's a bad movie. But it's not the hilariously awful, awkward train-wreck that people wanted. It's too good to be hilarious like "The Room," but too bad to be watchable.

It's also kind of sad that the best performance (no double-entendre intended) comes from a porn actor. Actually, James Deen is really, really good as Christian -- a cold, dead-eyed sociopath who has wells of white-hot fury inside him. He loves no one, and sees everyone who isn't easily controllable (like Tara) as an obstacle.

Sadly, Deen is the best actor here. Funk is painfully out of his depth here. And Lohan is effectively playing herself, though not very well -- an aging, damaged party girl who lives off the largesse of rich men because she couldn't cut it as an actress. You can practically see her crumbling away in front of your eyes, with her ravaged face and croaking voice. It adds a poignancy to her performance that her affected acting sadly can't supply.

"The Canyons" is a movie that feels like a halfhearted effort from everyone involved, except the scarily empty-eyed Deen. It's not bad enough to be entertaining, and too bad to be enjoyable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Film, December 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Canyons (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I enjoyed this one. The final trailer for this film is amazing! This movie delivers everything from that trailer and some. This film is not for everyone. The acting in The Canyons is not the best. But Lindsay Lohan and James Deen did good! Deen's acting wasn't great, but it kept the movie interesting. The Canyons is not a masterpiece. However, I really enjoyed the locations, soundtrack, and cinematography. The plot kept me interested from the start to the end. I thought The Canyons was good and recommend it. If you like The Canyons, you might also enjoy the film The Casino Job as well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars do not stream, August 21, 2013
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The movie is not bad. Its simple and is a good Sunday after movie. Do not stream it.... amazon has a long way to go in providing quality streaming, in the ability to fast forward and rewind, and in price.
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The Canyons (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]
The Canyons (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] by Paul Schrader (Blu-ray - 2013)
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